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2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois

52 Colleges
$28,141 Avg Cost*
4.3 Years Avg Time to Graduate*

Trying to decide what college is best for you is no easy matter. College Factual has developed its Best Value in Illinois Schools ranking as one tool you can use to help make this decision.

We analyzed 52 colleges and universities to determine which were the best for overall value in Illinois. This ranking isn't just a listing of 'cheap' schools. Instead, it is noting which schools offer a high quality education for a reasonable price. So it is possible that College A may rank better than College B, while College B is less expensive to attend.

See what other factors we include in our ranking methodology.

Our average cost calculation adds up all expenses, such as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses, and then subtracts the average financial aid awarded to a student. This gives a rough estimation of how much money you can expect to pay out-of-pocket or through loans each year.

Custom Rankings

We've developed a number of other tools and rankings to help you make your college decision. Start by filtering this list by location or field of study and then explore our other rankings that feature schools great for different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

We've created a tool called College Combat that lets you create your own customized comparisons based on the factors that matter the most to you. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges for the Money in Illinois

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Principia College

Elsah, Illinois

Our 2021 rankings named Principia College the best school for overall value in Illinois for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Principia is located in Elsah, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 119 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at Principia to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $17,395. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Principia be around $73,233. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 88%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Principia excels when it comes to quality. It’s ranked in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

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You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. The school came in at #2 in Illinois on this year’s best value ranking. This large public school is located in Champaign, Illinois, and it awarded 8,983 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at UIUC graduates in less than 4.2 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $25,337. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UIUC is $106,415. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. UIUC also made our Best Colleges in Illinois list, coming in at #3.

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#3

Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Eastern Illinois University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois list. Located in Charleston, Illinois, the medium-sized public school awarded 1,244 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.4 years for the average student at EIU to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $18,150. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the EIU is $80,223. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#4

University of Illinois at Springfield

Springfield, Illinois

A rank of #4 on our Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list means University of Illinois at Springfield is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. UIS is located in Springfield, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 680 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

At UIS, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $19,435. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from UIS is $85,320. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#5

Illinois College

Jacksonville, Illinois

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Illinois College helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools for the money in Illinois. Jacksonville, Illinois is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 256 students in 2018-2019.

The average student at Illinois College graduates in less than 4.1 years, and it costs about $20,712 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $84,298 to get a bachelor’s degree from Illinois College. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#6

Illinois State University

Normal, Illinois

Illinois State University ranked #6 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Normal, Illinois is the setting for this large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 4,822 students in 2018-2019.

At Illinois State, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $23,823. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State is $103,868. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%.

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University of Illinois at Chicago ranked #7 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. University of Illinois at Chicago is a large public school located in Chicago, Illinois that handed out 4,524 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at UIC graduates in less than 4.5 years, and it costs about $24,726 per year to attend the school. When we combine these numbers, we estimate that the cost to get a bachelor’s degree from UIC is $111,514. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The low student loan default rate of 3.1% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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Southern Illinois University Edwardsville did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #8. Located in Edwardsville, Illinois, the fairly large public school handed out 2,607 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.5 years for the average student at SIUE to complete their degree, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $20,336. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from SIUE is about $91,919. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

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#9

Knox College

Galesburg, Illinois

Knox College landed the #9 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking. Knox College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Galesburg, Illinois that handed out 367 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Knox is 4.1 years, and it costs about $28,574 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $117,439 to get a bachelor’s degree from Knox. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The low student loan default rate of 3.7% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, Knox also did well on our Best Colleges in Illinois list. It’s in the top 20% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#10

Augustana College

Rock Island, Illinois

With a ranking of #10, Augustana College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Augustana is located in Rock Island, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 855 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at Augustana about 4.1 years to graduate, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $29,752. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Augustana is $120,793. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 87%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. As a testament to the quality of education it offers, Augustana also is in the top 20% of our Best Colleges in Illinois ranking.

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#11

Western Illinois University

Macomb, Illinois

Western Illinois University landed the #11 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking. Located in Macomb, Illinois, the medium-sized public school handed out 1,785 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average student at WIU graduates in less than 4.4 years, and it costs about $19,252 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $85,479 to get a bachelor’s degree from WIU. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#12

Monmouth College

Monmouth, Illinois

With a ranking of #12, Monmouth College did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Monmouth College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Monmouth, Illinois that handed out 238 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The average amount of time it takes for a student to receive their degree at Monmouth is 4.2 years, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $22,828. This means that the average student pays around $96,106 to get a bachelor’s degree from Monmouth. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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#13

Blackburn College

Carlinville, Illinois

Blackburn College ranked #13 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Blackburn is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Carlinville, Illinois. It awarded 120 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Blackburn, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.4 years, and it costs about $16,002 per year to attend the school. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from Blackburn be around $70,409. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

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Southern Illinois University Carbondale ranked #14 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. SIUC is located in Carbondale, Illinois and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 3,120 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes the average student at SIUC about 4.5 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $21,114. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from SIUC is $94,168. When you graduate sooner, you can save a lot of money.

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#15

Bradley University

Peoria, Illinois

Bradley University did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #15. Peoria, Illinois is the setting for this medium-sized institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 1,048 students in 2018-2019.

The average student at Bradley graduates in less than 4.3 years, and it costs about $31,921 per year to attend the school. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Bradley is $135,983. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.7%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Bradley also claimed a spot on our Best Colleges in Illinois list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools in this category.

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#16

Northern Illinois University

Dekalb, Illinois

Northern Illinois University came in at #16 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois ranking. Located in Dekalb, Illinois, the fairly large public school handed out 3,441 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At NIU, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.6 years, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $22,638. This makes the estimated cost of a bachelor’s degree from NIU be around $103,456. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#17

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln, Illinois

Lincoln Christian University ranked #17 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Located in Lincoln, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 77 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Lincoln Christian College and Seminary about 4.5 years to graduate, and the average full-time cost to attend the school is around $21,652. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Lincoln Christian College and Seminary is $97,651. The sooner a student graduates, the more money they can save.

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#18

Lake Forest College

Lake Forest, Illinois

Lake Forest College ranked #18 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Located in Lake Forest, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 453 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Lake Forest about 4.2 years to graduate, and it costs about $32,355 per year to attend the school. This means that the average student pays around $134,273 to get a bachelor’s degree from Lake Forest. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The low student loan default rate of 1.8% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#19

Wheaton College Illinois

Wheaton, Illinois

Wheaton College Illinois ranked #19 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Located in Wheaton, Illinois, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 720 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

At Wheaton College Illinois, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and the yearly average cost to attend the school is $38,129. This means that the average student pays around $157,091 to get a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College Illinois. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The low student loan default rate of 0.9% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%. Wheaton College Illinois did well in our quality rankings, too. It placed #4 on our Best Colleges in Illinois list.

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#20

Illinois Wesleyan University

Bloomington, Illinois

Illinois Wesleyan University landed the #20 spot on the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking. Illinois Wesleyan University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Bloomington, Illinois that handed out 434 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

At Illinois Wesleyan, the average time it takes a student to graduate is 4.1 years, and it costs about $37,862 per year to attend the school. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan is about $153,720. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.5%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. On top of its placing in our value rankings, Illinois Wesleyan also did well on our Best Colleges in Illinois list. It’s in the top 10% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#21

Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, Illinois

With a ranking of #21, Illinois Institute of Technology did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Located in Chicago, Illinois, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school awarded 600 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

It takes the average student at Illinois Tech about 4.5 years to graduate, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $37,431. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Illinois Tech is $169,562. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 90%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, Illinois Tech is ranked #5 for overall quality in Illinois.

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#22

Dominican University

River Forest, Illinois

Dominican University ranked #22 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Dominican U is located in River Forest, Illinois and has a small student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 500 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at Dominican U graduates in less than 4.2 years, and it costs about $29,011 per year to attend the school. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the Dominican U is $123,297. If you can shave even one term off your degree, you can save a substantial amount of money.

The low student loan default rate of 4.9% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#23

North Central College

Naperville, Illinois

North Central College did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #23. Naperville, Illinois is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 872 students in 2018-2019.

It takes about 4.2 years for the average student at North Central to complete their degree, and it costs about $32,920 per year to attend the school. Looking at these numbers together, we estimate that the average cost of a bachelor’s degree from North Central is about $138,264. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

The low student loan default rate of 3.2% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1%.

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#24

Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University ranked #24 on this year’s Best Colleges for the Money in Illinois list. Northwestern U is located in Evanston, Illinois and has a large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 2,770 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

It takes about 4.1 years for the average student at Northwestern U to complete their degree, and the estimated yearly cost for the school is $55,450. Putting this cost and the average time to graduate together, we find that the average amount you’ll pay to get a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern U is $229,008. When students graduate in a lesser amount of time, they can save thousands of dollars.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.0%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1%. Northwestern U also took the #1 spot in our Best Colleges in Illinois rankings.

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#25

University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

University of Chicago did quite well in the 2021 Best Value Colleges in Illinois ranking, coming in at #25. UChicago is located in Chicago, Illinois and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 2,024 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The average student at UChicago graduates in less than 4.1 years, and on average, the annual cost to attend the school is $56,722. Thus, the average cost to get a bachelor’s degree from the UChicago is $230,859. Graduating sooner can prevent you from having to pay more money out of pocket.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 99%. In addition to its best value ranking, and one of the reasons why the school is on the list, UChicago is ranked #2 for overall quality in Illinois.

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Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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