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2021 Top Illinois Men's D1 (FBS) Football Schools

3 Colleges
$35,838 Avg Tuition & Fees*
59% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

With all of the options student athletes have for higher education today, it can be tough to choose which direction to take. Our mission at College Factual is to arm you with as much information as we can to help you make that decision. Our Best Colleges for Division I (FBS) Men's Football in Illinois ranking is one tool we have developed to help in this regard.

After analyzing 3 schools in Illinois, we came up with our list of those that offered the best educational experiences for D1 (FBS) Men's Football athletes in Illinois. Instead of depending on subjective information, we focus on objective factors to determine this ranking. These factors include such things as the athletic competitiveness of the school and the school's overall quality. This means that a school must provide students with a great education in addition to having a good sports team if it wants to rank well.

Learn more about our ranking methodology.

One Size Does Not Fit All

We know that one set of rankings doesn't always help you determine the best school for you, so we've created the ability to narrow your list by location as well as alternative rankings that prioritize different factors such as those of importance to online students or returning adults or those who value diversity and value for your money.

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. We encourage you to try it out and pit your favorite colleges and universities head to head! If you don't have time right now, you can bookmark it for later.

Top Colleges in Illinois for D1 (FBS) Men's Football athletes in Illinois

See which schools came out on top of our ranking:


Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University tops this year’s ranking as the best school for D1 (FBS) Men’s Football athletes in Illinois. Located in Evanston, Illinois, the large private not-for-profit school awarded 2,770 diplomas to qualified bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

Northwestern brought in $63,246,903 while tallying up $32,136,417 in expenses for its FBS Men’s Football team. That boils down to a yearly profit of $31,110,486 for the sports team. The team members aren’t slouches in the classroom either, since the team academic progress rate is an excellent 995.

With a freshman retention rate of 98%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. Northwestern also took the #1 spot in our overall quality rankings.

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You’ll join some of the best athletes around if you attend University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The school came in at #2 in this year’s ranking. UIUC is a public institution located in Champaign, Illinois. The school has a large population, and it awarded 8,983 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The team at UIUC took home $58,155,936 in revenue and paid out $23,418,953 in expenses in recent times. Happily, this means that the team turned a profit of $34,736,983. The academic progress rate of the team is 970.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 92%. UIUC also took the #3 spot in our overall quality rankings.

Full University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Report

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Northern Illinois University

Dekalb, Illinois

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Northern Illinois University. It ranked #3 on our 2021 Best Colleges for D1 (FBS) Men’s Football athletes in Illinois list. NIU is a fairly large public school situated in Dekalb, Illinois. It awarded 3,441 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The FBS Men’s Football team at NIU brought home $8,386,474 in revenue in a single year. The academic progress rate of the team is 962.

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Best Colleges for FBS Men's Football in the Great Lakes Region

View Best Colleges for FBS Men’s Football in the Great Lakes Region >

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Notes and References


*Avg Tuition and Fees and Avg 4-Year Grad Rate are for the top 3 schools only.


  • 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.
  • Revenue and expense information comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis (EADA) website.
  • The academic progress rate (APR) of each team was made available by the NCAA.
  • 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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