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Colleges in Northern Illinois: University Overviews

There are at least 150 public and private colleges within the northern Illinois area. See what several of these schools have to offer their students to help you decide where to attend.

There are many options when it comes to finding a northern Illinois school to attend, so it is important to consider a variety of factors before applying. Investigate net price, location, student population, and graduation rate for a number of schools based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Northern Illinois Schools Near Large Cities

It can often be appealing to attend school in a large city. Within northern Illinois, Chicago and Rockford are two of the largest cities and home to a number of colleges and universities. Here are 5 schools located in either Chicago or Rockford.

  • Columbia College - Chicago (Chicago)
  • University of Chicago (Chicago)
  • Northwestern University (Chicago)
  • Rockford University (Rockford)
  • Rock Valley College (Rockford)

Largest Schools in Northern Illinois

Large student populations often indicate more numerous options when it comes to activities on campus and larger average class sizes. If this is appealing to you, there are a variety of fairly large schools in the northern Illinois area. The five largest during the 2015 school year were:

  • University of Illinois at Chicago (29,048)
  • College of DuPage (28,678)
  • DePaul University (23,539)
  • DeVry University-Illinois (22,273)
  • Northwestern University (21,655)

Lowest Net Price

The NCES calculates a net price statistic to provide a consistent figure for comparing school costs. The number is based on the total undergraduate cost of attending the school, including tuition (in-district or in-state levels, where applicable) plus room, board, books and fees. The NCES then subtracts the average financial aid amount that undergraduates at that school receive. The schools with the lowest full-time undergraduate net prices during the 2014-2015 school year were:

  • Morton College ($3,999)
  • Elgin Community College ($4,332)
  • Moraine Valley Community College ($4,573)
  • College of Lake County ($4,590)
  • South Suburban College ($4,608)

Highest Graduation Rate

Graduation rates can often be viewed as a measure of how effective a school is as a learning institution. Statistics for graduation rates are based on the number of undergraduates who complete their desired degree in 150% of the 'normal time'. For example, most bachelor's degrees can be completed in four years, so the NCES includes all students who enrolled in the same year and finished a bachelor's program in six years or less. The schools with the highest graduation rates in the area are:

  • Northwestern University (93% for those enrolled by 2009)
  • University of Chicago (92% for those enrolled by 2009)
  • Wheaton College (89% for those enrolled by 2009)
  • Illinois Wesleyan University (83% for those enrolled by 2009)
  • Augustana College (76% for those enrolled by 2009)

As you can see, there are many options for northern Illinois colleges, meaning it is important to remember factors like proximity to large cities, student population, graduation rate, and net price before enrolling somewhere.


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