Photo of NEIU's Main Campus overlooking the Commons

Friday, September 24, 2021

Northeastern Illinois University graduates its students with the least amount of student debt among Midwest regional universities, according to the 2022 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” publication. Northeastern also ranked in three other categories among Midwest regional universities:

  • 5th, ethnic diversity
  • 10th (tied), economic diversity 
  • 28th, social mobility

Northeastern also ranked 11th in the state (tied) for undergraduate computer science programs and 12th in the state (tied) for undergraduate business programs. 

“I am thrilled that Northeastern Illinois University continues to be recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for low student debt, ethnic and economic diversity and social mobility,” President Gloria J. Gibson said. “These rankings are a direct reflection of NEIU’s commitment to our students—welcoming all, regardless of background and helping them achieve their academic and professional goals.”

This marks the eighth year in a row that Northeastern has earned the No. 1 spot for students who graduate with the least amount of debt among Midwest regional universities. Northeastern’s 2018 and 2019 bachelor’s degree graduates borrowed a median of $14,662. The data represent loans taken out by students from the U.S. Department of Education. Private loans, state and local government loans, and loans directly to parents are not included.

Northeastern has been on U.S. News & World Report’s list of most diverse universities since 1997, the first year the publication established the category in its “Best Colleges” rankings. The data for the diversity rankings were drawn from each institution’s Fall 2020 undergraduate degree-seeking enrollment numbers. According to U.S. News & World Report, the rankings factored in the proportion of minority students—excluding international students—and the overall mix of groups in each institution’s student body. The groups forming the basis for the calculations were non-Hispanic African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Asian, non-Hispanic white and multiracial (two or more races).

Northeastern’s ethnic diversity reflects the urban environment of Chicago. The largest minority group of students at Northeastern is Hispanic/Latinx/a/o, and the school was the first four-year public university in the Midwest federally designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

U.S. News & World Report’s economic diversity ranking is a measure of the percentage of students with Pell grants, which are awarded to students from low-income families.

Northeastern was second among Illinois regional public universities in the social mobility ranking, which demonstrates movement up the socioeconomic ladder.


Badge of U.S. News and World Report "Best Colleges for Social Mobility 2022"