Photo of Northeastern students in blue and yellow graduation regalia

Northeastern Illinois University again tops U.S. News & World Report’s low student debt ranking

Monday, September 9, 2019

Northeastern Illinois University graduates its students with the least amount of student debt among Midwest regional universities, according to the 2020 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” publication. Among Midwest regional universities, the report also listed Northeastern as the No. 1 public university in its diverse student population ranking and the No. 1 Illinois public university in its social mobility ranking.

This marks the sixth 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. Only 32 percent of Northeastern’s 2017 graduating class incurred debt, and those students borrowed a median of $15,000.

The data for the debt rankings were drawn from each institution’s 2017 graduating class. According to U.S. News & World Report, the data represent loans taken out by students from the federal government. Private loans, state and local government loans and loans directly to parents are not included.

According to a report released in August by LendEDU, Northeastern students graduate with the 13th-lowest student loan debt nationally among public four-year colleges and universities and the lowest debt among all Illinois institutions. Among all four-year colleges and universities, Northeastern ranks 27th.

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 2018 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 Latino, and the school was the first four-year public university in the Midwest federally designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Northeastern was third among Midwest regional universities from Illinois in the social mobility ranking, which demonstrates movement up the socioeconomic ladder.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are the latest of a string of positive national rankings for Northeastern this fall. Other recent rankings include:

  • For the fourth year in a row, The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Ranking listed Northeastern No. 1 in the category of Environment among all Midwest colleges and universities. Nationally, Northeastern is tied for 19th.
  • ASecureLife.com ranked Northeastern seventh in the nation and first in Illinois in a new report on colleges and universities with the lowest rates of property crime and violence associated with property crime.
  • Washington Monthly magazine ranked Northeastern first in Illinois and 34th among four-year universities nationwide on its list of Best Colleges for Adult Learners.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked Northeastern second in the nation among four-year public institutions for diversity among managers.