A student sits by a tree reading a book.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In its annual publication of “Best Colleges,” U.S. News & World Report announced this week that among Midwest regional universities, Northeastern Illinois University graduates its students with the least debt and is the most ethnically diverse of the public institutions in that category.

For the second year in a row, Northeastern has earned the No. 1 spot for students who graduate with the least amount of debt among Midwest regional universities. Only 18 percent of Northeastern’s 2014 graduating class incurred debt, and those students borrowed an average of $13,366. The University’s percentage of students incurring debt is the lowest among all regional universities in the country.

“Our students have always known that getting a degree at Northeastern means getting the best of both worlds: a high-quality, academically rigorous college experience and a head start in the real world that is free of many of the overwhelming financial encumbrances faced by those at other universities,” Northeastern President Sharon Hahs said. “We are known for our academic excellence, our diverse university community and our ability to keep rising college costs in check, so we are pleased that this national publication has recognized us for this.”

The data for the rankings were drawn from each institution’s 2014 graduating class. According to U.S. News & World Report, the data include loans taken out by students from the colleges themselves, from private financial institutions, and from federal, state and local governments. Parents’ loans are not included.

Northeastern has been on the list of most diverse universities since 1997, the first year U.S. News & World Report established this category in its “Best Colleges” rankings. The data for the diversity rankings were drawn from each institution’s 2014-15 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 African-American (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, American Indian, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, White (non-Hispanic) and multiracial.

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. The 2014 entering freshman class was 44 percent Hispanic.

“The diversity of our community transcends not only what we do, but how we do it,” Hahs said. “We welcome, accept, respect and embrace our differences because we value learning from others.”

About Northeastern Illinois University

Northeastern Illinois University is a fully accredited public university serving 10,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students in the Chicago metropolitan area. Northeastern engages its diverse university community in a rich environment of learning, teaching and scholarship. The University offers more than 80 academic programs in the arts, sciences, education and business. In 2012 Newsweek magazine named Northeastern Illinois University the sixth-best investment among all universities in the nation and No. 1 in Illinois. The University also is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the most diverse universities in the United States and is federally designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution.