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For college students and their families worried about taking out a student loan, researching your options can minimize the debt burden that often accompanies a degree.

Before choosing a college, high school students and their families must complete the Free Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA) and apply to several colleges. The next step is to compare the financial aid offers of each school that accepts you.

Each school’s financial aid offer should clearly state how much a student’s first year of college will cost. For most students, this will also show how much they will need to borrow. But the financial aid offer won’t tell students what they can expect to earn after graduation, or how much debt it would be reasonable to incur.

The burden that debt creates doesn’t just depend on how much you borrow, but also how much you earn after you graduate. To help students and their families weigh their options, Credible ranked 71 four-year universities in Illinois by analyzing recent student debt-to-income ratios (DTIs). The lower the DTI ratio, the better.

Here are the charts and data you will find below:

Main conclusions

When you borrow for college, an old rule of thumb is not to take on more debt than your expected annual salary upon graduation. So, getting a DTI student loan greater than 1.0 could be problematic.

Some key points to remember from 71 schools analyzed:

  • Average DTI student loan: 0.66
  • Percentage of schools with a lower than average DTI: 44%
  • Number of schools with a DTI of 1.0 or higher: 6

Another widely followed measure is the percentage of students who are able to repay at least $ 1 in loan principal within three years of leaving school. In schools with higher DTIs, a smaller proportion of students are able to repay at least $ 1 in student loan debt within 3 years of graduation.

Lowest debt-to-income ratio *

1. Moody Bible Institute: 0.2
2. Northwestern University: 0.25
3. Saint Francis Medical Center Nursing College: 0.29
4.Rush University: 0.30
5. Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences Blessing: 0.31
6. University of Chicago: 0.31
7. Lakeview College of Nursing: 0.32
8. Chamberlain University-Illinois: 0.33
9. National University of Health Sciences: 0.35
10. University of the Resurrection: 0.38

Highest debt-to-income ratio *

62. Lincoln Christian University: 0.93
63. Columbia College Chicago: 0.95
64. DeVry-Illinois University: 0.96
65. School of the Art Institute of Chicago: 0.99
66. Chicago State University 1.06
67. University of Phoenix-Illinois: 1.16
68. American Intercontinental University: 1.22
69. Middle State College: 1.28
70. American Academy of Arts: 1.29
71. East-West University: 1.38

Lowest median debt at graduation

1. Moody Bible Institute: $ 5,500
2. National University of Health Sciences: $ 10,938
3. Northwestern University: $ 15,000
4. Saint Francis Medical Center Nursing College: $ 15,000
5. Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences Blessing: $ 15,000
6. University of Northeastern Illinois: $ 15,000
7. University of Chicago: $ 17,000
8. University of Illinois at Chicago: $ 17,400
9. University of Illinois at Springfield: $ 18,532
10. Lakeview College of Nursing: $ 18,750

Highest median debt at graduation

62. Millikin University: $ 27,000
63. College of Illinois: $ 27,000
64. Knox College: $ 27,000
65. American Academy of Arts: $ 30,125
66. DeVry-Illinois University: $ 31,206
67. Chicago State University: $ 31,250
68. University of Phoenix-Illinois: $ 32,813
69. American Intercontinental University: $ 33,677
70. Midstate College: $ 35,837
71. Methodist College: $ 36,314

Highest median income 6 years after enrollment

1. Chamberlain-Illinois University: $ 67,100
2. University of the Resurrection: $ 65,300
3. Rush University: $ 63,500
4. Northwestern University: $ 58,900
5. Lakeview College of Nursing: $ 58,800
6. Illinois Institute of Technology: $ 55,800
7. University of Chicago: $ 54,300
8. Saint-Antoine Nursing College: $ 54,100
9. Saint Francis Medical Center Nursing College: $ 51,900
10. Methodist College: $ 51,500

Lowest median income 6 years after enrollment

62. University of Phoenix-Illinois: $ 28,400
63. Blackburn College: $ 28,200
64. Midstate College: $ 27,900
65. American Intercontinental University: $ 27,700
66. Moody Bible Institute: $ 27,000
67. Columbia College Chicago: $ 26,900
68. School of the Art Institute of Chicago: $ 26,200
69. Lincoln Christian University: $ 25,300
70. American Academy of Arts: $ 23,300
71. East-West University: $ 18,700

Highest percentage of students repaying at least $ 1 in debt within 3 years of graduation

1. Wheaton College: 91.7%
2. Northwestern University: 91.3%
3. Saint-Antoine Nursing College: 90.6%
4. Illinois Institute of Technology: 89.9%
5. University of Chicago: 89.6%
6. Wesleyan University of Illinois: 88.5%
7. Trinity Christian College: 85.5%
8. University of the Resurrection: 85.3%
9. Bradley University: 84.8%
10. Lake Forest College: 84.7%

Lowest percentage of students repaying at least $ 1 in debt within 3 years of graduation

62. DeVry-Illinois University: 55.4%
63. Governing State University: 51.9%
64. Louis National University: 50.0%
65. National University of Health Sciences: 47.5%
66. Robert Morris Illinois University: 47.3%
67. University of Phoenix-Illinois: 42.1%
68. Midstate College: 40.7%
69. American Intercontinental University: 35.7%
70. Chicago State University: 34.3%
71. East-West University: 24.5%


*Methodology: This analysis is based on data collected by the Department of Education and made available to the public through College Scorecard. To calculate the DTI ratios for each school, Credible divided the median student loan debt at graduation by the median earnings of all students who were working and not enrolled in school six years after starting the school. university, including those who did not graduate. Data on debt at graduation was collected in 2017 and 2018. Earnings data was collected in 2014 and 2015 and adjusted by the Department of Education to 2017 dollars to account for the inflation. Data refer to schools which mainly award bachelor’s degrees. Schools that did not provide the data necessary to calculate the debt-to-earnings ratio were excluded. Since income is also dependent on field of study, students should also use College Scorecard to research debt and income by major.
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Keep reading: These Michigan colleges have the lowest and highest student loan debt-to-income ratios

About the Author

Matt Carter

Matt Carter is a credible student loan expert. The analytical articles to which he has contributed have been featured by CNBC, CNN Money, USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

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