Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, and offers a bustling but manageable city center, a large urban park, and over 18 miles of scenic, waterfront trails along the shores of Lake Michigan. Chicago's cold winters are not for the faint of heart, but by St. Patrick's Day in March Chicagoans flock outside to see the Chicago River dyed a bright emerald green. The city's central, Midwestern location and approachable size and style make it a good choice for college students. There are several great schools in Chicago. College Confidential's picks below all offer a high-quality academic experience, plus high retention and graduation rates, and manageable student loan debt for graduates.
The University of Chicago has a 217-acre campus in the residential Hyde Park neighborhood. Hyde Park is 20 minutes south of downtown, near the shores of Lake Michigan. In the spring and summer, The U of Chicago campus is full of leafy trees, green lawns, and old gothic buildings covered in ivy. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start at UChicago, around 99% return for their sophomore year. Around 96% of students who started at UChicago earn their Bachelor's degrees within six years. Best of all, UChicago meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for undergrads. The average financial aid package for a first-year students is $60,875 a year. Among students that still needed to take some loans, the average student debt carried at graduation is around $26,560 per student.
Northwestern University's main campus is just outside of Chicago, in the suburb of Evanston, IL. However Northwestern's second campus is in downtown Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood. Northwestern meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $55,856 a year. About 97% of students who start at Northwestern come back the next year. Northwestern's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 95%.
Illinois Tech is located in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, just a few minutes south of downtown and a mile from the shores of Lake Michigan. Out of all the first-year, full-time undergrads who start college at Illinois Tech, around 87% return for their sophomore year. Illinois Institute of Technology's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 72%. The average starting salary for recent grads is $64,148 a year. Graduates in the class of 2021 had an average of $31,205 in student loans per borrower. Illinois Institute of Technology meets 80% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. First-year students that attend Illinois Institute of Technology full-time are awarded $43,772 a year in financial aid, on average.
DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the country. DePaul has two campuses in Chicago. The Lincoln Park campus is close to Lake Michigan and Chicago's biggest park. The Loop Campus is in the city's bustling business district. About 83% of students who start at DePaul University come back for their second year of college, and 71% graduated within six-years. DePaul meets 67% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. First-year students that attend full-time are awarded an average financial aid package of $28,473 a year.
Loyola University Chicago is one of the top Jesuit schools in the country, and has two main campuses in the heart of Chicago. Loyola's Lake Shore Campus is on Chicago's North Side, near Lake Michigan. The Water Tower campus is downtown, near North Michigan Ave and Chicago's famous Magnificent Mile. About 85% of students who start at Loyola University Chicago return for their second year of college. Loyola University Chicago's six-year graduation rate for undergrads is 76%. Loyola University Chicago meets 84.5% of the demonstrated financial need for undergraduates. The average financial aid package for a full-time, first-year student is around $35,074 a year.
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