NIU ranks third on’s “Return on Investment” list

By Robert Baird

The lifetime earnings accumulated by NIU graduates outweigh the cost of tuition, according to the recent 2012 survey results at has a Return on Investment Package ranking system that measures “what you pay to attend versus what you get back in lifetime earnings.”

Of the twelve public, four-year universities in Illinois, NIU is ranked third. The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (overall national rank No. 50) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (overall national rank 370) were the only two schools ranked higher than NIU (overall national rank 401).

“We certainly are really proud to be in the top third in the nation,” said Cindy Henderson, executive director of Career Services at NIU, according to NIU Today. “To rank so high in the State of Illinois, where most of our students come from and then work after graduation, certainly meets the expectation that they and their families have for when they leave NIU with a degree.”

More than 850 U.S. colleges (for both in and out-of-state tuition when applicable) were ranked in 2012 by

To determine an institution’s ranking for the Return on Investment Package, collects data surveys from employees with bachelor’s degrees (no advanced degrees, like law or medicine, are included). NIU ranked 120 out of 395 in-state public universities.

“It’s not uncommon these days for a college student to graduate with $50,000 or more in debt,” said NIU alumna Rachael Wilson.

Wilson is a fourth grade teacher at Kaneland John Shields Elementary.

“NIU’s tuition rates are so much cheaper than other similar universities,” Wilson said. “It’s good to hear that the investment pays off.”

The typical starting salary for an NIU graduate is $42,600 after graduation, according to the organization.

NIU placed 108 out of 452 in the mid-career salary rank for state schools, according to

“I’m hoping to get promoted at my accounting firm soon,” said NIU accounting alumnus Joe Heidbreder, who’s currently an intern at CliftonLarsonAllen. “They’re training me as though they plan on keeping me, so we’ll see. I really believe the education I received at NIU was worth the money, though.”

The average salary of a male NIU graduate is $49,293 to $88,287, while the average salary of a female NIU graduate is $39,820 to $72,092, according to They also relayed that Chicago, Rockford and Naperville are among the top cities that huskies get hired.

“Six months after graduating, I was hired at Edwards Hospital [in Naperville] as a fitness specialist and personal trainer,” said NIU alumna Ashley Watts. She graduated in May 2012 with a major in exercise science. “I was already working as a personal trainer at Charter Fitness [in Sycamore] when I got hired at Edwards. I’m making double every training session what I made as an undergrad.”

NIU Career Services encourages students to attend career and job fairs that are held every semester. The next internship fair will be on Feb. 19 at the Convocation Center. The next full-time job fair for NIU seniors and alumni only will be on Feb. 20 at the Convocation Center. Career Services also encourage students to attend workshops that focus on interviewing, networking, job search strategy, business dining etiquette and career-decision making.

To contact Career Services, call 815-753-1641, email or visit the Campus Life Building, Room 220.