Top 20 Colleges In Illinois, As Ranked By The Economist

The Economist has picked out its top colleges in the country for the first time ever- and the list of the best Illinois colleges may surprise you.

Using the U.S. Department of Education's college scorecard, the Economist created its rankings based on one basic idea:

(T)he economic value of a university is equal to the gap between how much money its students subsequently earn, and how much they might have made had they studied elsewhere.

The Economist analyzed the class of 2001's median income 10 years after graduation and looked at factors like sex, race, college size and how many students received Pell Grants for low-income families. The rankings also factored in what students were studying- an art school graduate probably will make less than an engineering graduate, even if the art school was a good choice economically.

But like any ranking, this list has its problems. The college scorecard only includes students who applied for federal financial aid, so some graduates might not have been counted. The data also only follows students for 10 years after they graduate, so that could leave out some potential high-earners, like doctors, who have been in graduate school.

Here are the top 20 Illinois colleges from the Economist's rankings.