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Survey shows NIU education worth it

DeKALB – The tens of thousands of dollars it costs to get a degree at Northern Illinois University is a better investment compared to the costs of other state colleges and similar institutions, according to a recent report.

PayScale, an organization that analyzes salary and career data released a report that shows the return on investment for students who earn a bachelor’s degree at NIU is better than almost all of the state’s 12 public, four-year universities, ranking behind only University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois at Chicago.

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

Cindy Henderson, executive director of career services at NIU, said validation from an independent organization such as PayScale is always a feather in the university’s cap and gives NIU important statistics to show parents of prospective students that their child’s future is bright.

“The traditional-age student usually isn’t thinking about [return on investment],” Henderson said. “But the people who help them make those decisions are, and we want to be able to say ‘Here are the statistics and here is what you can expect. ’ ”

Although the return on investment is strong after graduation, NIU’s ranking improves as graduates reach mid-career status. The university was ranked 108 out of 452 state schools surveyed nationwide when it came to return on investment for alumni in the middle of their careers.

Companies that target Huskies in bunches include Sears, Bank of America, Navistar and Allstate – all of which rank among the most popular companies for NIU graduates. Alumni realize high-end salaries ranging from $72,000 to $88,000 with those companies.

Henderson said one reason for the success is the university’s focus on getting students involved with the career process early on during their freshman and sophomore years. She said that when students prepare for different career choices, they position themselves to succeed in landing quality jobs.

“It’s about outreach and cultivating and building relationships so those employers continue to recruit here,” Henderson said. “We spend a lot of time with that to keep those relationships strong.”

NIU also fared well compared with other Mid-American Conference schools, ranking behind only Buffalo, University of Massachusetts and the University of Miami-Ohio.

Learn more

For a full look at how NIU compared to other schools and how PayScale calculated its rankings, visit

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