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How Much Are Chicago's College Graduates Earning?

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Sep 15, 2015 3:05PM

How much money can Chicago's college graduates hope to earn within ten years of getting their degrees, and is it worth the tens of thousands of dollars many spend on their college educations?

A new trove of federal college data shows the outlook of earning more than someone with only a high school diploma is bleak for the grads of some Chicago colleges, including Saint Augustine College and East-West University. Meanwhile, at the areas top (and most expensive) universities like the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, college grads can expect to earn an average of just over $60,000 a year ten years after graduation. It's not bad, but considering four years of private school can cost in the realm of $200,000, it's not that great, either.

While many have debated the question of whether college is worth its astronomical costs and the insanity of student loan rates, until now little has been done to show one of the most tangible measurements of post-college success: earning power.

The U.S. Department of Education released a new trove of data Saturday in the form of a website called College Scorecard that shows how much money college graduates at hundreds of schools around the country are making ten years after earning their degrees. The site also compares those numbers to the national average and to $25,000 a year—the average income of a U.S. citizen with a high school diploma but no college degree.

The data is collected from graduates who received a federal college loan or grant, but education officials say the database is representative enough to be useful.

Some colleges do not fare well in the so-called scorecard. Data from well-respected private schools like Bennington College in Vermont and Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson showed many graduates not earning much more than $25,000 a year, even ten years after graduating, according to the New York Times. The typical "elite" schools—think, the Harvards and the Yales—show many students have the potential to earn six-figure incomes after school. But the numbers might also trend to the lower-end of the spectrum for some schools because of graduates going on to graduate school, where many students cannot hope to earn more than $25-30,000 a year, if anything.

The average annual income of a graduate at each of these Chicago-area colleges, 10 years after graduation:

  • Illinois Institute of Technology: $68,200

  • University of Chicago: $62,800

  • Loyola University Chicago: $50,600

  • National Louis University: $43,700

  • DePaul University: $50,900

  • Saint Xavier University: $45,300

  • University of Illinois at Chicago: $51,600

  • Roosevelt University: $44,600

  • North Park University: $41,400

  • Northeastern Illinois University: $36,000

  • Robert Morris University: $33,200

  • Chicago State University: $34,200

  • City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College: $31,500

  • Columbia College: $32,700

  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago: $31,700

  • Saint Augustine College: $24,600

  • City Colleges of Chicago-Harry S. Truman: $27,100

  • East-West University: $22,300

  • Northwestern University: $64,100