Skip to content

In the Midwest, we appreciate “good value for money.” Whether you are searching for a bargain in your education, preparing for a career after graduation, or seeking an incredible cultural experience as part of your studies abroad, how you define “good value” may vary. Let’s look at how colleges and universities in the U.S. Midwest provide what you seek.

Cost of living

If you’ve traveled to the U.S. before, it’s likely been to big cities on the West or East Coast. Places like New York, Boston, San Francisco or Los Angeles can be quite expensive. Everything from housing to food to entertainment will cost more.

We asked Kali Heifetz, Managing Director of UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago) Global: What separates the Midwest from other regions in terms of quality of life for students? Heifetz believes that even though Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S., it is “much more affordable for students in comparison to other cities across the country.” She cites Crain’s Chicago Business, which lists Chicago as more affordable than nearly 20 of the other largest U.S. cities.

In smaller cities and towns across the Midwest, the costs can be even lower than in Chicago, particularly with food, housing, and personal expenses. College towns typically offer everything a student needs within an easy walk or shuttle ride from campus.

Quality of life

Life in a U.S. university is different from university in your own country. Typically, a real sense of community outside the classroom contributes to students’ sense of well-being and engagement. With resources like recreational facilities, libraries, student organizations, concerts, comedy shows, or sporting events, colleges and universities in the United States try to comprehensively meet their students’ needs.

Ms. Heifetz says, “UIC delivers great value to international students both academically and professionally. This year, UIC was ranked among the top ten Best Value universities on the joint Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education list that considers overall ranking, campus resources, student outcomes and additional factors.”

Value can also be found in the location of the campus. For UIC, the campus is only a few minutes from downtown Chicago. Metropolitan Chicago is home to 30+ Fortune 500 companies. When international students search for professional work experience during and after their studies, so many potential employers is a great advantage. Heifetz points to the fact that graduates of UIC “earn nearly 50 percent more than the average U.S. salary for students who have attended college.”

But it’s not only in Midwestern big cities where this kind of value can be found. Students at universities in rural and suburban towns in Kansas recently told local news outlet that their experiences have been “overwhelming and worth it.”


Cost is a primary concern for international students. As you search for funds to pay for your undergraduate education, it is important to consider both the cost of attendance (tuition + living expenses) and any scholarships available from colleges you consider.

At Northern Illinois University, international students pay tuition prices that are much lower than coastal  state universities. In addition to lower tuition rates, there may be scholarships available during the admissions process to U.S. colleges and also after students have enrolled. Kali Heifetz recalls that, this past semester, an international student received an additional financial award from the Office of International Affairs.

In the end, Midwestern colleges and universities generally provide excellent value for your parents’ money. You will find many hidden gems. Good luck with your search!