Illinois State University has been ranked among the top 50 universities in the country in Washington Monthly’s 2013 Best Bang for the Buck rankings. It is one of only two Illinois public universities to be included in the top 50.

In the monthly Washington, D.C.-based publication, Illinois State ranked No. 47 and was noted for its 71 percent graduation rate, affordability, and low loan default rate of 3 percent. The University’s graduation rate of 71 percent is far above the national average of 56 percent for public universities, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The 3 percent loan default rate is significantly lower than the 14.4 percent Illinois average and the 13.4 percent nationwide average.

“While Illinois State is already well known for its student success rates, this ranking recognizes our focus on helping graduate students while keeping debt under control,” said Troy Johnson, Illinois State’s associate vice president of Enrollment Management.

Jana Albrecht, director of financial aid, said about one-third of students will graduate with no debt. Each year, the university increases the amount of financial aid provided. Illinois State offered more than $34 million in institutional scholarships and grants last year to more than 7,000 students.

“More than 78 percent of our students receive some type of financial aid each year,” she said. “No matter what a family’s financial circumstances are, we work one-on-one with students to help them find a way to pay for college.”

Since 2005, Washington Monthly has reported rankings designed to recognize universities that are outpacing their peers in helping students finish college while keeping costs and prices under control. The rankings also measure how well colleges are doing balancing high academic standards with a commitment to research and service.