Illinois Financial Aid
There are many Illinois colleges and universities for residents of the state to choose from. However, most students will need financial assistance to help them pay for the cost of their postsecondary education. Luckily, the state of Illinois offers many different scholarship and grant programs to its residents and students attending state colleges and universities. Illinois financial aid comes in the form of private and state scholarships, grants and student loans.
Illinois Scholarships and Grants
Financial aid comes in many forms, and virtually all students will argue the best way to obtain financial aid in Illinois is through scholarships. This is because scholarships are essentially free money and do not need to be repaid, ever. Find a full list of Illinois scholarships and grants using the Campus Explorer Scholarship Search.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) offers 17 different scholarships to students attending Illinois colleges and universities. Here is a sampling of the 17 scholarships offered by ISAC:
- State Scholar Program: Eligible applicants include residents of Illinois who recently graduated from an approved high school who rank in the upper half of their class.
- Monetary Award Program: Specifically geared towards students completing an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, certificate or diploma in health education at eligible colleges and universities in Illinois.
- Golden Apples Scholars of Illinois: All Illinois high school students and some college students attending one of the 53 eligible Illinois college and university may receive this award. Students must be nominated by their teachers, counselors, non-family adults or by the students themselves.
- Robert C. Byrd: Residents of Illinois who are attending school in at any US Department of Education-approved college in the state who demonstrate a strong academic record through GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores.
- Bonus Incentive Grant (BIG) Program: Students who are using at least 70% of bonds to pay for their education at an Illinois college or university may participate in this grant program. The award amount ranges between $40 and $440 per $5,000 of bonds and is determined by the date the bond is scheduled to mature.
- to Student Program of Matching Grants: Students enrolled in an eligible Illinois public university or Illinois public community college, who do not qualify for the MAP grant can apply to this grant in which the state matches funds that the student is able to pay.
- Grant Programs for Dependents of Police/Fire/Correctional Officers: Eligible applicants are the children and spouses of police officers, correctional officers or fire officers who were permanently disabled or killed in the line of duty.
- Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship: Students attending a participating Illinois college or university degree program that will lead to a preschool, elementary or secondary school teaching certification by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) can apply to this scholarship.
- Nurse Educator Scholarship Program (NESP): A scholarship for Illinois graduate students who are residents of the state, and are enrolled on at least a half-time basis in an approved degree program of professional or practical nursing education.
Scholarships from Illinois Colleges and Universities
Community colleges, career colleges and 4-year colleges and universities in Illinois also offer scholarships to admitted students based on financial need and merit. One example is the Bessie Myers Music Scholarship from Western Illinois University (WIU), which provides up to $500 in renewable funds to any student attending WIU who demonstrates outstanding achievements in music. Illinois State University has many scholarships opportunities available to current students, including the Illinois State University Black Colleagues Association Scholarship, which was formed to support young African-Americans seeking a college degree who also demonstrate financial need. Other Illinois university and college funded scholarships may be found in the financial aid section of each school’s Website.
You may have narrowed down what major you want to pursue, and the state in which you want to attend college, but what about the city? Some cities in Illinois have more colleges than others, and are thus more catered to the college student. Also, you may be able to find more scholarships in cities with more colleges. The top 5 cities in Illinois with the largest number of colleges and universities are Chicago, Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Skokie.
Other Scholarships for Illinois
There are many scholarship opportunities to attend Illinois colleges and universities. When the state and school resources are all tapped out, there are private, public and nonprofit community organizations that offer scholarships to Illinois residents and students.
- ComEd/NLEI Latino Scholarship: Qualified students are of Illinois residents of Latino descent and are attending a 4-year college or university in the nation’s growing industries, including math, engineering, communications and media relations, chemistry, physics, liberal arts, law and pre-law, business, computer science, or accounting.
- Illinois CPA Society Herman J. Neal Scholarship Program: Required qualifications include Illinois residents who are of African-American descent and pursuing an accounting degree and a CPA designation at an Illinois college or university. The student must also have at least a 3.0 GPA.
- Community Bankers Association Annual Essay Scholarship Program: Up to $4,000 scholarship that offers 13 scholarships to top Illinois seniors who are at the top of their class. The required essay helps students to understand the importance of community banking on the economy. The Community Bankers Association offers the Shazam Scholarship and the William C. Harris Scholarship for children and grandchildren of eligible CBAI-member bank employees.
- Community Foundation of Northern Illinois: This is a comprehensive scholarship database for first-time freshman students, current college students and non-traditional students continuing their education. All scholarships apply to accredited private nonprofit or publicly supported colleges and universities in the state of Illinois.
- Illinois State Historical Society (ISHS) Scholarships: The ISHS offers two scholarships. The Verna Ross Orndoff Scholarship offers a $1,000 award based on a research paper on Abraham Lincoln or a significant event in the Civil War era in Illinois. The V. Hostick Scholarship is for graduate students who are pursuing a degree in history and library science and are writing dissertations on the subject of Illinois. This award goes up to $3,000.
- Illinois Foster & Adoptive Parent Association (IFAPA): Only children of members of the IFAPA between the ages of 17 and 23 are qualified to apply for this scholarship.
- Illinois Education Foundation (IEF): Specifically geared towards Chicago area teens and young adults who may not have the best academic standing, but demonstrate the will to succeed and have significant financial need. This scholarship not only pays for the cost of obtaining a 2-year degree in addition to student support services from the foundation, including academic advising, tutoring and mentoring.
Illinois Student Loans
The College Zone of Illinois, the same organization that offers scholarships and grants to Illinois residents also deals with student loan counseling and applications. Loans accrue interest while the student is attending college and must be paid back in its entirety, so this should be an option that is explored after all scholarship and grant opportunities have been exhausted.