Financial Aid and Student Loans in Illinois

Illinois is an excellent state to choose as a home and an even better place to go to school, though nobody said it was cheap. Ranking as the 6th most expensive state in the country to go to college, 4 year colleges in Illinois average $41,616 per year. Some of the top schools in the country are found here, paralleled by some of the best assistance programs, so going to school in Illinois is a great choice.

When thinking about how you will pay for college, Funding U provides a specific checklist of payment options that we recommend to help you avoid paying too much out-of-pocket, or borrowing more money than you need to graduate.

Forethought to pursue opportunities, such as scholarships and grants, will open significant opportunities for you or someone you care for to attend college in Illinois, and you can significantly lower the costs, too.

Below, we go over some of the grants, scholarships, and student loan opportunities available for students in Illinois to help pay for college.

What scholarship programs does Illinois have?

Here are some of the scholarship programs Illinois offers students interested in college.

Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois

The Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program is meant for exceptionally talented students to pursue education careers, especially if they have excelled in the academic arena.

The program encourages these students to teach at high-need and hard-to-staff schools by providing financial assistance for tuition, fees, room and board, and even commuter allowances at any of the participating colleges in the program.

As a freshman and sophomore, you can qualify for up to $2,500. In your junior and senior years, the award doubles to a $5,000 maximum.

Part of the application process is that you must agree to teach, on a full-time basis, for at least five years at a nonprofit Illinois public, private, or parochial preschool, elementary, or secondary school. It should be an institution that is considered a School of Need according to the program guidelines.

After the completion of your degree or certificate program for which the assistance was awarded, you must begin teaching within two years. If the teaching commitment is not fulfilled, the award will convert to a loan, which must be repaid (with interest).

According to the Illinois State Assistance Commission, to qualify you must:

  • be named as a Golden Apple Scholar by the Golden Apple Foundation
  • be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • be a resident of Illinois (if you are dependent, both you and your parent or guardian must be residents of Illinois)
  • be a high school graduate or hold a General Educational Development (GED) certificate
  • earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (for a sophomore, junior, or senior)

Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program

If you are a person of color and plan on becoming a teacher, you can take advantage of this program by considering working at an underprivileged school with minority children.

If you plan to teach:

  • at a nonprofit Illinois public, private, or parochial preschool, elementary school, or secondary school,
  • for which the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has determined that no less than 30 percent of the enrolled students are African American/Black, Hispanic American, Asian American, or Native American; and
  • you are of African American/Black, Hispanic American, Asian American or Native American origin, then
  • you may qualify for up to $5,000 per year as part of the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program.

According to the Illinois State Assistance Commission, to qualify you must:

  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen or meet the “undocumented student” criteria of the RISE Act
  • be a resident of Illinois
  • be a minority student of either African American/Black, Hispanic American, Asian American or Native American origin
  • be a high school graduate or hold a General Educational Development (GED) certificate
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment on at least a half-time basis as an undergraduate or graduate student
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment at an Illinois institution of higher education in a course of study, which qualifies you to be licensed as a preschool, elementary or secondary school teacher by the Illinois State Board of Education (including alternative teacher licensure)
  • have earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale if enrolled at the sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate level

Nursing Education Scholarship Program

Have you considered going to school to earn a certificate in practical nursing? Are you currently pursuing an associate degree in nursing or a hospital-based diploma in nursing? How about a bachelor’s or graduate degree in nursing?

Do you have a substantial financial need you can demonstrate? Then, you may be qualified to win the Nursing Education Scholarship.

The scholarship offers financial aid to qualified students for one to four years (as long as you remain active in your nursing pursuit). If you’re granted an award, you’re required to begin full- or part-time employment as a licensed practical or registered nurse in Illinois within six months of graduation.

You must then remain employed for the same amount of time as the aid supported your education.

If you decide to end your studies or cannot find a job with your new degree, you will be required to repay the full scholarship amount (plus interest).

What grant programs does Illinois have?

Grants are always a preferred mechanism to fund your college experience because you’ll usually be exempted from having to repay the money.

Here are some of the most popular grant programs available to students in Illinois:

Monetary Award Program

The Monetary Award Program (MAP) provides grants to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges and demonstrate financial need. It is based on the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You are not required to submit high school grades or test scores when applying for a MAP grant, and it is not limited to traditional college-aged students. If all eligibility requirements are met, adult and non-traditional students (older than recent high school graduates) may also qualify. MAP grants can be applied toward tuition and mandatory fees exclusively.

Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program

If you are a member of the Illinois National Guard, you may be eligible to receive the Illinois National Guard (ING), Grant.

The grant can pay for eligible tuition and other specific fees, like registration, graduation, general activity, matriculation, and term fees. It applies for undergraduate or graduate study.

If you have GI Bill benefits, you can use benefits under both plans.

Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program

You may be eligible for the Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program if you have served:

  • at least one year of federal active duty service in the Armed Forces of the United States
  • on federal active duty service in a foreign country during a time of hostilities in that country
  • and were honorably discharged after each period of federal active duty service
  • or are honorably serving.

Qualified applicants are encouraged to submit an IVG Program application if they anticipate attending college at any point in the future. Program eligibility can be confirmed for qualified applicants at any time, and funds will be disbursed only for terms in which you are enrolled at an Illinois public college or community college.

Grant Programs for Dependents of Police or Firefighters

If you are the spouse or child of an Illinois police or fire officer who was killed (or became at least 90 percent disabled) in the line of duty, you may be eligible for the Grant Program for Dependents of Police or Fire Officers.

The grant helps toward college tuition and mandatory fees for undergraduate or graduate study at an approved Illinois college. You may receive assistance for a maximum of the equivalent of four academic years (eight semesters or 12 quarters) of full-time enrollment.

What student loan programs does Illinois have?

Illinois does not have any unique student loan programs through the state government. It is always beneficial to look at federal loan options and fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA application to determine federal funding options, though.

Federal Student Loans

Prospective Illinois students can receive federal financial aid assistance by completing the FAFSA.

Private Co-Signed Student Loans

There are many private student loan opportunities for those who need additional assistance on top of federal student loans.

No Co-Signer Student Loans in Illinois

Funding U offers no co-signer student loans to individuals currently in college. The requirements for receiving a loan are dependent upon the GPA of the student, and the graduation rate of the institution they attend. Learn more about no co-signer student loans here.

What schools does Funding U lend to in Illinois?

Funding U’s no co-signer loans are offered to students at eligible four-year, nonprofit, undergraduate degree-granting universities (which means we do not lend to for-profit schools, 2-year schools, graduate schools, or trade schools).

Our eligibility requirements are based on models that predict how likely a student is to graduate, and we have minimum GPA requirements that students must meet and minimum six-year graduation rates that schools must reach to be eligible.

Find out more about how we determine our eligibility here.

Below is a table listing all of the schools in Illinois that Funding U is currently lending to, with additional details on which grades we are currently including based on the school’s six-year graduation rate.

School NameFreshman
6 yr
Grad Rate
American Academy of ArtNoNoYesYes6075
Augustana CollegeNoYesYesYes7487
Aurora UniversityNoNoYesYes5473
Benedictine UniversityNoNoNoNo4773
Blackburn CollegeNoNoYesYes5256
Bradley UniversityNoYesYesYes7886
Chicago State UniversityNoNoNoNo1961
Columbia College ChicagoNoNoNoNo4866
Concordia University-ChicagoNoNoNoNo4967
DePaul UniversityNoYesYesYes7284
Dominican UniversityNoNoYesYes6181
East-West UniversityNoNoNoNo1042
Eastern Illinois UniversityNoNoYesYes5875
Elmhurst CollegeNoNoYesYes6375
Eureka CollegeNoNoYesYes5471
Governors State UniversityNoNoNoNo54
Greenville UniversityNoNoYesYes5973
Hebrew Theological CollegeNoNoNoNo594
Illinois CollegeNoYesYesYes7077
Illinois Institute of TechnologyNoYesYesYes7290
Illinois State UniversityNoNoYesYes6981
Illinois Wesleyan UniversityNoYesYesYes7989
Judson UniversityNoNoYesYes6472
Knox CollegeNoYesYesYes7587
Lake Forest CollegeNoNoYesYes6985
Lakeview College of NursingNoNoNoNo
Lewis UniversityNoNoYesYes6480
Lincoln Christian UniversityNoYesYesYes7182
Loyola University ChicagoNoYesYesYes7483
MacMurray CollegeNoNoNoNo4263
McKendree UniversityNoNoYesYes5475
Methodist CollegeNoNoNoNo4684
Millikin UniversityNoNoYesYes5876
Monmouth CollegeNoNoYesYes5772
Moody Bible InstituteNoNoYesYes5883
National Louis UniversityNoNoNoNo2268
North Central CollegeNoNoYesYes6879
North Park UniversityNoNoYesYes6071
Northeastern Illinois UniversityNoNoNoNo2146
Northern Illinois UniversityNoNoNoNo4673
Northwestern UniversityYesYesYesYes9598
Olivet Nazarene UniversityNoNoYesYes6178
Principia CollegeNoYesYesYes7588
Quincy UniversityNoNoYesYes5264
Robert Morris University IllinoisNoNoNoNo4051
Rockford UniversityNoNoNoNo3866
Roosevelt UniversityNoNoNoNo3964
Saint Anthony College of NursingNoNoNoNo0
Saint Francis Medical Center College of NursingNoNoNoNo
Saint Xavier UniversityNoNoYesYes5772
School of the Art Institute of ChicagoNoNoYesYes6581
Southern Illinois University-CarbondaleNoNoNoNo4167
Southern Illinois University-EdwardsvilleNoNoNoNo4973
Telshe Yeshiva-ChicagoNoNoNoNo685
Trinity Christian CollegeNoNoYesYes6086
Trinity International University-IllinoisNoNoNoNo4667
University of ChicagoYesYesYesYes9499
University of Illinois at ChicagoNoNoYesYes5980
University of Illinois at SpringfieldNoNoYesYes5178
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignNoYesYesYes8492
University of St FrancisNoNoYesYes6280
VanderCook College of MusicNoNoNoNo4371
Western Illinois UniversityNoNoNoNo4668
Wheaton College (Illinois)NoYesYesYes8793

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