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Top Colleges in Illinois

Written by Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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Updated: May 7th, 2024

Students from across the country come to study in Illinois every year. With world-class institutions like the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and a strong public school system, it’s not hard to see why. Check out the list below to find some great college options in the Land of Lincoln.

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37 colleges
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Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City, Need-Blind

Chicago, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City, Need-Blind

6% acceptance rate
7,558 undergraduate students
96% graduation rate
$22,690 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City, Need-Blind

Evanston, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City, Need-Blind

7% acceptance rate
8,691 undergraduate students
95% graduation rate
$28,230 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College
Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL • Public, City

Champaign, IL

Public, City

60% acceptance rate
33,889 undergraduate students
85% graduation rate
$15,483 average per year after aid
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Wheaton College

Wheaton, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Wheaton, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

86% acceptance rate
2,301 undergraduate students
88% graduation rate
$25,287 average per year after aid
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Illinois Institute of Technology

Chicago, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City

Chicago, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City

66% acceptance rate
2,889 undergraduate students
71% graduation rate
$22,166 average per year after aid
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Illinois Wesleyan University

Bloomington, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City

Bloomington, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City

45% acceptance rate
1,646 undergraduate students
81% graduation rate
$27,611 average per year after aid
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Augustana College

Rock Island, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City

Rock Island, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City

69% acceptance rate
2,317 undergraduate students
79% graduation rate
$23,538 average per year after aid
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Bradley University

Peoria, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City

Peoria, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City

76% acceptance rate
4,319 undergraduate students
76% graduation rate
$24,835 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College: Affordability

University of Illinois Chicago

Chicago, IL • Public, City

Chicago, IL

Public, City

79% acceptance rate
22,011 undergraduate students
62% graduation rate
$11,329 average per year after aid
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Lake Forest College

Lake Forest, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Lake Forest, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

64% acceptance rate
1,657 undergraduate students
73% graduation rate
$23,642 average per year after aid
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Top College Top College: Affordability

Trinity Christian College

Palos Heights, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Palos Heights, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

76% acceptance rate
832 undergraduate students
67% graduation rate
$14,555 average per year after aid
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University of St Francis

Joliet, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Joliet, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

68% acceptance rate
1,519 undergraduate students
65% graduation rate
$16,578 average per year after aid
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Knox College

Galesburg, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Galesburg, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Town

70% acceptance rate
1,140 undergraduate students
75% graduation rate
$23,285 average per year after aid
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Loyola University Chicago

Chicago, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City

Chicago, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City

77% acceptance rate
11,739 undergraduate students
72% graduation rate
$27,330 average per year after aid
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Illinois State University

Normal, IL • Public, Suburb

Normal, IL

Public, Suburb

92% acceptance rate
17,632 undergraduate students
67% graduation rate
$20,579 average per year after aid
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Elmhurst University

Elmhurst, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Elmhurst, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

71% acceptance rate
2,791 undergraduate students
68% graduation rate
$23,036 average per year after aid
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Illinois College

Jacksonville, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Town

Jacksonville, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Town

75% acceptance rate
1,088 undergraduate students
64% graduation rate
$16,349 average per year after aid
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Lewis University

Romeoville, IL • Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

Romeoville, IL

Private, Non-Profit, Suburb

71% acceptance rate
3,799 undergraduate students
60% graduation rate
$17,323 average per year after aid
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DePaul University

Chicago, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City

Chicago, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City

69% acceptance rate
14,059 undergraduate students
70% graduation rate
$29,537 average per year after aid
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North Park University

Chicago, IL • Private, Non-Profit, City

Chicago, IL

Private, Non-Profit, City

67% acceptance rate
1,834 undergraduate students
61% graduation rate
$18,956 average per year after aid
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About the Data

We sort colleges on our lists according to their Scholarships360 Top Colleges Index Score. This score is calculated using up-to-date information taken directly from the College Scorecard. Additional information is sourced from the colleges themselves, as well as other publicly available information. If you see an error, feel free to contact us.

State Grants in Illinois

Most states offer their own state-wide grants to help residents obtain an affordable education. Here are some of the most prominent state-wide grants in Illinois:

Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP)

The MAP program offers need-based grants to Illinois students who are attending an approved Illinois college. They have no test score or grade requirements, and students of all ages are eligible. 

Illinois Commitment Program

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers a need-based full-tuition grant for in-state students. They’ll cover your full tuition and fees for four years if you qualify. The income threshold changes every year, so check their website for up-to-date information.

Illinois Tuition Reciprocity Agreements

Illinois as a state does not participate in any tuition reciprocity programs as of 2023. However, Illinois State University has struck up its own reciprocity program with Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. That means students from any of those states can attend Illinois State for in-state tuition rates.

Other college lists to explore

Frequently asked questions

What is the hardest Illinois college to get into?

University of Chicago and Northwestern University are the two Illinois colleges with the lowest admissions rates. Both schools are located in the Chicago area, and they have very strong academics and alumni networks.

Despite their low admission rates, it’s important to remember that every school is different, and a student’s application may catch an admissions officer’s eye at one school but not another. Don’t let a low admission rate discourage you from applying; remember, it’s important to apply to a couple of reach schools!

Why should I study in Illinois?

Illinois is a great state to attend college; In addition to the state’s many strong academic institutions, it is home to Chicago, a bustling city with great opportunities for employment, networking, and cultural enrichment. Illinois also has a lower cost of living than many comparable states. 

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