Illinois, also known as the “Land of Lincoln,” is home to some of the most renowned colleges in the Midwest. From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to Northwestern, there is a college for all students!
Illinois scholarships are also available to help pay for college. The following list contains some of the best scholarships to help make your Illinois education a reality. Keep on reading to learn more about the top Illinois scholarships including deadlines, award amounts, and eligibility requirements.
How to win Illinois scholarships
Illinois is home to the third largest city in the United States (Chicago!) as well as countless universities and colleges. Therefore, it is no surprise that winning Illinois scholarships is on the top of list for many students. In order to win Illinois scholarships, you should focus on the uniqueness of yourself as well as Illinois as a state. Scour the internet and Scholarships360 for available scholarships that align with your interests. Once you find these perfectly catered scholarships, you should then respond using aspects from your Illinois life to give you a leg up on the competition.
Scholarship application resources for Illinois scholarships
It may be necessary to write an essay about yourself in order to win Illinois scholarships. Therefore, read over our Scholarships360 ultimate guide to finding and winning scholarships to help ensure you are prepared to win Illinois scholarships! Anything you could need is at your fingertips with Scholarships360 from guides on how to start a scholarship essay to how to write a scholarship resume. So, be sure to check out our other resources to help you win Illinois scholarships!
Illinois college loan debt snapshot
According to the Department of Education, Illinois residents owe $61.6 billion in federal student loan debt, with student borrowers owing an average of $37,757 each (this does not include private loans). In Illinois, 54.5% of student loan borrowers are under the age of 35. As you are starting your higher education journey, remember that scholarships allow students to take less loans. Make sure that you apply to as many as you qualify for.
Merit scholarships at Illinois colleges and universities
- Eligibility: Determined based on outstanding academic achievement, extracurricular achievement, demonstrated leadership and commitment to your community
- Amount: At least $2,000
- Deadline: Admission to University of Chicago
- Eligibility: Variety of merit-based scholarships for incoming first-year students, both residents and non-residents
- Amount: $2,000 up to full tuition
- Deadline: Admission to UIUC
- Eligibility: Northwestern University scholarships are based on financial need and decision is made based on admission application
- Amount: $250 up to $40,000
- Deadline: Admission to Northwestern
- Eligibility: Must be an Illinois resident and senior graduating from an Illinois high school. Be ranked 1st in your graduating class or have a 3.8+ GPA
- Amount: up to $10,000 per year
- Deadline: Early December
- Eligibility: Incoming first-year students to IIT who display outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement and leadership
- Amount: Up to full cost of tuition
- Deadline: Varies
- Eligibility: Incoming first-year students to Principia College with a 3.6+ GPA
- Amount: $5,000 up to $25,000
- Deadline: Admission to Principia College
Consider in-state tuition and tuition reciprocity
In-state tuition provides students with a lower cost compared to out-of-state tuition rates. Additionally, many universities and colleges reserve scholarships and financial aid for in-state students, which helps reduce the cost of attending college for those who live there.
Here are a few well-known Illinois universities and their in-state vs out-of-state tuition costs:
- In-state tuition: $17,572
- Out-of-state tuition: $36,068
- In-state tuition: $10.776
- Out-of-state tuition: $25,126
How do you get in-state tuition?
It is clear that in-state tuition is a cheaper option when compared to out-of-state tuition for Illinois public universities. So, to become an Illinois resident for tuition purposes you would need to live in Illinois for one full year for non-educational purposes. Meaning, you cannot attend school during the year you’re establishing residency. Additionally, you will need to establish a domain in Illinois which includes obtaining an Illinois driver’s license or becoming employed in Illinois. Make sure that your intended Illinois college doesn’t have any additional requirements to obtain in-state tuition!
Does Illinois have tuition reciprocity?
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Additional resources for Illinois students
This organization provides a variety of scholarships funded through annual appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor. Scholarships are available for students studying teaching, nursing, and show financial need.
Students pursuing a certificate in practical nursing, an associate degree in nursing, a hospital-based diploma in nursing or a bachelor’s or graduate degree in nursing and demonstrate financial need can be eligible for tuition assistance through this program. The application cycle for this scholarship is from March 1 through April 30.
All first-generation college students will be awarded a $20,000 scholarship over four years as part of the First Phoenix Scholarship program at the University of Chicago. Awards are made to students whose parents did not attain a degree from a four-year college or university. Applicants who qualify will automatically be considered and need not submit any additional materials beyond the application for admission.
On October 1st of every year, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens nationwide. Illinois students should complete the FAFSA as soon as possible to be eligible for federal student aid as well as some scholarships.
Frequently asked questions about Illinois scholarships
Does Illinois offer free college?
Do I need to be an Illinois resident to qualify for Illinois scholarships?
What is the Illinois “Golden Apple” Scholarship?
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