Online Colleges in Illinois

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Illinois boasts dozens of well known, top-ranking colleges and universities.

While the state has fought to maintain funding for higher learning, and has had to make due with drastic budget cuts, the schools continue to rise to the top. Even the state’s community college’s are setting the bar high!

Overview of Higher Education in Illinois

There are 157 degree-granting institutions in Illinois, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of the 157, 60 are public, 80 are private non-profit and 17 are for-profit.

Tuition in the state is much higher than the national average. To attend one of the state’s 4-year institutions, NCES reports that residents will pay an average of $14,259. Those coming from out of state will pay $28,522, on average.

Residents of neighboring states may get a break, though, thanks to Illinois’ membership in the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP). Through the MSEP, public universities agree to charge no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate to residents of the 9 participating states.

About Online Colleges in Illinois

Most colleges and universities in Illinois offer online degree programs. According to the NCES, 14.5% of students in Illinois are enrolled in fully online degree programs. An additional 14.6% are enrolled in one or more online courses.

Illinois Online, through the University of Illinois, is a top choice for many online students. The research university boasts more than 1700 online classes, and 100 online degree, certificate and endorsement programs. The University of Illinois at Chicago offers 12 online degree programs, and is ranked among the Top 5 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by the US News and World Report.

Illinois community colleges are equally progressive. The Illinois Community Colleges Online (ILCCO), a consortium of community colleges in the state, provides a database of every distance course and program offered at an Illinois community college, and offers streamlined enrollment and prep courses.

Scholarships and Financial Aid in Illinois

If you’re thinking about attending a college or university in Illinois, you should first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will give you access to federal, state and private financial aid.

You will want to fill out your application as soon as possible. The FAFSA becomes available each year on October 1st, and funds are distributed on a first come first served basis.

To fill it out, you will need to include financial information for yourself as well as your parents (unless you’re considered an “independent” according to FAFSA’s requirements).

This information will be used to calculate your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) and how much and what type of assistance you are offered.

College grants for Illinois students

Ideally, you will want to receive grants and scholarships, as they do not have to be repaid.

In addition to federal grants, the state of Illinois offers the following grant opportunities for residents:

  • Monetary Award Program (MAP) – Must maintain academic progress as determined by college; Award amount varies by school and year
  • Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program – Must be a National Guard member attending public universities or community colleges; Must maintain acceptable GPA as defined by the school; Covers full tuition and fees
  • Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program – Must have served at least one year of federal active duty service in the Armed Forces of the IS, a reserve component, or the Illinois National Guard, and meet additional qualifications; Must maintain acceptable GPA as defined by the school; Covers full tuition and fees
  • Grant Program for Dependents of Police or Fire Officers – Must be the spouse or child of a police or fire officer at the time of death or disability; Must maintain academic progress as determined by college; Covers full tuition and fees
  • Grant Program for Dependents of Correctional Officers – Must be the spouse or child of a correctional officer at the time of death or disability; Must maintain academic progress as determined by college; Covers full tuition and fees
  • Higher Education License Plate (HELP) Program – Must be attending a college for which the special collegiate license plates are available; Funds are contingent on number of license plates sold

Scholarships are the other type of ideal financial aid. Many scholarships are offered based on academic merit, but they may also be awarded based on geographic location, chosen field of study, unique traits or hobbies, and so on.

Here are some of the many scholarships open to Illinois residents:


Scholarship Name Details

Scholarship amount

Back 2 School Illinois Scholarship

High school senior

$2500 (multiple)

BLM Squared Scholarship

High school senior; GPA of 3.0 or higher; Must be a minority


Elmhurst Garden Club Scholarship College sophomores, juniors, seniors or graduate students; Majoring in Horticulture, Environmental Students, Biology, Botany or related sciences; GPA of 3.0 or higher

Up to $3,000 (4 or more)

Need more aid? is a great resource! Enter your information and the site will match you with dozens of scholarship opportunities.

Be sure to check with the financial aid office at the school you’ve chosen as well. They can tell you about any additional private aid that you may be eligible for.


List of Online Colleges in Illinois

Online Colleges in Illinois Location Annual Tuition Accreditation Application Fee
Chamberlain College of Nursing  Addison, Illinois  $19,230  Regional  $95


Illinois continues to be a strong leader in higher education.

With more than 157 institutions to choose from, both online and traditional programs, and plenty of financial aid available, the opportunities are endless!

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.