Accredited Schools & Colleges in Illinois

Illinois College Guide – What You Need to Know

Best Colleges & Universities in Illinois

The best colleges and universities in Illinois also happen to be some of the best in the nation. The Chicago area is home to Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and University of Illinois at Chicago, to name just three of the top schools. When you venture out of that sprawling megalopolis, you'll find countless opportunities for post-secondary education, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Wheaton College, and Bradley University.

Illinois not only has great universities, but it also has excellent opportunities that await its graduates. After you toss your cap in the air, there are plenty of employers waiting to snap you up for their management training programs, entry-level positions, and more. You can start off in the Chicago area, which is home to many Fortune 500 companies, top financial firms, and countless small businesses. Alternatively, you could take your world-class degree anywhere your heart desires. Illinois' fantastic opportunities will be waiting when you return.

What are the most popular bachelor's degrees offered in Illinois?

Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, is home to the United States' third largest city, borders a Great Lake, and grows tons of grains across its expansive plains. Bachelor's degrees in Illinois are also plentiful and you can study nearly anything you wish at one of the state's many public and private universities. Since Chicago is a hub of finance, the most popular bachelor's degrees include business, finance, and accounting. However, engineering is also strong in Illinois, as are health sciences.

Top Majors in Illinois

How Much Can You Make by Having a Degree in Illinois


Cost of Illinois College Education & Salaries

An Illinois bachelor's degree is not a cheap proposition. Those four or more years of study often mean that you aren't able to work full-time and that you graduate with a large amount of debt. That might seem daunting. However, consider that there are ways to ameliorate your tuition and other expenses.

One way to offset college expenses is by starting out at a community college. You can complete your core curriculum at a two-year school and then save the more expensive courses for when you move up to a four-year institution. It's also important to remain in-state for public education. When you travel out-of-state for your bachelor's degree you are likely to be charged two or even three times the in-state tuition. For the same money you could pay for a private school education.

Yet another tactic to employ when reducing the cost of your Illinois bachelor's degree is applying for scholarships. Many students overlook this possibility, or erroneously assume that scholarships aren't for them. Thus, lots of money is left lying on the table every year. Plus, consider the prestige that comes with a scholarship. Even if an award barely dents the bill for your books and materials, you will enter the job market with an award on your resume that someone else didn't feel was worth their time.

Finally, take a look at how much more you stand to earn with a bachelor's degree than without. Your job satisfaction level may be higher as well. You could perhaps find happiness installing electrical devices in residences, but it would probably be far more gratifying to install a communications infrastructure as an Electrical Engineer. That sort of satisfaction is priceless.

College Cost Analysis - Illinois vs National

Average Illinois Tuition & Fees at 4 Year Public Schools

In-State Tuition - $13,900

National – $10,000

Out-of-State – $24,600

National – $25,600

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid

Illinois is among the top five states with the most financial aid. In Illinois, 62% of all FAFSA applicants receive aid for their bachelor's (or other) degrees. Of those that receive aid, 276,800 qualify for grants which need not be repaid. Meanwhile, 353,500 students take out loans at a rate of $12,600 per student. However, keep in mind that Illinois is a highly populated state that places a high value on education.

Financial AidIllinoisNationally
Received Federal Grants36%37.7%
Average $ per Recipient$11,426$10,927

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.
* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Illinois College Tuition Costs Vs Salary Potential

Helping You Maximize Your Education Earnings

Illinois CollegesTuition & Fees In StateTuition & Fees Out Of stateBooks & SuppliesRoom & Board CampusRoom & Board Off CampusGraduation RateGrads Median Salary
Illinois Institute of Technology$45,864$45,864$1,250$13,007$10,80072%$69,100
Northwestern University$52,678$52,678$1,660$16,047$16,04793%$69,000
University of Chicago$56,034$56,034$1,800$15,726n/a93%$68,100
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign$15,074$31,194$1,200$11,308n/a85%$61,500
University of Illinois at Chicago$13,704$26,560$1,400$11,930$10,90059%$54,300
Loyola University Chicago$43,078$43,078$1,200$14,080$11,50074%$54,100
Bradley University$32,930$32,930$1,200$10,310$10,31074%$53,600
DePaul University$39,010$39,010$1,104$13,797$13,79773%$53,300
Lake Forest College$45,548$45,548$10,052$10,052$10,05271%$50,900
Wheaton College$35,190$35,190$800$9,806$9,80690%$48,400

**Salary after attending is a median salary, your degree and field can affect your median salary.

Best Scholarships for Illinois

Scholarships and grants are a tremendous benefit for a few reasons. Most obviously, they provide much-needed funds to help pay for tuition, books, and even room and board. Secondly, it is an achievement to receive a scholarship or grant and thus will be a happy addition to your resume. So, while you may only receive a few hundred dollars of scholarship money, it may just continue paying dividends in the long-run. Here are a few scholarships for Illinois students:

  • CFNI
  • SMCC
  • QCS
  • JFA
  • SWE


Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
Amount: $500-$10,000
Deadline: February 1
The CFNIL is a philanthropic organization that manages a wide range of scholarships for students in the state. They maintain scholarships that help firefighters, engineers, musicians, architects, and many more. Many of the scholarships are only available for students in Northern Illinois towns and counties such as Rockford, Winnebago County, Boone, Rochelle, Pecatonica, and Hononegah, to name a few. If you are headed to college from Northern Illinois, you should check it out.



The Six Meter Club of Chicago Scholarship
Amount: $500
Deadline: January 31
The American Radio Relay League offers a scholarship to students who hold Amateur Radio licenses in Illinois. The award is $500 and is awarded to students with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better. You can apply no matter what level of undergraduate degree you are seeking.


Chapter 23 - Quad Cities Scholarship
Amount: $1,000-$6,000
Deadline: February 1
If you seek a bachelor's degree in a field related to manufacturing, engineering, manufacturing technology, or integrated manufacturing systems, this award can help with books, fees, or tuition. The first preference is to award the scholarship to an SME Student Chapter member, but students from Iowa or Illinois are welcome to apply.



Jewish Federation Academic Scholarship
Amount: $1,000-$8,000
Deadline: February 1
If you are Jewish and from Chicago, you can apply for this scholarship award. The Federation prefers to disburse funds to students who are studying in a career-oriented field such as engineering, law, fine arts, medicine, or business, among others. When you apply you should have plans to remain in the Chicago area, demonstrate financial need, and show career promise. The application requires an in-person interview in either March or April (ending the 20th.)



The Society for Women Engineers Scholarships
Amount: $1,000-$15,000 (Some are renewable)
Deadline: May 1 (Freshman), February 15 (Sophomores-Graduate Students)
The Society for Women Engineers strives to promote women who seek to enter the field. To apply for one of their many scholarships, you should be in your final year of high school or a college student, enrolled or accepted to an ABET-accredited engineering program. To apply, submit two letters of recommendation, and your official academic transcripts.