Accredited Degree Programs, Scholarships and Resources for Top Schools
Universities and colleges in Illinois are committed to transforming online education. In 2010, the state adopted the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success, a 10-year plan to make higher education more accessible and affordable. As part of this effort, schools are investing in quality online programs. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 10 percent of students in Illinois, or roughly 90,000 people, were enrolled in fully online programs in 2012 alone. If you’re considering earning an online degree in Illinois, this page can help you navigate the growing online college landscape in Illinois, with advice on everything from paying for school to using transfer credits.
How Can I Find Which Online Colleges Offer the Degree I'm Looking for in Illinois?
How Much More Do College Grads in Illinois Make?
In Illinois and throughout the country, higher education levels tend to lead to higher salaries. According to a report by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, in 2016 professionals with a two-year degree made about 20% more than those with only a high school diploma. Bachelor's degree-holders earned nearly twice as much as professionals with a high school education. The table below illustrates that higher education consistently leads to increased earning potential.
|Degree Level||Average Tuition|
|Less than High School||$28,756|
|High School (GED)||$$37,960|
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Paying for Online College in Illinois: Tuition and Financial Aid
Illinois' college costs rank among the most expensive in the nation. The average out-of-state tuition rate for students in Illinois is more than $3,000 higher than the national average of $25,657. Most learners need assistance, such as financial aid and scholarships, to fund their education. Additionally, many students choose online schools and colleges in Illinois, which tend to be more affordable than on-campus options.
|Tuition Type||Average Tuition|
|National Avg.||$9,037(In-State); $25,657(Out-of-State)|
|Tuition Type||Average Tuition|
Cost Considerations for Online Students in Illinois
The tables above do not include expenses or certain fees. These costs can significantly impact the overall cost of earning a degree. While online students often save money on housing and transportation costs, some schools charge additional fees for distance learners.
Many institutions charge online learners a computer or technology fee. These fees help cover the networks and technology necessary to deliver online classes.
Some schools require distance learners to visit campus for orientation, certain classes, and practicums. Residency requirements can lead to additional transportation costs.
Many schools invite distance learners to graduation and other on-campus events, which require transportation and travel costs.
Learners attending online schools and colleges in Illinois must often take exams in the presence of an impartial overseer. These proctoring services typically require a nominal fee.
Online learners need a computer that is capable of running the necessary software. Students also need to purchase physical or digital textbooks and course materials for each class.
Qualifying for In-State Tuition in Illinois
According to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, learners must physically reside in Illinois for at least one year prior to their first semester to qualify for in-state tuition rates. Students must also declare Illinois as their state of permanent residence.
Military members and foreign missionary students sent out of state or overseas to carry out their duties are an exception to this rule. Additionally, some universities offer in-state tuition rates to all online learners, regardless of residency.
Paying for College in Illinois: Scholarships and Financial Aid
Many students apply for grants and scholarships to help fund their education. These types of funding are ideal, since they do not require repayment. The grant and scholarship programs below are open to learners attending online schools and colleges in Illinois.
Scholarships for Illinois College Students
Who Can Apply: These awards help academically gifted residents of Illinois, particularly minority students, become educators. Recipients must agree to teach in Illinois for at least five years after graduation.
Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports aspiring teachers planning to work in districts that serve a large percentage of minority students. If recipients do not fulfill the agreed-upon terms, the scholarship converts to a loan.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Who Can Apply: This state-funded program is designed to help offset the nursing shortage. Recipients of this need-based award agree to study nursing and work in the state upon graduation.
Who Can Apply: Administered by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, this scholarship supports learners at public universities. Applicants must have a parent who was an active-duty service member who went missing in action, was a prisoner of war, or was disabled in the line of duty.
Who Can Apply: This program waives tuition costs for learners studying special education. Recipients must agree to work in Illinois for a certain amount of time after graduation.
Grants for Illinois College Students
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be attending a public university in Illinois and must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students must take at least three credits per semester.
Who Can Apply: Illinois residents attending approved schools in the state can apply for this need-based grant. Applicants must be enrolled full time and must not already hold a bachelor's degree.
Who Can Apply: This grant program supports students who served at least one year or currently serve in one of the branches of the American military. Recipients must attend a public school in Illinois.
Who Can Apply: This need-based grant is available to Illinois residents who attend a public university in the collegiate license plate program. Recipients must enroll at a participating school and fill out the FAFSA form.
Who Can Apply: Federal Pell Grants help undergraduate students nationwide pay for college. Students must submit the FAFSA form to apply.
Amount: Up to $6,195
The Importance of Accreditation for Online Colleges and Universities in Illinois
Learners choosing from online colleges and schools in Illinois should ensure that each prospective institution holds accreditation. The Higher Learning Commission delivers regional accreditation to Illinois schools. Regional accreditation demonstrates that the institution meets set academic and professional standards and that employers and graduate schools will recognize your degree.
Regional and National AccreditationThe two main types of institutional accreditation in the U.S. are regional and national. Regional is the oldest and most prestigious form of institutional accreditation. Illinois schools receive regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. National accreditation typically applies to technical and trade schools that deliver programs geared toward a particular industry. Regionally accredited schools rarely accept credits or degrees earned from nationally accredited institutions.
Subject-Specific AccreditationMany industries feature specialized accrediting agencies, which evaluate programs and departments. For example, business programs may carry accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and teaching programs often hold accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Attending an accredited program ensures that you receive industry-specific training to prepare for positions in the field.
How to Know if Your School or Program is AccreditedMost accredited schools and programs feature their accreditation status on their website. Ensure that the school or program holds accreditation from an agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for HIgher Education Accreditation. Both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation maintain accreditation databases of recognized agencies and accredited schools.
Online College and Adult Education in Illinois
Many states sponsor initiatives to support online and adult education. In 2018, Illinois launched an online-education initiative. The five-year Illinois Adult Education Strategic Plan is designed to improve access to education for adult learners in the state. The following sections include resources for adult learners in Illinois.
By the Numbers: Adult Education in Illinois
Illinois' adult education program served more than 64,000 learners between 2016 and 2017.
More than 40% of participants in Illinois' adult education program achieved measurable academic gains.
In 2008, over 40% of Illinois' adult learners pursued their education through a community college.
Adult Education Programs for Illinois Students
Online College Resources for Illinois Students
Online students in Illinois can benefit from online resources and professional organizations. The resources below can help learners research schools and programs, locate funding sources, attain career goals, and arrange mentorships.
Best Online Colleges in Illinois 2020
In 2008, the state's department of education implemented the Illinois Public Agenda for College and Career Success, an initiative to promote higher education and career readiness. Today's students reap the benefits of the program's success. According to Digital Learning Compass, the number of Illinois students taking at least one online course increased 31% from 2012 to 2015, almost three times the national average of 11%.
Nearly 200,000 students in the Prairie State take some online courses. Dozens of schools in Illinois offer online programs, including some of the top colleges in the nation. This comprehensive guide can help you navigate the state's growing online education options. The information below can help you explore the best schools, find scholarships and grants, learn how to transfer credits, and locate resources for learners attending online schools and colleges in Illinois.