Public colleges in Illinois can provide you with a great education at an affordable price. Some of the most popular schools include ISU and UIC.
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With many excellent public colleges in Illinois to choose from, it’s important to find the one that aligns with your education and career goals. Consider enrollment, price, and acceptance rate when comparing schools. And research whether the public universities in Illinois on your shortlist award financial aid.
Start your search in the state’s largest city by exploring public colleges in Chicago. Moody’s Analytics reports that Chicago’s economy recovered faster from the COVID-19 pandemic than comparable Midwest cities.
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Popular Public Colleges in Illinois
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $14,544
- Acceptance Rate: 45%
- Total Student Enrollment: 56,607
U of I boasts the most racially diverse campus of all Midwest universities. It also offers dozens of culturally based fraternities. You can even select from more than 300 study abroad programs. The university also features fully online undergraduate and graduate degrees, and online continuing education programs help working professionals advance their careers.
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $10,384
- Acceptance Rate: 79%
- Total Student Enrollment: 34,199
Students attending UIC benefit from living in the heart of Illinois’ cultural and economic activity. The university features affordable in-state tuition and a high acceptance rate. You can also select from over 250 undergraduate and graduate programs.
UIC awards online degrees and certificates in sixteen areas, including education, public health, and the liberal arts.
- Avg. Undergraduate Tuition & Fees: $21,551
- Acceptance Rate: 86%
- Total Student Enrollment: 20,233
Public universities in Illinois can trace their lineage to ISU, the state’s first public institute of higher education. The high acceptance rate makes ISU an appealing option if you hold a GED diploma or want to transfer undergraduate credit. Although somewhat pricier than comparable public colleges in Illinois, about 80% of learners receive financial aid.
Online students can select from certificates, undergraduate degrees, and graduate degrees.
List of All Colleges in Illinois
We’ve created a complete list of all public four-year nonprofit universities in Illinois. You can use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.
The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
|School||Total Student Enrollment||Avg. Annual Net Price||Acceptance Rate||Number of Applicants|
|Chicago State University||2,366||$6,446||49%||7,404|
|Eastern Illinois University||8,608||$13,380||68%||11,584|
|Governors State University||4,395||$9,833||57%||1,865|
|Illinois State University||20,233||$20,551||86%||19,596|
|Northeastern Illinois University||6,440||$14,262||63%||4,603|
|Northern Illinois University||16,234||$13,884||71%||25,961|
|Southern Illinois University at Carbondale||11,266||$16,990||91%||9,771|
|Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville||13,010||$13,586||98%||9,325|
|University of Illinois Chicago||34,199||$10,384||79%||23,562|
|University of Illinois Springfield||3,944||$11,733||82%||3,634|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||56,607||$14,544||45%||63,257|
|Western Illinois University||7,455||$11,213||75%||9,219|
What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs in Illinois?
Public universities in Illinois can prepare you for a career in one of the state’s highest-paying jobs. Please note that recent graduates often earn less than seasoned professionals. Other factors that impact salary include geographic location and employer.
The table below reflects the latest salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The 10 jobs listed below earn the highest salaries in Illinois.
|Job||Annual Mean Wage (2022)|
|Emergency medicine physicians||$333,280|
What Is the Cost of Public College in Illinois?
The NCES reports that public colleges in Illinois awarding four-year degrees charge out-of-state students only slightly more than their in-state peers. A wider tuition gap exists at the state’s public two-year schools.
Keep in mind that your cost of attendance (COA) includes more than tuition and fees, as you may need to purchase a meal plan or on-campus housing. Factor in transportation costs if you commute to campus.
|Institution Type||Average Tuition & Required Fees|
|Public 4-year (in-state)||$14,579|
|Public 4-year (out-of-state)||$28,660|
|Public 2-year (in-state)||$4,180|
|Public 2-year (out-of-state)||$11,166|
Scholarships for Illinois Students
- Corporate Relocation Council Scholarship: Graduating seniors who relocated to the Chicago area during their high school education may qualify. Other application requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA.
- Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois: Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois considers applicants with a high school or GED diploma. High school applicants need at least a 2.5 GPA. The scholarship renews as long as you maintain good grades in college.
- Wentcher Foundation Scholarship: The Wentcher Foundation Scholarship awards funding to Chicago Public School seniors with good grades and financial need. You must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply.
Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Illinois
How many public colleges are in Illinois?
Illinois features 12 state universities and many other public two- and four-year colleges. With schools throughout the state, you may not need to relocate to earn a certificate or degree. These colleges and universities may also offer fully online education, eliminating your need to commute and possibly saving you money.
What is the No. 1 public college in Illinois?
Educating nearly 55,000 students, UIC ranks first in Illinois for enrollment. The university caters to learners with over 150 majors and 1,000 organizations and student clubs. Small class sizes make UIC an appealing choice if you want a personalized educational experience.
Is it expensive to go to college in Illinois?
Public universities in Illinois charge state residents the most affordable tuition rate. For example, at UIC, Illinoisans save about 50% on tuition compared to their out-of-state peers. However, even out-of-state degree-seekers may qualify for institutional aid, significantly reducing their COA.
What are the benefits of going to college in Illinois?
Public colleges in Illinois offer benefits such as small class sizes, affordable tuition, and positive graduate outcomes. Tenured professors teach undergraduate classes, and you can select from hundreds of extracurricular activities. You can learn more about whether these benefits meet your needs by contacting universities’ admissions departments.