Illinois’s online bachelor’s and graduate degree programs are some of the strongest in the country. For instance, U.S. News & World Report ranks University of Illinois Chicago’s online bachelor’s degree program No. 3 in the country and places both Illinois State University and Loyola University Chicago’s online bachelor’s degree programs at No. 19 in the country. At the graduate level, many online programs at institutions in Illinois rank in the top 10 nationally, with University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Online Master’s in Civil Engineering earning the No. 1 spot. The state of Illinois is truly a leader in high-quality online postsecondary education.
The answer to this question depends on which college you attend. Some colleges offer discounted rates for online courses regardless of where you live, while others charge an additional fee for online courses to help cover the cost of software licenses, technical support, etc. In-state and out-of-state online degree students tend to pay the same tuition at Illinois universities; however, this is not the case at Illinois State University. At the community college level, out-of-state students pay more than in-state students.
Illinois has online bachelor’s and graduate degree programs that consistently rank at the top of nationwide comparisons. This tells you that as an online student, you will get a flexible education that does not sacrifice anything in the way of quality. Illinois’s wide range of online degree programs also means it’s more likely you’ll find an affordable option.
The cost of an online degree in Illinois depends on which institution you attend as well as the type of degree you choose to pursue. For example, undergraduate courses are usually more affordable than graduate degrees. Also, you may find yourself paying more for your degree if you major in a STEM field rather than the humanities.
Regardless of the cost per credit, you should also consider that you may be able to save a lot of money on indirect expenses, such as transportation and housing, by earning your college degree online.
To give you a sense of exactly how much you should expect to pay for your online education, we’ve listed the current rates for earning an online bachelor’s degree in Illinois below:
Establishing Illinois residency typically requires you to have resided in Illinois for at least 12 months prior to declaring Illinois residency. You must prove you are in the state for a reason other than education, so you cannot enroll at a college or university more than half-time during the year in which you are establishing Illinois residency.
Illinois offers several ways to reduce your tuition costs. Prior to 2021, the state actively participated in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, which enables online students from the Midwest to pay reduced tuition at other colleges and universities in the Midwest. As of 2021, Illinois is an inactive member of the program, meaning you cannot currently benefit from the tuition reciprocity agreements. However, it is possible Illinois will become active in the program in the future.
Several public universities in Illinois offer generous grants and aid packages. For instance, through the Illinois Commitment, University of Illinois guarantees free tuition to Illinois residents whose families make less than $67,000 per year and have less than $50,000 in assets. Eligibility is determined based on FAFSA application data, so it’s important to file early and accurately. The FAFSA will also show if you are eligible for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), and other financial aid awards.
In addition to university-specific funding, there are a number of other programs available that can help you cover the cost of college. Some of these programs are also based on financial need, while others are awarded based on factors such as demographics or academic merit. We’ve reviewed a few of the most prominent financial aid options for you below:
This scholarship program awards $10,000 per year to successful students from Cook County, Illinois who demonstrate substantial financial need, as determined by the FAFSA.
Who’s eligible? Residents of Cook County, Illinois who demonstrate strong financial need, have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and will attend an accredited four-year institution.
Contact information: Online form | 312-422-0444
Open to students from Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina, this is a holistic scholars program that provides not only funding but also mentorship, support, and cocurricular leadership development to students from low-income communities. The goal is to stop the cycle of poverty and create generational change.
Who’s eligible? Legal residents of Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New York, or North Carolina who have a cumulative, unweighted GPA of 3.5 or above, demonstrate financial need, and possess strong leadership, grit, and commitment to community.
Contact information: [email protected] | 720-449-7444
The CEF awards merit-based grants ranging from $1,200 to $1,500 to students living in Chicago or graduating from a high school in or near Chicago.
Who’s eligible? Students living in Chicago or graduating from a Chicago high school who will major in an engineering field.
Contact information: [email protected]
Geared toward future teachers in Illinois schools in need, this program provides up to $23,000 in tuition assistance and paid training programs, as well as mentoring and real-world classroom experience, to high school seniors and college freshmen and sophomores who want to be teachers.
Who’s eligible? Illinois residents/students at partner institutions in Illinois who intend to become teachers and teach in high-need schools in Illinois.
Contact information: Online form | 312-407-0006
If you’re still in the process of assessing your college options, you may also be undecided on your major. When selecting a major, one of the most important factors to consider is your future employability. Thinking about which industries and careers are growing the fastest in Illinois can make it easier to find a job once you graduate, and being in demand should also help you earn a higher salary.
By consulting the U.S. Department of Labor’s Long-Term Occupational Projections 2018–2028, we’ve determined that the following five careers have some of the highest projected growth rates in Illinois, all of which come with an average annual salary in the six figures:
NPs are advanced practice registered nurses who specialize in diagnosing and treating patients with an emphasis on preventative care and health education. They are quickly becoming many Americans’ preferred primary care professionals. NPs tend to be well-compensated; in Illinois, they earn an average salary of $120,470 per year.
Financial managers tend to the financial health of an organization. Over the next decade, Illinois expects to create nearly 6,000 financial manager jobs, making it one of the highest growth careers in the state. Financial managers in Illinois earn an average salary of $143,300 per year.
Physician assistants (PAs) are one of the most in-demand health professionals. They work under physicians to support patient care, and must complete extensive education and medical training. They are not as highly compensated as physicians, but they still make six-figure salaries. The average annual PA salary in Illinois is $117,480.
As governments, companies, and individuals become ever more reliant on web-based technologies, it’s no surprise the skills of software developers, especially app developers, are in high demand. Salaries in this field tend to be quite high, with software developers earning an average salary of $109,970 per year in Illinois.
Information security analysts monitor and manage an organization’s computer networks and systems. Specifically, information security analysts keep an organization’s data safe. As cybersecurity and information security become increasingly important in our digital world, security analysts are in high demand. They are also well-compensated, making an average annual salary of $112,830 in Illinois.
Our list of best online colleges in Illinois is based on analysis of several pieces of data. We started by reviewing all colleges in Illinois, from very small liberal arts colleges to the largest public universities. We based our list on the cost of tuition, requirements for credits to graduate, and the method of delivery for the coursework.
We ensure all colleges on our list are accredited, meaning they hold up to the high quality standards of an accrediting organization. In Illinois, most of the colleges fall under the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a regional accreditor in the North Central region serving higher learning institutions in 19 states. The organization provides quality assurance in higher education.