Illinois Student Loans

student-on-scholarshipIn 2009, the Census Bureau considered Illinois to be a microcosm of the United States. The fifth largest state, with the third most populous city in the country (Chicago), Illinois is known for its agriculture, industry, natural resources, and for housing some of the most popular schools in America. As a cross-section of the entire nation, Illinois sees many thousands of students sending applications to its higher education schools every year. We have a breakdown of what those schools are, and what you need to know about Illinois grants, scholarships, and student loans.

Colleges and Universities in Chicago

If you’re looking for a school that specializes in research, Northwestern University in Evanston (north of downtown Chicago) has got you covered. In 2012-2013, Northwestern was awarded more than $500 million in sponsored research grants, and the school has one of the largest university endowments in the United States (worth $7.9 billion). The Chronicle of Higher Education rated Northwestern’s programs of journalism, management, engineering, and communication as among the “most academically productive” in America. The school counts former U.S. senators, Nobel Prize winners, United Nations ambassadors, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Supreme Court justices among its notable alumni.

Located in Chicago, the University of Chicago placed at number 5 on US News & World Report’s rankings of national universities. Reporting on a study done by Parchment, a company that specializes in transferring student records from high schools to colleges, TIME magazine put the University of Chicago on its list of “The Top 10 Colleges Students Really Want to Attend.” Its alumni include 89 Nobel Laureates (and 10 of them are faculty members), 49 Rhodes Scholars, astronomer Carl Sagan, Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King, author Kurt Vonnegut, and Oracle Corporation CEO and founder Larry Ellison.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system, and it is the second oldest public university in the state. South of Chicago in the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign, US News & World Report put it at number 41 on their list of the top universities in America for its outstanding engineering and science programs. Its on-campus library is the second largest university library in America and the fifth largest library in the country. The Center for Measuring University Performance listed the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as one the “Top 25 American Research Universities.”

Other colleges and universities of interest in Illinois include:

Financial Aid in Illinois

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission sponsors a number of scholarships to reward exceptional academic achievement, or to give needy students the financial boost they need to go to school in Illinois. All scholarships and prizes issued through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission are eligible only for residents of the state (people who have been residing in Illinois for the preceding 12 months before they file their application). Others stipulate that the student remains in the state of Illinois, and in the target field of study of the scholarship, at the risk of having to pay the scholarship money back.One such program is the Nursing Education Scholarship Program, which is open to students pursuing a nursing degree. Additionally, students must demonstrate a level of financial need in order to be considered for the scholarship. Forty percent of scholarship awards are given to baccalaureate students in nursing programs. Awards cover between $5,000 to $6,000 at public colleges or universities. There are a number of scholarships available for students planning on entering the education field. The Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver Program is targeted at budding special education teachers, waiving their tuition and mandatory fees at eligible colleges and universities. The program requires its beneficiaries to remain in Illinois as a teacher in the field of special education. If this condition is voided, the waiver converts to a loan, which has to be repaid in its entirety, plus interest. Another education-based financial aid program is the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program. It is intended for students who want to teach preschool, elementary or secondary school, and who are of an ethnic minority heritage. Qualifying students may receive $5,000 per year, for eight semesters or 12 quarters. Scholarship winners have to teach in the specified category of schools, in Illinois, or, like the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver Program, the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship will be converted to a loan that has to be paid back in full, with interest. Outside of the field of education, other scholarships include:

  • The Illinois CPA Society Accounting Scholarship Program requires applicants to take the CPA Examination in Illinois within three years of applying for the scholarship and enroll in a relevant field of study.
  • The MGMA Midwest Section Scholarship is sponsored by the Medical Group Management Association and open to students in the Midwest who enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program related to medical practice management, such as public health or health care administration. The scholarship is not intended for students pursuing a purely medical degree. Award amounts start at $1,000 and cap at $5,000.

Student Loans in Illinois

Students going to school in Illinois have the option of using federal or alternative (private) loans. Unlike the scholarships and grants mentioned above, loans have to be paid back to their provider over a period of time, with interest.

Federal loans are provided under familiar names like GradPLUS Loans, Direct Subsidized Loans, Parent PLUS Loans, and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, among others.

Private loans in Illinois are offered by some of the biggest and most reputable names in the student loan industry.

Some schools, like Illinois College (a private, liberal arts college in Jacksonville) uses a number of lenders that provide students with the funds they need to afford the college’s $28,660 full-time tuition. Some of them, like PNC, Sallie Mae, Discover, Wells Fargo, and iHelp, operate nationally. Others, like the DHCU Community Credit Union, offer a smaller and more personalized interface that some students and their families may find more welcoming than those of larger banks and corporations.

A local private student loan option is the IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, located in Moline, Illinois. It allows borrowers to defer making any payments until after they have graduated and landed a job, and it is open to all members of the credit union who are in undergraduate or graduate programs at public or private schools that grant degrees. The undergraduate borrowing cap is $75,000, and the graduate borrowing cap is $100,000.

Tuition in Illinois

Ways to Fund College

If you are a resident of one of the states in the Midwest region – Kansas, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota or Wisconsin – and want to apply to a school in Illinois, you may qualify for a tuition break. As part of the Midwest Student Exchange Program (an “academic common market”), public institutions in regional neighboring states will charge you no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate (and private schools will charge you 10% less than their standard tuition). This applies only to specific academic programs – most academic common markets require you to choose a major program that is not offered in your home state in order for you to qualify for the benefits of the regional arrangement. If the program you are applying for is offered by a college or university in your state of residence, you may be denied any residency-based tuition waivers.

The University of Chicago’s fees are $47,139. The university promises that its “average” applicants receive $37,500 per year in financial aid. It also offers its own range of scholarships, such as the Odyssey Scholarship, which replaces the total amount of the federal loans of students with family incomes of less than $75,000. Other university-sponsored scholarships cover various merit-based academic achievements, such as the National Merit Finalists and the UChicago Charter School Scholarship.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, tuition can reach $35,154 for Illinois residents, and balloons as high as $49,780 for out-of-state students. Qualifying for merit-based scholarships is as easy as filling out an application for admission; students are automatically considered by the relevant colleges and departments of their program just by applying to Urbana-Champaign.

Northwestern University charges its students a flat fee of $65,554, regardless of their Illinois residency status. Students with an Expected Family Contribution that is less than Northwestern’s cost of attendance are eligible for need-based financial aid to compensate for the difference. The university’s scholarships are allocated based on family income and demonstrated need. Fifty percent of Northwestern’s students are awarded a scholarship. Students at Northwestern can also work to ease their financial burden, through over 2,000 jobs offered by the school’s Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid.