Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

ASO Staff Writers
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Updated March 21, 2024
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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.

College Grad Salaries
Degree LevelAverage Tuition
Less than High School$28,756
High School (GED)$37,960
Associate$44,824
Bachelor’s$62,296
Master’s$74,568
Doctoral$94,900

Source: BLS

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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.

Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Public Colleges and Universities
Tuition TypeAverage Tuition
In-State Tuition$13,971
Out-of-State Tuition$28,618
National Avg.$9,037(In-State); $25,657(Out-of-State)
Average Undergraduate Tuition and Fees: Private Colleges and Universities
Tuition TypeAverage Tuition
In-State Tuition$32,491
Out-of-State TuitionN/A
National Avg.$30,731

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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.

  1. 1

    Computer Fees

    Many institutions charge online learners a computer or technology fee. These fees help cover the networks and technology necessary to deliver online classes.

  2. 2

    Residency Fees

    Some schools require distance learners to visit campus for orientation, certain classes, and practicums. Residency requirements can lead to additional transportation costs.

  3. 3

    Voluntary Travel

    Many schools invite distance learners to graduation and other on-campus events, which require transportation and travel costs.

  4. 4

    Exam Proctoring

    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.

  5. 5

    Books and Computers

    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

plusGolden Apple Scholars of Illinois

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

plusMinority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship

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

plusNursing Education Scholarship Program

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.

Amount: Varies

plusMIA/POW Scholarship

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.

Amount: Varies

plusIllinois Special Education Tuition Waiver Program

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.

Amount: Varies

Grants for Illinois College Students

plusIllinois Monetary Award Program

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.

Amount: Varies

plusAIM HIGH Grant

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.

Amount: Varies

plusIllinois Veteran Grant Program

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.

Amount: Varies

plusHigher Education License Plate Grant

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.

plusPell Grants

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 Accreditation

    The 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 Accreditation

    Many 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 Accredited

    Most 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

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity maintains this website, which provides resources for adults who want to further their education and acquire job skills.
This state-run program connects apprentices with tradesmen willing to train them. The initiative provides a pathway for individuals who want to learn a trade, which can lead to increased earning potential.
This career-oriented initiative helps adult learners find employers, educators, and professional organizations. Website visitors can search for opportunities in areas including business, the arts, health science, government, IT, and manufacturing.

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.

The state’s public university system maintains a searchable database of online courses and programs. The website also features admission assistance and frequently asked questions.
This resource from Illinois’ educational administrators connects college students with academic and career opportunities. The website features links, apps, and pages related to postsecondary education in the state.
The ISAC website provides resources for college-bound students. The College Match app helps learners find a program that is right for them. The commission also publishes a Handbook of Illinois Post Secondary Institutions and facilitates one-on-one mentoring opportunities.
Commission maintains this website, which details state funding available to college students. The website provides information about scholarships, grants, and work-study programs.

Best Online Colleges in Illinois

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.

#1 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Moody Bible Institute

  • Location-markerChicago, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,200
  • Out-of-state$11,200
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate94%
  • Students Enrolled3,009
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment42%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

University of Illinois at Springfield

  • Location-markerSpringfield, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,520
  • Out-of-state$15,948
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate77%
  • Students Enrolled4,275
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment70%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Location-markerChampaign, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$14,188
  • Out-of-state$33,127
  • Retention Rate93%
  • Acceptance Rate59%
  • Students Enrolled51,605
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment39%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Elmhurst College

  • Location-markerElmhurst, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$37,454
  • Out-of-state$37,454
  • Retention Rate82%
  • Acceptance Rate68%
  • Students Enrolled3,453
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment20%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Aurora University

  • Location-markerAurora, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$24,800
  • Out-of-state$24,800
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate87%
  • Students Enrolled6,246
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment20%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

University of St. Francis

  • Location-markerJoliet, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$34,000
  • Out-of-state$34,000
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate46%
  • Students Enrolled3,776
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment63%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

DePaul University

  • Location-markerChicago, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$40,551
  • Out-of-state$40,551
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate68%
  • Students Enrolled22,064
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment30%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Lewis University

  • Location-markerRomeoville, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,270
  • Out-of-state$33,270
  • Retention Rate84%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled6,359
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Western Illinois University

  • Location-markerMacomb, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,627
  • Out-of-state$8,627
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate57%
  • Students Enrolled7,624
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment48%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Olivet Nazarene University

  • Location-markerBourbonnais, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$36,080
  • Out-of-state$36,080
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate58%
  • Students Enrolled4,317
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment58%
  • AccreditationYes
#11 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Concordia University-Chicago

  • Location-markerRiver Forest, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$31,926
  • Out-of-state$31,926
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate75%
  • Students Enrolled6,205
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment68%
  • AccreditationYes
#12 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Eastern Illinois University

  • Location-markerCharleston, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,875
  • Out-of-state$11,045
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate53%
  • Students Enrolled7,806
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment34%
  • AccreditationYes
#13 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Lincoln Christian University

  • Location-markerLincoln, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$13,590
  • Out-of-state$13,590
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled672
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
#14 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Location-markerChicago, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$47,299
  • Out-of-state$47,299
  • Retention Rate88%
  • Acceptance Rate60%
  • Students Enrolled6,515
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment16%
  • AccreditationYes
#15 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

  • Location-markerEdwardsville, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$8,345
  • Out-of-state$8,345
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate86%
  • Students Enrolled13,061
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment25%
  • AccreditationYes
#16 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Dominican University

  • Location-markerRiver Forest, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$33,950
  • Out-of-state$33,950
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate64%
  • Students Enrolled3,029
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment54%
  • AccreditationYes
#17 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Bradley University

  • Location-markerPeoria, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$34,200
  • Out-of-state$34,200
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate70%
  • Students Enrolled5,929
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment31%
  • AccreditationYes
#18 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Greenville University

  • Location-markerGreenville, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$27,580
  • Out-of-state$27,580
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate56%
  • Students Enrolled1,092
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment50%
  • AccreditationYes
#19 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

Loyola University Chicago

  • Location-markerChicago, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$44,105
  • Out-of-state$44,105
  • Retention Rate85%
  • Acceptance Rate67%
  • Students Enrolled17,159
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment15%
  • AccreditationYes
#20 Online Schools and Colleges in Illinois

McKendree University

  • Location-markerLebanon, IL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$30,540
  • Out-of-state$30,540
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate63%
  • Students Enrolled2,292
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment47%
  • AccreditationYes

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