Top Scholarships for Illinois Students to Apply in May 2024

Illinois is home to many students seeking higher education opportunities. With prestigious institutions and more accessible options, Illinois offers diverse choices for college students. However, rising college costs make it difficult for low- and middle-income students to afford their education. As a result, many rely on student loans, which can be challenging to pay off. Scholarships provide a crucial alternative, helping students avoid debt while pursuing their academic goals. In this article, we’ll explore ten scholarships available to Illinois students and provide additional information on how to secure financial aid.

Top 10 Scholarships for Illinois Students

Here are ten scholarships specifically designed to support Illinois students in their pursuit of higher education. These scholarships offer financial assistance based on various criteria, including academic achievement, financial need, community involvement, and specific career goals. By exploring and applying for these opportunities, you can find the support you need to make your educational dreams a reality.

Illinois Students and Student Debt

Colleges in Illinois

Illinois colleges have an average acceptance rate of 58.01%. Prestigious institutions like the University of Chicago (7.31% acceptance rate) and Northwestern University (9% acceptance rate) offer competitive programs. Larger, less selective schools include the University of Illinois-Chicago, while smaller colleges like Eureka College provide more intimate learning environments. The graduation rate for Illinois students is 65.18%, with women graduating at a higher rate (67.39%) than men (62.55%).

Illinois College Demographics

Illinois colleges have 693,740 students, with 411,509 female and 282,231 male students. Of these, 536,769 are undergraduates, and 156,971 are graduates. Online education is popular, with 350,917 students taking fully online classes and 149,814 taking some online courses. Only 193,009 students take fully in-person classes. The student population includes 340,594 white students, 133,274 Hispanic students, 83,378 Black students, 51,153 Asian students, and 20,402 mixed-race students.

College Costs in Illinois

The average cost of living for on-campus students is $14,306, while off-campus students pay $13,680. In-state tuition averages $5,475, with graduate tuition at $12,394. Out-of-state students pay an average of $40,868 on-campus and $40,242 off-campus, with undergraduate tuition at $21,070 and graduate tuition at $19,921. Despite 66.72% of undergraduates receiving financial aid, the average aid amount is $8,578, leaving significant remaining costs.

Student Debt in Illinois

With 57% of Illinois graduates having student debt and 10% holding private student loans, the average student debt is $28,552. While this is below the national average of $37,693, it still poses a significant financial burden. Scholarships and grants are essential to help students manage educational expenses without accruing excessive debt.

Additional Scholarships That Students in Illinois Should Consider

State-based scholarships like those listed above are excellent starting points, but non-local scholarships open to students nationwide can also be valuable. Scholarships with specific eligibility criteria often have fewer applicants, increasing your chances of winning.

Scholarships for High School Students in Illinois

High school is an ideal time to start applying for scholarships. Winning scholarships early can help reduce future college costs. The following scholarships are great options for high school students:

  • Paige’s Promise Scholarship
  • Robert Wechman Mental Health Scholarship
  • CollegeXpress No-Essay Scholarship

Scholarships for High School Freshmen in Illinois

High school freshmen can begin applying for scholarships to build a strong financial foundation for college:

  • WiseGeek Lifelong Learners No-Essay Grant
  • Haiti Rising Christlike Scholarship
  • Andrew Perez Mental Illness/Suicidal Awareness Education Scholarship

Scholarships for High School Sophomores in Illinois

Sophomore year is a good time to apply for scholarships before the busier junior and senior years:

  • Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
  • Morning Brew Tech & Business News Scholarship
  • Bold Dream Big Scholarship

Scholarships for High School Juniors in Illinois

Junior year offers opportunities for upperclassmen scholarships:

  • Isaac Yunhu Lee Memorial Arts Scholarship
  • Scorenavigator Financial Literacy Scholarship
  • Future of Aviation Scholarship

Scholarships for High School Seniors in Illinois

High school seniors can take advantage of scholarships specifically for their grade level:

  • Graduate Debt-Free Scholarship
  • Eleven Scholarship
  • Melaninwhitecoats Podcast Annual Scholarship
  • JoLynn Blanton Memorial Scholarship

Illinois College Scholarships for Current College Students

Current college students, including freshmen, upperclassmen, and graduate students, can still benefit from scholarships:

  • Tony Alviani Memorial Scholarship
  • Sentant Interdisciplinary Technology Scholarship
  • CollegeXpress Graduate No-Essay Scholarship
  • Hasanovic American Dream Scholarship

Scholarships for Graduate Students in Illinois

Graduate students can find scholarships to help with advanced degrees and debt reduction:

  • @ESPDaniella Debt Grant
  • Military Student Debt Grant
  • Lost Dreams Awaken Scholarship

Scholarships for Moms in Illinois

Parents pursuing education can find scholarships to help manage their responsibilities and financial needs:

  • REVIVAL Scholarship
  • It Takes An Aggie Village Scholarship
  • Saroya Byrd Legacy Scholarship

Scholarships for Single Moms in Illinois

Single moms face unique challenges in pursuing education. These scholarships provide critical support:

  • Janey Mae Memorial Scholarship
  • Law Family Single Parent Scholarship
  • Larry Darnell Green Scholarship

Scholarships for First-Generation College Students in Illinois

First-generation students often need extra support to navigate higher education. These scholarships can help:

  • Minority/Women in STEM Scholarship
  • Diversity in Law Scholarship
  • McCutcheon | Nikitin First-Generation Scholarship
  • Abby’s First-Generation College Student Scholarship

Scholarships for Latino Students in Illinois

Hispanic and Latino students can benefit from scholarships aimed at supporting their educational goals:

  • Charles Cheesman’s Student Debt Reduction Scholarship
  • Hispanic Empowerment No-Essay Scholarship
  • Snap Finance “Funding the Future” Scholarship

Frequently Asked Questions About Scholarships in Illinois

How to Apply for Scholarships in Illinois

Applying for scholarships involves creating a detailed profile, meeting eligibility criteria, and submitting necessary documents. Here are the steps:

  1. Create a Profile: Start by creating a profile on scholarship platforms.
  2. Browse Scholarships: Use filters to find scholarships that match your criteria.
  3. Check Eligibility: Ensure you meet all requirements before applying.
  4. Submit Applications: Follow the prompts to submit essays or other required materials.

When Can I Start Applying?

You can start applying for scholarships as early as high school and continue through college and graduate school. There is no wrong time to seek financial aid.

Do I Need a Certain GPA to Apply?

While some scholarships require a minimum GPA, many do not. Scholarships are available based on various criteria, including financial need, leadership, community service, and specific talents.

Are Scholarships Taxable in Illinois?

Scholarship money applied directly to tuition, fees, and educational expenses is generally not taxable. However, it’s essential to check specific scholarship terms and consult a tax advisor if necessary.


Scholarships provide crucial financial support for Illinois students pursuing higher education. By exploring various scholarships and applying early, you can reduce the burden of college costs and achieve your academic goals. Good luck with your scholarship applications!