Illinois State Grants For School, College and University

Grants can be a valuable resource when it comes to easing the financial burden of obtaining a college education. Grants, unlike student loans and some other forms of financial aid, do not have to be repaid. The main requirement of most grants is financial need. However, grant awards are not exclusively based on your family’s income.

Grants for education generally fall into two categories: grants based on need and grants based on merit. The funds are applied to school expenses such as tuition, books, housing and other education-related expenses. Illinois state grants come from several sources and have varying requirements. Some grants are only specific to state supported universities and colleges. These include:

• Northern Illinois University
• Western Illinois University
• Chicago State University
• University of Illinois
• Illinois State University
• Governors State University
• Eastern Illinois University
• Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
• Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
• Northeastern Illinois University

Federal Pell Grant Program

College students in every state may be eligible for the Pell Grant*. These grants are targeted at students with the most pressing financial need and are usually combined with work study programs and other loans to cover additional expenses. Basic criteria for this grant includes:

• Financial need beyond a student’s expected family contribution
• Academic status
• Academic expenses related to attending a particular school
• Consistent enrollment

*The average award amount for the Pell grant is around $5,000, with the exact amount varying per year.

Applying for the Pell grant starts by filling in a FAFSA form, or a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. More details on where to find the form can be found hereillinois state grants for school and college

Specialized Grants in Illinois

The state of Illinois, like many other states, offers school grants to fill specific vocational needs and shortages. This includes nursing and education. Some of these grants require a student to work in a specific field following graduation for a certain amount of time to qualify for the grant. Specialized grants, by nature, tend to have very specific requirements.

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Minority Grants In Illiois

Gilbert Rios Memorial Award – Awards $5,000 to one male and female Latino student per school year for undergraduate students.

Koniag Education Career Development Grant – Awards two grants per school year to an Alaska native, but still accepted at all eligible institutions in Illinois. The amount varies.

National Leadership Development Grants – Awards up to $5,000 annually to qualifying minority members of the United Methodist Church.

Osage Higher Education Grant – Awards up to $1,200 three times per school year to qualified undergraduate and graduate students of Osage Indian descent.

Sons of Italy National Leadership Grants Competition General Scholarships – Awards from $4,000 to $25,000 for up to 13 students per school year of Italian descent.

Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students majoring in education may qualify for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program. This scholarship provides up to $5,000 per academic year. Requirements include maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA with the agreement to work in the teaching field in Illinois for a specific amount of time following graduation.

Illinois Education Related Grants

• The Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver – Tuition is covered for a student attending any state college or university agreeing to teach in the state of Illinois for a specific amount of time following graduation. The student must be majoring in the special education field.

Illinois Future Teachers Corps Program – Awards up to $10,000 per academic year to Illinois teaching students attending state colleges or universities in Illinois. Students must demonstrate financial need and the ability to excel on an academic level. Students must be willing to work in a specific area of need – math and science, for example – for a specific amount of time following graduation in the state of Illinois.

Golden Apple Scholars Program – This program is directed towards perspective inner-city teachers. The program specifically focuses on bright students looking to teach within the Chicago school system. High school students are given preference for this program. Awards include full tuition to any state college. Recipients of this award are required to work in the teaching profession in Illinois for at least five years following graduation.

Additional education-related grants information is available from the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Illinois Nursing/Medical Grants

• Competitive Grant for Nursing Schools – This initiative, administered by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, is designed to increase the number of qualified nurses graduating from Illinois nursing programs. These grants focus on increasing the number or nurses working in Illinois, retaining nurses for the duration of the program and creating evening and weekend programs along with tutoring for the national licensing exam for nurses and any state licensing requirements.

Those pursing a nursing degree in Illinois may be eligible for grants from the following organizations if specific requirements are met:

• American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
• American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
• American Association of Critical Care Nurses*
• Emergency Nurses Foundation Association
• Gerontological Society of America

*Minority nursing students may receive additional quarterly scholarships in addition to a grant.

Nurse Educator Scholarship Program – This program is designed to offset tuition imbalances by offering up to $10,000 plus expenses for students enrolled in a nursing program in a state university or college. Recipients are required to work as nurse educators in Illinois for a certain period of time following graduation.

General Grants

Each member of the Illinois General Assembly may nominate two students for a scholarship awarded from this government body. Each nominee must live in the district of the legislator who nominates them. Additionally, members of the state assembly may serve as a resource for available grants, which vary per school year. Interested students should contact their state senator or state representative for additional information. Most available scholarships and grants to be used at state universities and colleges only.


The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), established in 1957, promotes the importance of obtaining a college education. ISAC is a valuable asset for students seeking higher education in Illinois. ISAC administers all state educational programs, serving as a financial aid source of subsidized grants and specialized scholarships. ISAC offers more than 500 prepaid tuition programs for Illinois students of just about every need level. These tuition programs are designed for families and students who wish to plan ahead by prepaying future education expenses at the current rate. This serves as a protection from tuition increases, averaging about 6-8 percent each year.

Monetary Award Program (MAP) – This program is one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Nearly $400 million per year is awarded to eligible Illinois students each year to cover tuition and related fees for undergraduates in need of assistance.

Applying for School and College Grants In Illinois

Students are encouraged to apply for as many Illinois state grants or other aid such as scholarships as possible. Eligible students may apply for most of these grants online or through their school’s financial aid office. For additional information, contact the Illinois Board of Higher Education or call (217) 782-4321 in Springfield or (312) 814-2220 in Chicago.