The Illinois state government offers scholarships and grants for students attending college in the state.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is the state agency that provides financial aid to students attending college in Illinois. ISAC offers various programs, including grants, scholarships, and low-interest loans. These financial awards are based on need and merit, and can help cover the cost of tuition, room and board, books, and other expenses related to attending college.

To be eligible for these scholarships and grants, students must meet certain criteria set by the state government (e.g., being a resident of Illinois) and applications are typically due in early spring. Additionally, to be eligible for these kinds of scholarship programs, all applicants must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a first step.  Before applying, make sure you read full eligibility requirements to understand the key features of a scholarship. If you have further questions after reading the eligibility criteria, students can contact their financial aid office or the Illinois State Scholarship Commission.

Below, we offer links to grants and scholarships for Illinois residents.

Illinois Scholarship Programs

Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program

The MTI prize is for students who plan to teach at a nonprofit Illinois public, private, or parochial preschool, elementary school, or secondary school, for which the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has determined that no less than 30 percent of the enrolled students are African American/Black, Hispanic American, Asian American, or Native American. Or, for those who are of African American/Black, Hispanic American, Asian American or Native American origin or are a qualified bilingual minority applicant.

Eligible applicants may qualify for up to $7,500 per year as part of the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program.

Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) Program

The SETTW opportunity is open to students pursuing a career in special education. You may be eligible for the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver Program if you teach at one of the following Illinois schools that has been approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE):

  • a nonprofit public, private or parochial preschool, or
  • a nonprofit public, private or parochial elementary school, or
  • a nonprofit public, private or parochial secondary school.

This program will exempt you from paying tuition and mandatory fees at an eligible institution for up to four calendar years, provided you have not yet obtained an initial licensure in any area of special education.

Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program 

The ECACE prize is for students who work or have worked in early childhood education. Awards are available for undergraduate study at public and non-profit private 2- and 4-year Gateways-entitled and Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity member institutions. For students attending community colleges and public universities, the scholarship will cover the applicant’s total cost of attendance for an academic year (including summer) after other financial aid is received. 

Post-Master School Social Work Scholarship Program

The Post-Master of Social Work School Social Work Professional Educator License Scholarship Program provides scholarship assistance to licensed social workers with master’s degrees in social work who wish to obtain an Illinois Professional Educator License with an Endorsement on School Social Work. The program was designed to encourage graduate students to work as social workers in Illinois schools and to provide minority children with access to a greater number of positive minority role models, more reflective of the diversity of Illinois students. Each scholarship pays tuition and mandatory fee costs for an academic year (including summer) at Illinois public universities.

Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois

The Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program encourages academically talented Illinois students, especially minority students, to pursue teaching careers, especially at high-need, hard-to-staff schools by providing tuition assistance (tuition, fees and room and board or commuter allowance) at one of the participating Illinois colleges. Students may qualify for up to $2,500 as a freshman or sophomore, and up to $5,000 as a junior or senior.

MIA/POW Scholarship

If you are the dependent of a person who was an Illinois resident at the time of entering active duty and who was declared to be a prisoner of war, missing in action, or dead as a result of a service-connected disability, or disabled with a 100 percent disability as the result of a service-connected cause as recognized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Department of Defense, you may be eligible to receive the MIA/POW Scholarship. This scholarship may be used at public college or university in Illinois, and is administered by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA).

Nursing Education Scholarship Program

If you are pursuing a certificate in practical nursing, an associates degree in nursing, a hospital-based diploma in nursing or a bachelor’s or graduate degree in nursing and demonstrate the greatest financial need among qualified students, you may be qualified to win the Nursing Education Scholarship. This scholarship provides financial aid anywhere from one to four years.

Illinois Grant Programs

Monetary Award Program (MAP)

MAP grants, which do not need to be repaid, are available to eligible Illinois residents based on financial need. Students must be enrolled at an approved Illinois college or university.  MAP grants are not limited to traditional college-aged students. If all eligibility requirements are met, adult and non-traditional students (older than recent high school graduates) may also qualify. MAP grants can be applied only toward tuition and mandatory fees.

Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant Program

If you are a member of the Illinois National Guard, you may be eligible to receive the Illinois National Guard (ING) Grant. This grant can pay for eligible tuition and certain fees (i.e., registration, graduation, general activity, matriculation and term fees) for undergraduate or graduate study. Benefits are limited to use only at Illinois 2- or 4-year public colleges.

Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program

If you have served at least one year of federal active duty service in the Armed Forces of the United States; or served on federal active duty service in a foreign country during a time of hostilities in that country and were honorably discharged after each period of federal active duty service; and/or are honorably serving you may be eligible for the Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG) Program.

This program pays eligible tuition and mandatory fees.

Grant Program for Dependents of Correctional Officers

If you are the spouse or child of an Illinois police or fire officer who was killed or became at least 90 percent disabled in the line of duty, you may be eligible for the Grant Program for Dependents of Police or Fire Officers. This grant provides assistance toward college tuition and mandatory fees* for undergraduate or graduate study at an ISAC-approved Illinois college.

Grant Program for Exonerees

If the Governor of the State of Illinois has issued you a pardon on the grounds of innocence of the crime for which you had been imprisoned, or you have received a certificate of innocence from a circuit court, you may be eligible to receive funds from the Grant Program for Exonerees. This grant provides assistance toward tuition and mandatory fees for no more than two semesters per regular school year (the grant is not available for summer terms) for undergraduate or graduate study at Illinois public colleges and community colleges.

AIM HIGH Grant Pilot Program

If you are attending one of Illinois’ 12 public four-year institutions and meet the program eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to receive an award through the Aspirational Institutional Match Helping Illinois Grow Higher Education (AIM HIGH) Grant Pilot Program

This grant provides assistance toward a full-time undergraduate student’s cost of attendance at the university. Each university’s AIM HIGH grant program is described in detail on the university’s website.

Other Resources to Find College Scholarships and Grants

Check in with your guidance counselor, financial aid office, or the internet to find college scholarships and grants. You can also search for scholarships on the free BridgesEDU Scholarship Finder.

There’s a lot of scholarship money available, so go out and get it! Scholarships can help pay for college, so be sure to apply for as many as you can. There’s sure to be one that’s a perfect fit for you. Start researching and applying today!