2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in Illinois

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it’s not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public institutions also rank highly among the best colleges and universities in many states, Illinois included.

Public colleges and universities receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in Illinois

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Showing 30 schools

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    Avg Tuition per YearTuition is the price you pay to attend classes. Tuition varies by school, and does not include costs associated with room and board, books, school supplies, meal plans, or transportation.

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    #1

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL

    Graduation Rate

    85%

    Enrollment

    51,605

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $15122

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $32264

    From its campus in Champaign, Illinois, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolls students in 372 programs. Students benefit from rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The average student-to-faculty ratio is currently unknown. How much aid students receive on average is not currently known. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 85%. Experiential learning opportunities help graduates on the job market. The institution's admission rate is currently unknown. Some programs let applicants apply without submitting test scores. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements.

    #2

    Frontier Community College

    Fairfield, IL

    Graduation Rate

    63%

    Enrollment

    1,719

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4098

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12082

    From its campus in Illinois, Frontier Community College enrolls students in 54 programs. Students enjoy rigorous programs that rank among the best in the nation. The student-to-teacher ratio is unavailable. The amount of aid students receive on average is currently unknown. The school reports a 63% graduation rate. Job seekers often benefit from hands-on experience, which makes them more competitive job candidates. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Some students qualify for test-optional admissions. Prospective students can contact the admissions office for more information about applying.

    #3

    Lincoln Trail College

    Robinson, IL

    Graduation Rate

    59%

    Enrollment

    797

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4098

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12082

    Lincoln Trail College, located in Robinson, Illinois, operates as a public institution. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school's academic and technical programs prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited institution, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. Enrollees graduate from the school at a rate of 59%. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. Lincoln Trail College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #4

    Elgin Community College

    Elgin, IL

    Graduation Rate

    35%

    Enrollment

    9,931

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3180

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11959

    Located in Illinois, Elgin Community College offers 97 academic programs. The institution's many rigorous academic programs rank among the best in the nation. The average student-to-teacher ratio is currently unknown. The amount of aid students receive on average is currently unknown. Degree-seekers graduate from the school at a rate of 35%. The institution understands that hands-on experience makes graduates more competitive in the job market. The rate of admission for the school is unknown. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying.

    #5

    Olney Central College

    Olney, IL

    Graduation Rate

    64%

    Enrollment

    1,034

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4098

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12082

    From its campus in Olney, Illinois, Olney Central College grants college degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the college helps learners reach their career goals. Students complete courses and experiential learning opportunities to bolster their knowledge. Some programs may operate with a test-optional policy for admissions. The waiver makes it simpler to apply. The school supports learners with academic help and career services. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. Learners attending the accredited school also qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Olney Central College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #6

    University of Illinois at Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    Graduation Rate

    61%

    Enrollment

    32,324

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $13874

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $27566

    University of Illinois at Chicago ranks as a top school from its campus in Chicago, Illinois. Enrollees take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help students reach a variety of career goals. Consult the institution's website to find information on the typical timeline for program completion. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. A waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help applicants determine the next steps. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. University of Illinois at Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    #7

    William Rainey Harper College

    Palatine, IL

    Graduation Rate

    34%

    Enrollment

    13,477

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3774

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11754

    William Rainey Harper College enrolls students at its Palatine, Illinois campus as a public institution. Instructors bring expertise in their fields. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for a successful career. The cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The public school reports a graduation rate of 34%. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Applicants can reach out to the admissions office to learn more about enrolling. William Rainey Harper College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #8

    Moraine Valley Community College

    Palos Hills, IL

    Graduation Rate

    28%

    Enrollment

    13,032

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4446

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11436

    Located in Palos Hills, Illinois, Moraine Valley Community College attracts students with their well-regarded programs. Students take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for students with a variety of professional goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may no longer require standardized tests for admission. These policies make it easier to apply. Admission advisors can provide more information on the application process. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. Moraine Valley Community College has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #9

    Waubonsee Community College

    Sugar Grove, IL

    Graduation Rate

    35%

    Enrollment

    8,665

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3312

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9860

    Located in Sugar Grove, Illinois, Waubonsee Community College often ranks among the best schools. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. Academic and technical programs help learners reach their unique professional goals. Check the program website for specifics on the degree- or certificate-completion timeline. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help prospective students determine the next steps. At the accredited institution, learners also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #10

    Lewis and Clark Community College

    Godfrey, IL

    Graduation Rate

    42%

    Enrollment

    6,413

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3552

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12552

    Located in Godfrey, Illinois, Lewis and Clark Community College awards degrees and certificates as a public institution. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 42%. The school's admission rate is unknown at this time. The admissions office provides more information about application requirements. Lewis and Clark Community College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #11

    College of Lake County

    Grayslake, IL

    Graduation Rate

    28%

    Enrollment

    13,743

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4032

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12530

    A public institution, College of Lake County grants degrees from its campus in Grayslake, Illinois. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their career goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that allows students to bolster their knowledge. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit standardized test scores. The waiver makes it simpler to enroll. The school supports learners with academic help and career services. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners attending the accredited school also qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. College of Lake County has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #12

    Lake Land College

    Mattoon, IL

    Graduation Rate

    52%

    Enrollment

    4,466

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4130

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $13756

    From its campus in Mattoon, Illinois, Lake Land College grants college degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their educational goals. The institution's degree and certificate programs offer coursework that allows students to bolster their knowledge. Applicants may qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. These policies make it easier to enroll. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. At the accredited school, learners qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #13

    Oakton Community College

    Des Plaines, IL

    Graduation Rate

    22%

    Enrollment

    8,083

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3985

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12462

    A public institution, Oakton Community College grants degrees and certificates from its campus in Des Plaines, Illinois. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce or further study. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid, including grants and loans. Bachelor's students graduate from the school at a rate of 22%. The admission rate is unknown at this time. Prospective applicants can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying. Oakton Community College has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #14

    Carl Sandburg College

    Galesburg, IL

    Graduation Rate

    42%

    Enrollment

    1,925

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4810

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8002

    Carl Sandburg College ranks as a top school from its campus in Galesburg, Illinois. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the school offers programs for students with a variety of professional goals. Check the program website for specifics on the degree- or certificate-completion timeline. Some programs may let applicants apply without submitting test scores. A waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help prospective students complete their application. Learners at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover educational costs. Carl Sandburg College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #15

    Rend Lake College

    Ina, IL

    Graduation Rate

    53%

    Enrollment

    2,287

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4050

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $6750

    A public institution, Rend Lake College enrolls students on its campus in Ina, Illinois. The school offers academic and technical programs to help learners reach their educational goals. Students gain knowledge and skill specific to their field by completing their program's coursework requirements. Some applicants qualify for a waiver for standardized test scores. This makes it easier to enroll. The school supports learners with tutoring and career services. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. At the accredited school, learners qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Rend Lake College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #16

    Sauk Valley Community College

    Dixon, IL

    Graduation Rate

    43%

    Enrollment

    1,616

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4680

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11970

    From its campus in Dixon, Illinois, Sauk Valley Community College enrolls students in programs as a public institution. Students complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. The institution offers affordable programs that do not sacrifice academic rigor. The school boasts several programs that appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Sauk Valley Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    #17

    Danville Area Community College

    Danville, IL

    Graduation Rate

    43%

    Enrollment

    2,644

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $5025

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $8325

    Located in Danville, Illinois, Danville Area Community College operates as a public institution. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The college offers academic and technical programs that prepare graduates for the workforce. The cost per credit is unknown. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Students graduate from the school at a rate of 43%. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Prospective students can contact an admission advisor to learn more about applying. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #18

    McHenry County College

    Crystal Lake, IL

    Graduation Rate

    28%

    Enrollment

    7,473

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3584

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $14383

    A public institution in Crystal Lake, Illinois, McHenry County College offers a variety of degree and certificate programs. Experts in diverse disciplines teach at the institution. Students who complete an academic or technical program enter the workforce or pursue a bachelor's degree. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. At the accredited institution, learners qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The school reports a graduation rate of 28%. The school's admission rate is currently unknown. Admissions advisors can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. McHenry County College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #19

    Governors State University

    University Park, IL

    Graduation Rate

    Not Provided

    Enrollment

    4,789

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $10070

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $17582

    A public institution, Governors State University educates students on its campus in University Park, Illinois. The school's academic and technical programs help learners reach a variety of professional goals. Students complete coursework to prepare them for advanced roles. Some programs offer a waiver for standardized test scores. A waiver makes it easier to apply. Learners benefit from support services like tutoring and career counseling. The school's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited school often fund their education with federal aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #20

    Eastern Illinois University

    Charleston, IL

    Graduation Rate

    53%

    Enrollment

    7,806

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $11989

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $14269

    Eastern Illinois University, which operates a campus in Charleston, Illinois, often ranks as a top school. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help students reach a variety of career goals. Visit the program's website to find information on the typical timeline for completion. Some programs may offer test-optional admission policies. A test score waiver makes it easier to apply. The admissions department can help applicants determine the next steps. Financial aid helps students cover the cost of their degree or certificate. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #21

    Wabash Valley College

    Mount Carmel, IL

    Graduation Rate

    52%

    Enrollment

    2,646

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4098

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $12082

    From its campus in Mount Carmel, Illinois, Wabash Valley College educates students as a public institution. Students complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. The institution offers academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. The school offers nationally ranked programs in diverse fields. The school's cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Learners choose from academic and technical majors at the school. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Wabash Valley College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #22

    University of Illinois at Springfield

    Springfield, IL

    Graduation Rate

    54%

    Enrollment

    4,275

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $11813

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $21338

    From its campus in Springfield, Illinois, University of Illinois at Springfield enrolls students in programs as a public institution. Enrollees complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. Learners benefit from the school's academic rigor and affordable tuition rate. Many of the school's degrees make national rankings. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited institution, degree-seekers qualify for federal student aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. University of Illinois at Springfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #23

    Rock Valley College

    Rockford, IL

    Graduation Rate

    30%

    Enrollment

    6,092

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4064

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $16994

    Located in Rockford, Illinois, Rock Valley College grants college degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps learners reach their career goals. Students prepare to contribute to their field by completing courses. Depending on the program, applicants may need to submit test scores. This makes it easier to enroll. The school provides support such as tutoring and career services. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Learners attending the accredited school also qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Rock Valley College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #24

    Morton College

    Cicero, IL

    Graduation Rate

    19%

    Enrollment

    4,439

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4798

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $10942

    Morton College, located in Cicero, Illinois, grants degrees and certificates as a public institution. Students learn from experts in multiple disciplines. The school offers academic and technical programs for students planning to enter the workforce or pursue further studies. The amount students pay per credit is unknown at this time. At the accredited school, students qualify for financial aid, including federal loans, scholarships, and grants. The institution reports a 19% graduation rate. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Prospective applicants can contact the admission department for more information about applying. Morton College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

    #25

    Richland Community College

    Decatur, IL

    Graduation Rate

    46%

    Enrollment

    2,846

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4500

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $14820

    Richland Community College, a public organization located in Decatur, Illinois, offers multiple programs. Students complete programs that prepare them for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Many of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The school's average cost per credit is unknown. Degree-seekers at this accredited institution may qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. The school offers both academic and technical programs. Depending on their program, students complete foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Richland Community College has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #26

    Lincoln Land Community College

    Springfield, IL

    Graduation Rate

    35%

    Enrollment

    5,446

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3420

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $9732

    Lincoln Land Community College, which is often listed among the best schools, operates from its main campus in Springfield, Illinois. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. With academic and technical tracks, the school's programs help learners meet their professional goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Some programs may no longer require standardized tests for admission. Test-optional policies make it easier to apply. The admissions department provides additional resources on applying to the school. Students at the accredited institution also qualify for financial aid to cover costs. Lincoln Land Community College has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #27

    Illinois Central College

    East Peoria, IL

    Graduation Rate

    38%

    Enrollment

    8,749

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4500

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11340

    Located in East Peoria, Illinois, Illinois Central College often ranks among the best schools. Instructors draw on their expertise in diverse fields. The programs offer academic and technical tracks to help learners meet their career goals. Visit the program's website to find information on the typical timeline for completion. Some programs provide a test-optional admission option. A test score waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department provides more information about the application process. At the accredited institution, learners also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Illinois Central College has received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #28

    Illinois Valley Community College

    Oglesby, IL

    Graduation Rate

    30%

    Enrollment

    2,841

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $4000

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11992

    Located in Oglesby, Illinois, Illinois Valley Community College attracts students with their well-regarded programs. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. With academic and technical tracks, the programs help learners reach a variety of career goals. Academic programs generally take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete depending on degree or certificate type. Many schools no longer require admissions tests such as ACT or SAT. A test score waiver makes it easier to enroll. The admissions department can help prospective students complete their application. At the accredited institution, learners also qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Illinois Valley Community College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    #29

    Illinois State University

    Normal, IL

    Graduation Rate

    70%

    Enrollment

    20,878

    Format

    Online, In person

    In-State Tuition

    $14832

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $26356

    Illinois State University enrolls students at its Normal, Illinois campus as a public institution. Degree-seekers study with experts in many different fields. The school offers academic and technical programs for students planning to enter the workforce or pursue further studies. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Students at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 70%. We do not currently have data on the school's admission rate. Prospective students can contact the admission department for more information about applying. Illinois State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting body.

    #30

    City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College

    Chicago, IL

    Graduation Rate

    26%

    Enrollment

    8,762

    Format

    In person

    In-State Tuition

    $3504

    Out-of-State Tuition

    $11544

    A public institution located in Chicago, Illinois, City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College educates students through multiple programs. The school offers programs that prepare learners for the workforce. The institution's affordable programs provide a rigorous course of study. The school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit on average is unknown. Students attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Learners choose from academic and technical programs. The school offers foundational courses, technical classes, and general education courses in multiple majors. City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

    Why Choose a Public College or College or University in Illinois?

    The Prairie State is home to 63 public colleges and universities — including two-year and four-year colleges — and 187 private for-profit and nonprofit schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

    Students and their families are often motivated by cost when choosing a public college or university rather than a private college. Illinois, a member of the Midwest Student Exchange Program, also offers tuition reciprocity to residents in participating states such as Michigan. Additionally, public colleges and universities in Illinois offer far more than just an affordable education.

    Public institutions often have larger research facilities and program offerings. However, private Illinois colleges like Northwestern University — with 90 school-based research centers and 40 university research institutes and centers — also have vast research facilities.

    Public college students can also enjoy more extracurricular and campus activities because public schools in Illinois have higher enrollment numbers than private colleges. Discover the top public colleges and universities in Illinois. Learn how much it costs to attend a school in the state and how to pick the right college.

    Pros and Cons of Attending a Public College or University in Illinois

    Pros

    • More affordable tuition since public colleges and universities receive federal and state aid
    • Greater demographic diversity
    • More available majors and minors, as well as certificates
    • Exciting campus life with more social, civic, and extracurricular activities
    • A high-quality education at a lower price

    Cons

    • Less interest-free financial aid than private schools with large endowments
    • Less geographic diversity
    • Larger class sizes and overall enrollment
    • Less personal atmosphere and less one-on-one time with instructors
    • Potentially less prestige and lower earnings among graduates

    Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in Illinois

    Nonprofit colleges and universities, also called not-for-profit schools, receive public funding from the state and federal government. These institutions usually hold institutional accreditation, signifying the school’s outcomes, curriculum, and facilities have been vetted. Public colleges and universities such as the University of Illinois and Chicago State University qualify as nonprofits even though they profit from tuition and other sources. Tuition and funding from endowments and private donations at a nonprofit go toward educational programs, research, and faculty salaries.

    For-profit colleges and universities are run by shareholders in order to make a profit. Revenue may go toward marketing efforts instead of research and education. Graduates of for-profit colleges and universities, which do not always hold accreditation, may receive a lower quality education. Students at for-profit schools more often have unfavorable graduation outcomes and less success in finding jobs. Employers may also look down on for-profit schools. That said, the pros of for-profit schools, such as higher acceptance rates, should not be overlooked. Some for-profit colleges also train students for specific vocations with flexible and quick programs.

    The NCES College Navigator lists all for-profit and nonprofit colleges in Illinois.

    How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public College or University in Illinois?

    Public colleges and universities in Illinois typically cost less than private schools. According to NCES, Illinois residents attending public four-year colleges paid an average of roughly $14,460 in tuition and fees during the 2019-2020 academic year. Private four-year college students paid $35,570 in tuition and fees during the same period. In-state students at public two-year colleges in Illinois paid an average of about $4,040 in 2019-2020.

    Factors such as residency status can make attending a public college or university expensive. Out-of-state students at public four-year colleges in Illinois paid $29,515 for tuition and fees in 2019-2020, according to NCES. Two-year schools in Illinois charged out-of-state students $11,450 during the same year.

    Tuition costs for out-of-state students vary by school and program. For instance, Northeastern Illinois University charges about $20,180 in tuition for out-of-state students during the 2022-2023 academic year. For out-of-state students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, tuition and fees cost $35,110-$42,800.

    In addition, students must factor in other expenses such as transportation, books, and health. According to NCES, public colleges in Illinois also charged about $6,140 for room and $5,210 for board during the 2019-2020 academic year. Private colleges charged roughly $7,700 and $5,800 for room and board, respectively.

    Nonetheless, despite common misconceptions, not all students borrow money to pay for college. Private and public schools offer financial aid packages, such as grants and scholarships that do not require repayment.

    Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

    Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in Illinois

    How many public colleges and universities are there in Illinois?

    Illinois has 63 public schools, including 12 four-year colleges and 51 two-year schools.

    Two-year schools include Black Hawk College, Capital Area School of Practical Nursing, Carl Sandburg College, the City Colleges of Chicago system, College of DuPage, College of Lake County, Danville Area Community College, and Elgin Community College.

    Public four-year colleges include Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Illinois Springfield, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Western Illinois University.

    What is the most expensive public college or university in Illinois?

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign charges the highest in-state tuition of all the public colleges and universities in Illinois. During the 2022-2023 academic year, in-state students pay about $17,140-$22,320 in tuition and fees.

    Each program at the University of Illinois schools charges a different tuition rate. Business students pay about $38,740 in tuition, fees, and expenses. Engineering, technology, and management for agricultural systems students pay about $36,140 for tuition and fees.

    College tuition across the nation has continued to increase each year since 1980, with students paying 170% more now than they did 40 years ago.

    What is the least expensive public college or university in Illinois?

    As of 2022, students who attend Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville pay about $9,120 annually for tuition and an additional $12,980 for general student fees and room and board. Eastern Illinois University also charges lower tuition than many schools, with students paying $9,660 annually during the 2022-2023 academic year, not including fees. Chicago State University undergraduates paid about $13,660 a year as of 2021.

    Tuition rates differ for undergraduate and graduate students. Out-of-state fees and international student rates can make Illinois’ most affordable public colleges cost as much as a private institution.

    What is the biggest public college or university in Illinois?

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the biggest public institution in Illinois. The school boasted a total student enrollment of 52,331 in 2020, increasing by 4,135 from 2019. As of the 2021-2022 academic year, the college enrolled 56,299 students, with 8,303 in the first-year class alone. U of I also offers a large catalog of majors with 150 undergraduate programs and 100 graduate and professional programs.

    Is a public college or university right for me?

    What college a student attends depends on what they want to study. Public colleges and universities typically offer more areas of study than private colleges. Attending a public college or university may also suit you if you want an education that, on average, costs less than a private college. While private colleges may offer smaller class sizes and lower enrollment numbers, public colleges have larger class sizes and campuses.