Best Community Colleges in Illinois
Find out how enrolling in one of the best community colleges in Illinois can help you transition into the workforce.
There are a total of 48 community colleges in 39 districts in Illinois. The Illinois Community College Board was established in 1965 as an outstanding initiative that provided state residents with an alternative pathway toward securing entry-level jobs in high-demand industries.
More than 600,000 students now attend in-person classes and online community colleges in Illinois, which offer a variety of affordable academic programs that include two-year associate degrees, credit courses, short-term training programs, and professional certificates. Furthermore, many Illinois community colleges now offer fully online courses to provide students with a more convenient learning setup.
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Why Study in Illinois?
If you are struggling to meet the financial demands of four-year colleges and universities, then enrolling in a community college in Illinois may provide a less expensive option.
Along with the benefit of completing a two-year associate degree, you can also transfer the credits you earn from your courses to a four-year school, where you can pursue a bachelor's degree.
Out of all 50 states, Illinois ranks sixth in population and fifth in GDP, trailing only California, Texas, New York, and Florida. Illinois benefits from a diverse economy, with emerging industries in agriculture, advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, business services, education, and energy.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Illinois is almost seven points below the U.S. average, which means that living here is more affordable than in most states in the country.
Among all living costs, only transportation in Illinois is currently higher than the national average; all other expenses in the state are cheaper. Housing costs are almost 21 points below the national average. Costs for groceries, healthcare, and utilities in Illinois are also below the national average.
Cultural and Community Offerings
Chicago may be Illinois's best-known feature, but the state also offers a diverse array of cultural activities. Tourists and residents can visit state-of-the-art theaters, vibrant jazz bars, historic towns, and scenic outdoor trails.
Illinois also houses an excellent lineup of museums and cultural centers, including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Fine Line Creative Arts Center, McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, Hieronymus Mueller Museum, and Creek Bend Nature Center.
The climate in Illinois has four distinct seasons and is characterized as continental, with long summers and very cold winters. On average, the state of Illinois gets slightly less snow than the national average and a significant amount of rain. The best time of the year to visit Illinois or go on an outdoor activity is from June to September, when the weather is typically warm and sunny.
Top Degree Programs in Illinois
Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Illinois Employment Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate in Illinois was 6% as of October 2021. The state is still recovering from the drastic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the market. Employers in the state offered a total of 40,900 new jobs in October 2021 alone, according to the BLS and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
5 Illinois Jobs in Demand for 2021
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
Along with its high projected job growth, the transportation industry already employs about 581,300 professionals in Illinois. Earning associate degrees and other postsecondary certificates qualify graduates to assume entry-level roles as air traffic controllers, flight attendants, material moving machine operators, sales workers, and water transportation workers.
Food Preparation and Serving Occupations
The food preparation and serving industry currently offers 418,400 jobs in Illinois, making it the fifth-largest industry in the state. Completing an associate degree and/or professional certification allows graduates to work as supervisors in food preparation and serving, assistants to chefs and head cooks, and cooks for private households.
Education, Training, and Library Occupations
With student enrollment projected to increase in Illinois, the demand for employees in the education industry will also grow. Although most jobs in this industry require a bachelor's degree, preschool teachers, teacher assistants, library assistants, technical education teachers, and ESL teachers only need associate degrees.
Healthcare Support Occupations
Due to an aging population, healthcare occupations are projected to grow throughout Illinois. Completing an associate degree can lead to careers as audiology assistants, dental assistants, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, home health and personal care aides, practical and vocational nurses, medical assistants, nursing assistants, and occupational therapy assistants.
Computer Support Occupations
Most companies and businesses that hire computer support specialists only require an associate degree or a postsecondary education certification. Computer support specialists offer their expertise to computer users and organizations.
Best Accredited Community Colleges in Illinois
Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team
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Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Illinois
Are community colleges worth it?
Since not all students can afford the higher tuition fees and costs of enrolling at a four-year university or college, community colleges present a viable pathway toward an entry-level job in the workforce. With reduced costs and a quicker route for securing a degree, attending a community college is certainly worth it.
Community colleges provide students with alternative educational options that include two-year associate programs and skills training programs that can be completed entirely online. Community college students can also enroll in courses where credits earned are transferable to four-year higher education institutions.
How many community colleges are in Illinois?
There are a total of 48 community colleges in Illinois, which are spread across 39 public community college districts. The state's community colleges work in partnership with the Illinois Community College Board and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
The City Colleges of Chicago system is composed of seven campuses, while the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges system is composed of four colleges. Other community colleges in Illinois include Harper College, Lake Land College, Lincoln Land Community College, Elgin Community College, Oakton Community College, John Wood Community College, Moraine Valley Community College, and College of Lake County.
What is the number one community college in Illinois?
With more than 200 online courses spread across 24 academic programs, the Frontier Community College is considered the best community college in Illinois.
Located in Fairfield, Illinois, FCC was established in 1976 and is now one of the four institutions that comprise the Illinois Eastern Community Colleges system. FCC offers associate degrees, transfer degrees, and certificate programs in arts and sciences, business, education, health and wellness, public safety, and technology.
How much does community college cost in Illinois?
As for private community colleges like Coyne College, Fox College, Kendall College, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts-Chicago, Lincoln College of Technology-Melrose Park, and Taylor Business Institute, tuition rates can reach $15,965 per year.
Is community college free in Chicago?
Students in community colleges in Chicago can now apply for career training programs without any fees. The City Colleges of Chicago system created the Future Ready initiative, an educational platform that offers more than 60 career training programs that students can participate in at no cost. The Future Ready initiative plans to enroll more than 3,000 students online and in person.
Students can also apply for free tuition through the Chicago Star Scholarship. Since 2015, this scholarship has granted almost $5 million in financial assistance.
Feature Image: Bob Krist / The Image Bank / Getty Images
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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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