In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Illinois

Wondering how to get in-state tuition in Illinois? Keep reading to learn about Illinois residency requirements.

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by Blake Weil

Published on August 4, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Illinois
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Between the vibrant city of Chicago, the blue waters of Lake Michigan, and the beauty of Pere Marquette State Park, Illinois is a great place to study and live. For Illinois residents, affordable in-state tuition makes it an even more appealing place to go to college. In-state tuition is also available for many Illinois-based online colleges.

Generally, Illinois has a slightly higher average tuition for residents than the national average. However, out-of-state and private school tuition is lower than the national average. Tuition rates are gradually increasing, in line with rising educational costs nationwide.

What's the Difference Between In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition?

In-state tuition is available for dependent students whose families have resided in Illinois for 12 consecutive months. Independent students must live in Illinois for 12 consecutive months themselves. They may not be enrolled in any institute of higher learning more than half-time during this period of establishing residency.

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Generally, in-state tuition is cheaper than out-of-state tuition. This is because state taxes, paid by residents, go to funding state schools. State residents pay the difference in tuition rates through their tax dollars.

Other factors can influence tuition rates. Public schools are generally cheaper than private schools, many of which don't offer different tuition based on residency. Four-year degree programs also generally cost more than two-year degree programs. And online colleges sometimes offer lower tuition than in-person colleges.

How Much Is In-State Tuition in Illinois?

According to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees for an Illinois resident was $14,455 in 2019-20 at a public four-year college. This is higher than the national average in-state tuition of $9,349. However, Illinois generally has a lower cost of living than other states, balancing out the higher tuition costs.

While in-state graduate school tuition varies by program, public in-state graduate school is generally cheaper than private or out-of-state graduate school.

In-State Tuition Costs and Required Fees in Illinois
Institution Type Average Cost of Tuition and Fees
Public 4-year (in-state) $14,455
Public 2-year (in-state) $4,035
Graduate School (in-state) $12,410

Source: NCES

Can I Get In-State Tuition in Illinois?

In-state tuition in Illinois is available for:

Students can prove residency by offering one of a number of documents that show consecutive residency, including tax returns, driver's licenses, and utility bills.

To become an Illinois resident, students could potentially look into working for a year in Illinois while preparing to apply for college.

How Much Is Out-of-State Tuition in Illinois?

According to NCES data from 2019-20, out-of-state tuition and fees in Illinois cost, on average, $29,515 in a public four-year degree program. Like in-state tuition, this price is slightly higher than the national average for out-of-state tuition. The lower cost of living in Illinois may make paying out-of-state tuition more financially feasible than in other states.

While public, out-of-state graduate school tuition is higher than in-state graduate school tuition, it is still more reasonable than private graduate school tuition. Students should consider the total net cost of education, including any financial aid, before making a decision.

Out-of-State Tuition Costs and Required Fees in Illinois
Institution Type Average Cost of Tuition and Fees
Public 4-year $29,515
Public 2-year $11,450
Private 4-year $35,570
Public Graduate School $12,410
Private Graduate School $26,597

Source: NCES

Can Out-of-State Students Get In-State Tuition Rates in Illinois?

Reciprocity Programs

Illinois State University offers a reciprocity program with in-state tuition to students in the bordering states of Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

Illinois no longer participates in the Midwest Student Exchange. As such, additional reciprocity programs are unavailable.

High Academic Achievement

Academic scholarships are available for high achieving students. State schools offer these to help attract highly talented students. These scholarships can help reduce net costs for out-of-state students. Students can establish academic proficiency with a demanding course load, a high GPA, and strong ACT or SAT scores.

Exemptions and Exceptions

Tuition waivers and tuition exemptions exist for several programs. Note that a majority of these programs require Illinois residency. For example, Illinois state offers a tuition waiver for 40 ROTC members annually. Investigate if any schools of interest offer tuition waiver programs you're eligible for.

Illinois State also offers the Illinois Commitment program. This program offers four years of free, in-state tuition to Illinois residents whose families make $67,100 or less annually. Families must also have under $50,000 in assets, and students must be under the age of 24 and graduates of Illinois high schools.

How Much Does Community College Cost in Illinois?

While community college in Illinois is not universally free, many schools have begun offering free tuition. This is often tied to qualifications such as GPA and family income level.

For those who are not eligible for free tuition to community college, in-state tuition is modest. According to NCES data from the 2019-2020 school year, in-state students pay an average of $4,035 in tuition and fees, while out-of-state students pay $11,450.

Frequently Asked Questions About In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Illinois

Who qualifies for in-state tuition in Illinois?

In-state tuition is available to established residents of Illinois. For learners whose parents claim them as dependents, their family must have lived in Illinois for at least 12 consecutive months. Those who are independent must live in Illinois for 12 consecutive months. The prospective student must not be more than part-time in any institute of higher learning during this establishment period.

Students can prove their residency with a number of official documents, including driver's licenses, utility bills, and Illinois high school diplomas.

How much does a private college cost in Illinois?

Private college tuition and fees in Illinois cost an average of $35,570, according to 2019-20 data from the NCES. In general, private college tuition is more expensive than public college tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students.

Many private colleges offer competitive financial aid packages to high-achieving students. Before deciding that a private college is out of reach financially, consider the net cost of attendance after potential aid.

Why is out-of-state tuition so much higher than in-state?

State-sponsored schools are supported by the tax dollars of residents of the state. Long-term residents of the state have already paid money to the government towards supporting the school in the form of taxes. They are entitled to lower tuition considering what they have already paid. An out-of-state student, on the other hand, would have put no tax money towards the state school system.

States also view public education as a public service. As such, they are willing to subsidize education for their residents in hopes of having a more educated population.

How long do you have to live in Illinois to get in-state tuition?

Students whose parents claim them as dependents must have their family, including parents, live in Illinois for 12 consecutive months in order to be eligible for in-state tuition. Independent students are required to live in Illinois for 12 consecutive months.

It is worth noting that Illinois does not consider any time spent studying more than part-time towards residency requirements.

Does Illinois have tuition reciprocity with any other states?

Illinois State University has tuition reciprocity with all its neighboring states. These states are Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. Tuition reciprocity means that students from these states can attend Illinois State University with in-state tuition rates.

The state of Illinois no longer participates in the Midwest Student Exchange tuition reciprocity program. This means additional reciprocity opportunities are not available in Illinois.

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