The United States of America is known for having exceptionally high yearly tuition fees at post-secondary institutions. In Illinois, tuition can range anywhere from the low $10,000s to the $40,000s for in-state and out-of-state students.

Thankfully, there are many cheap universities in Illinois that offer tuition rates on the lower end. This applies to in the state, out-of-state, and international students. Though costs are always higher for international students, the schools listed in this article present international rates that are that high compared to in-state and out-of-state tuition.

Remember that any student can always apply for financial aid, as well as various scholarships, which are best located on the university’s official website. These options, if granted, can cut down your tuition fees exponentially.

These fees are presented as a per-year tuition rate and are presented in USD currency. Fees in this article are presented at the undergraduate level only (consult university websites for graduate rates)

Cheap Universities in Illinois

1. Eastern Illinois University

Located in Charleston, IL, this cheap university in Illinois was founded in 1895. EIU offers 51 undergraduate degree programs, including a renowned teacher’s college program. With more than 170 recognized student organizations and various competitive sports teams, EIU is a school that offers a variety of multidisciplinary options both inside and outside the classroom.

EIU has a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:14 and an undergraduate enrollment of 5500. It is ranked first in the state for preparing the most amount of undergraduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees and ranks in the top 5 percent internationally.


2. Chicago State University

Next on our list of cheap universities in Illinois is Chicago State University, which is a public university established in 1867. With a heavy focus on aiding and providing quality education to society’s underserved, this university places an emphasis on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Chicago State University offers eight academic areas, including Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Health Sciences, Honors College, School of Pharmacy, First Year Experience, and Nontraditional Programs. Chicago State offers over 56 programs. The faculty-to-student ratio is 1:10, and its undergraduate enrollment is approximately 2000. The official university website can be found here.


3. Western Illinois University

Founded in 1899 and opened in 1902, Western Illinois University is a public university located in Macomb, IL. The Princeton Review has named Western Illinois as one of the “Best in the Midwest Colleges”.

Deemed a “military friendly” institution, this cheap university in Illinois offers over 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, many of which are extremely unique, ranging from Fire Protection Services to Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. With a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:13, its undergraduate enrollment is approximately 7,500.


4. National Louis University

Founded in 1886, National Louis University is a private university located in Chicago, IL. Promoted by NLU themselves as being one of the “oldest and most progressive” universities in Chicago, they offer over 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Their four colleges, in which degree programs are offered, include the National College of Education, the Undergraduate College, Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, and the College of Professional Studies and Advancement.

NLU is within the top 25 most diverse national universities. NLU has a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:17, and an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1900.


5. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Established in 1869, public doctoral university SIUE offers eight colleges through which various degree programs are offered, including the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Dental Medicine, School of Education, Health, and Human Behaviour, School of Engineering, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, and Graduate School.

This cheap university in Illinois has also been awarded by Washington Monthly as one of the “Best Bang for your Buck” universities in the Midwest. SIUE has a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:19 and an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 11,000.


6. The University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago is a public university located in Chicago, IL. Valuing diversity and established in 1965, UIC has 86 bachelor’s programs. This university was founded initially as a series of private health colleges in the 19th century. UIC also houses the largest medical school in the US.

UIC is the only public research university in Chicago, with over 200 organizations and clubs for students to explore. With a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:19, UIC’s undergraduate enrollment is approximately 19,500.


7. Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

We end our list of cheap universities in Illinois with SIUC, which is located in Carbondale, IL. It is predominantly known as a public research library, and is ranked in the top 5 percent of research universities/higher education institutes in the U.S. SIUC is known for awarding more than $10 million in scholarships every year.

With a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:14, small class sizes ensure that each student is given adequate personal assistance and attention by their faculty. The total undergraduate enrollment is approximately 11,000. SIUC offers popular programs such as law, education, engineering, psychology, and healthcare management.


Illinois is a state that has houses many cheap universities, including these above options and more. Illinois offers accessible options for students across the globe. Always remember, though, that fees may be subject to future change as per the institution’s rules and standards. The fees listed above do not always reflect the costs of residence and other expenditures, so be sure to consult the official university website for the most accurate fees depending on your situation and on which year you are applying for.


We hope that this article on the cheap universities in Illinois was helpful. If you are interested in studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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