20 Great Scholarships in Illinois

Roaming the “Prairie State” for scholarships in Illinois can reduce the financial burden of steepening college tuition.

From Chicago to Springfield, Illinois is fifth most populous state nationwide with over 12.8 million inhabitants. Since Illinois College granted the state’s degree in 1835, higher education has exploded with 60 public and 86 private institutions.

Whether you prefer bustling urban campuses like the University of Chicago, Roman Catholic schools like DePaul University, close-knit liberal arts communities like Lake Forest College, or STEM-centric innovation hubs like the Illinois Institute of Technology, you’ll find excellent opportunities here. In fact, Illinois’ Northwestern University is deemed America’s 12th best university overall by the U.S. News.

Top 20 Best Deals on Small Colleges in Illinois

Midwesterners needing extra funds for post-secondary education should consider the following 20 great Illinois scholarships.

1. Anhelo Project Dream Scholarships

Deadline: January 13th

The Anhelo Project in Chicago offers several Dream Scholarships to remove road blocks for undocumented students, including DACA recipients, who are pursuing college education in Illinois. Qualified dreamers must register for 12+ credits at an accredited institution, carry a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better, be ineligible for federal financial aid, submit two letters of recommendation, and commit 20 hours of volunteer time to Anhelo Project events.


Anhelo Project Dream Scholarships

P.O. Box 08290

Chicago, IL 60608

(773) 609-4252


Scholarship Link

2. Arland D. Williams, Jr. Scholarship

Deadline: May 15th

Established in 1982, the Arland D. Williams, Jr. Scholarship presents $2,500 yearly to honor the Mattoon native’s selfless heroism during an airplane crash. The Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation seeks full-time juniors, seniors, and graduate students studying full-time at accredited U.S. business schools who graduated high school in Coles County. Having good academic standing in a finance, banking, accounting, economics, or computer technology major is imperative.


Arland D. Williams, Jr. Scholarship

2701 S. Banker Street Suite 102A

Effingham, IL 62401

(217) 342-4988


Scholarship Link

3. Billy Smith Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: February 1st

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois instigated the Billy Smith Memorial Scholarship to provide $1,000 for graduating high school seniors from Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, and Stephenson counties who’ve played varsity baseball or softball for 3+ years. Eligibility criteria requires having U.S. citizenship, pursuing a sports-related degree, matriculating at an accredited Illinois college full-time, attaining an overall GPA above 3.0, and exhibiting leadership skills with school involvement.


Billy Smith Memorial Scholarship

946 North Second Street

Rockford, IL 61107

(815) 962-2110


Scholarship Link

4. Bleeding Disorders Community Scholarship

Deadline: April 1st

Administered by the Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI), the Bleeding Disorders Community Scholarship gifts $1,500 to support college-bound seniors who’ve been diagnosed with congenital or acquired chronic bleeding and clotting disorders like hemophilia. Eligible Downstate Illinois natives must have visited an HTC within the last two years, been admitted into an accredited post-secondary school, reached a minimum 2.5 GPA, and demonstrated desire to succeed.


Bleeding Disorders Community Scholarship

3625 North Sheridan Road

Peoria, IL 61604

(309) 674-8730


Scholarship Link

5. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Scholarships

Deadline: April 15th

Sponsored by Elaine’s Hope, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless bestows $2,500 scholarships for five Illinois graduating high school seniors from the Chicagoland area who’ve experienced homelessness in the last five years. Suitable applicants must be under 22 years old, be former CCH youth clients, enter an accredited two or four-year nonprofit college, hold a minimum weighted GPA of 2.5, and demonstrate significant financial need.


Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Scholarships

70 East Lake Street Suite 720

Chicago, IL 60601

(312) 641-4140


Scholarship Link

6. Friends of Volo Bog Scholarships

Deadline: March 31st

Since 2016, the Friends of Volo Bog has delivered three $1,000 scholarships each year to entering and continuing undergraduates from Illinois’ Kane, Cook, DuPage, Kendall, McHenry, Lake, and Will counties. Appropriate applicants would hold a minimum “B” average, maintain full-time enrollment at accredited U.S. universities, select a major in the environmental or natural sciences, and write 400-word essays about their motivations for careers in conservation.


Friends of Volo Bog Scholarships

28478 W. Brandenburg Road

Ingleside, IL 60041

(815) 344-1294


Scholarship Link

7. Golden Apple Scholars Program

Deadline: February 15th

Offering up to $23,000, the Golden Apple Scholars Program is one of the largest scholarships in Illinois for high school seniors, college freshmen, and sophomores who are enthusiastic about entering the teaching profession. Scholars must attend one of the 52 partnering schools, such as Elmhurst, Illinois Wesleyan, Loyola, Rockford, and Southern Illinois. Eligible students must hold a 2.5 GPA or higher, score at least 1030 on the SAT, and commit to teaching five years at high-need schools after certification.


Golden Apple Scholars Program

8 South Michigan Avenue Suite 700

Chicago, IL 60603

(312) 407-0006


Scholarship Link

8. Herman J. Neal Scholarship Fund

Deadline: April 1st

The Illinois CPA Society manages the Herman J. Neal Scholarship Fund created by a Chicago physician dedicated to opening opportunities for young African Americans. For the $4,000 awards, students of color must be entering their junior, senior, or graduate year of an accredited accounting program to fulfill the 150-hour requirement for Certified Public Accountant licensure. Similar funds include the Debra R. Hopkins “Be a CPA” Scholarship and Arthur R. Wyatt Scholarship.


Herman J. Neal Scholarship Fund

524 South 2nd Street Suite 504

Springfield, IL 62701

(217) 789-7914


Scholarship Link

9. Illinois Nursing Education Scholarships

Deadline: May 31st

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) awards the Nursing Education Scholarships for $2,985 to $10,901 each to full-time college students accepted into associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree programs for nursing. Qualified applicants must legally reside in Illinois, enroll at ACEN or CCNE accredited schools, have a cumulative GPA above 3.0, demonstrate unmet financial need, and pursue registered nursing (RN) licensure. Recipients sign agreements to work in Illinois medical facilities for direct patient care.


Illinois Nursing Education Scholarships

535 W. Jefferson Street

Springfield, IL 62761

(217) 782-1624


Scholarship Link

10. ISPE/Peppy Moldovan Scholarships

Deadline: March 31st

Valued at $1,000, the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers’ (ISPE) Peppy Moldovan Scholarships are given to female college sophomores who are entering ABET-accredited engineering schools. Acceptable colleges include Bradley University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Eligible ladies must finish 30+ credits with a minimum 3.0 GPA, submit two references, and write a 500-word essay discussing their engineering interests.


ISPE/Peppy Moldovan Scholarships

100 East Washington Street

Springfield, IL 62701

(217) 544-7424


Scholarship Link

11. Jean E. Taketoshi Scholarship

Deadline: May 2nd

Founded in 1946, the Japanese American Society of Chicago distributes the Jean E. Taketoshi Scholarship for $1,500 to graduating high school seniors who are attending higher learning institutions full or part-time basis. Being of Japanese ancestry isn’t requisite, but candidates must reside in Illinois, have good academic standing, and be involved in community service with Japanese American organizations. Other JASC funds include the John Iwaoka Scholarship and Nielsen STEM Scholarship.


Jean E. Taketoshi Scholarship

4427 N. Clark Street

Chicago, IL 60640

(773) 275-0097


Scholarship Link

12. John Stroger Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: April 28th

The Illinois Counties Association (ICA) presents the John Stroger Memorial Scholarship for $7,000 annually to residents who are pursuing their first bachelor’s degree at an accredited Illinois university full-time. Preference is given to those interested in government, public service, public administration, or political science. Selected scholars must be U.S. citizens, enroll without interruption, sustain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, and engage in civic-minded activities.


John Stroger Memorial Scholarship

100 E. Washington Street

Springfield, IL 62701

(217) 528-3434


Scholarship Link

13. Martin J. Svaglic Humanities Scholarship

Deadline: March 1st

At Loyola University Chicago, the Martin J. Svaglic Humanities Scholarship grants $2,500 to two incoming freshmen or transfers who’ve declared English, fine arts, history, classical studies, history, theology, philosophy, journalism, foreign language, theatre, or communication majors. Eligible applicants must hold a high school diploma, achieve a minimum overall 3.0 GPA, and score at least 1170 on the SAT or 26 on the ACT. Consideration isn’t given to financial need.


Martin J. Svaglic Humanities Scholarship

6339 North Sheridan Road

Chicago, IL 60660

(773) 508-7704


Scholarship Link

14. Palumbo Family Foundation Scholarships

Deadline: March 31st

The Palumbo Family Foundation offers need-based scholarships of varying amounts to support college students who’ve resided in Illinois’ Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties for at least six months. Incoming freshmen, current undergraduates, and professional students are welcome. Qualifying criteria includes holding U.S. citizenship, achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, having an annual adjusted family income under $47,700, and submitting two faculty recommendation letters.


Palumbo Family Foundation Scholarships

321 Center Street

Hillside, IL 60162

(708) 544-9220


Scholarship Link

15. Peter Grunwald Scholarship Award

Deadline: March 31st

The National Federation of the Blind of Illinois (NFBI) created the $2,000 Peter Grunwald Scholarship Award to honor his pioneering policymaking with the Illinois General Assembly. Interested applicants must be legally blind, reside in the Prairie State, attend an accredited college or vocational school full-time, display academic merit with a 2.5 GPA or better, and participate in community service. Applications must include a self-portrait discussing how visual impairment has impacted students’ lives.


Peter Grunwald Scholarship Award

5817 North Nina Avenue

Chicago, IL 60631

(773) 203-1394


Scholarship Link

16. Polish Women’s Civic Club Inc. Scholarship

Deadline: October 15th

Celebrating its 60th year, the Polish Women’s Civic Club Inc. Scholarship has given over $500,000 to deserving college undergraduates who have at least one parent of Polish descent. Qualified applicants must be U.S. citizens or resident aliens, call Illinois home, attend a Chicago campus of an accredited four-year institution, study full-time with at least sophomore standing, and need financial assistance. There’s also the Donald Gutowski Athletic Scholarship.


Polish Women’s Civic Club Inc. Scholarship

P.O. Box 67

Arlington Heights, IL 60006

(773) 777-6300


Scholarship Link

17. Robert Sherman Fine Art Scholarship

Deadline: April 15th

The Glenview Art League created the Robert Sherman Fine Art Scholarship with a one-time, $1,000 award for budding high school artists who are graduating from District 225. It’s intended to finance tuition at accredited two and four-year colleges for visual art majors, including drawing, sculpture, painting, design, photography, ceramics, and video production. Applicants must submit proof of college acceptance, an art teacher recommendation, and a flash drive of 10 work samples.


Robert Sherman Fine Art Scholarship

P.O. Box 463

Glenview, IL 60025

(847) 724-4007


Scholarship Link

18. Sara Elizabeth Stubblefield Scholarship

Deadline: April 30th

In remembrance of a licensed clinical social worker who advocated for epilepsy education until her unexpected death in 2011, the Sara Elizabeth Stubblefield Scholarship provides $2,000 annually. Deserving recipients must be diagnosed with epilepsy or seizure disorder, graduate from a public or private high school in Illinois, matriculate at least half-time at a college or technical school, have good academic standing, and exhibit perseverance in overcoming epilepsy.


Sara Elizabeth Stubblefield Scholarship

3515 North Belt West

Belleville, IL 62226

(618) 236-2181


Scholarship Link

19. Thomas F. Seay Scholarship Fund

Deadline: April 1st

The Illinois Real Estate Educational Foundation currently offers 15 funds, including the Thomas F. Seay Scholarship for $2,000. This one-time award assists Illinois residents who are pursuing real estate education at any accredited institution to become a licensed realtor. Scholarship criteria includes being a U.S. citizen, completing at least 30 semester hours, maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better, and having economic need. Also consider the Ralph Pritchard Scholarship and Roxane Malo Leadership Scholarship.


Thomas F. Seay Scholarship Fund

522 South 5th Street

Springfield, IL 62701

(866) 854-7333


Scholarship Link

20. William H. Kleinschmidt Scholarship

Deadline: February 15th

Worth $3,000, the William H. Kleinschmidt Scholarship is delivered by the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend to Illinois residents of Rock Island County. Eligible graduating high school seniors must be entering an accredited college full-time to pursue healthcare training with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Financial need is the major component, but merit is evaluated by academic record, community involvement, work experience, and personal circumstances. Preference is given to students at Augustana College and Trinity College.


William H. Kleinschmidt Scholarship

852 Middle Road Suite 100

Bettendorf, IA 52722

(563) 326-2840


Scholarship Link

Degrees in the “Land of Lincoln” certainly won’t come free. Illinois presently stands as the United States’ fifth most expensive state for college. Tuition and fees cost an average of $12,550, and rates have risen by 17.9 percent in the last five years. Several institutions, especially private nonprofits, up the price tag considerably higher. Financial aid goes a long way towards making post-secondary goals more affordable. Along with these scholarships in Illinois, don’t forget the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and Illinois Veteran Grant (IVG).