I am so excited that we finally get to share the news – Illinois Commitment is here!
What is Illinois Commitment?
Illinois Commitment is a new financial aid program guaranteed to cover tuition and fees for Illinois residents whose family makes at or below the median income for the state ($61,000) with assets less than $50,000 (not including home value, qualified retirement accounts, and family farms) who enroll as either new freshman or new transfers beginning in the Fall 2019 semester. Yes, we’re this excited for a reason!
Some of the best and brightest students in the state of Illinois assume that Illinois is out of their reach financially. Some don’t even consider applying.
We want all high-achieving students across the state to be able to attend Illinois, regardless of family income. It is also our intent to keep the cost of tuition and fees for in-state residents constant for an unprecedented fifth straight year (pending Board approval). Our hope is that by investing in our financial aid programs and maintaining our costs that the University of Illinois will be a more affordable option for many students.
How does it work?
There is no separate application for Illinois Commitment. Illinois Commitment is a financial aid program. This means that students only need to complete their application to Illinois and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be eligible.
Illinois Commitment will cover tuition and campus fees for new freshmen for up to four (4) years, eight (8) semesters of continuous enrollment, and tuition and campus fees for up to three (3) years, six (6) semesters of continuous enrollment for new transfer students. This includes programs with higher tuition such as engineering, business, and many STEM programs.
Setting the threshold of Illinois Commitment at the median income means that 50% of families in Illinois will qualify for this new program. We estimate that approximately 1,800-2,000 new freshman and new transfer students each year will be Illinois Commitment eligible–approximately 33% of the incoming class. After four years we expect that there will be 7,200-8,000 undergraduate students benefiting from the program.
Figure 1. State of Illinois Income Distribution with Cumulative Income Percentile, Source: American Community Survey
There is no program cap or limit in the number of students the program will help. We will continue to make “need-blind” admission decisions.
Illinois Commitment will further diversify the socioeconomic makeup of the Illini alumni network and positively impact Illinois communities, families, and professional environments for years to come. We firmly believe that diversity of student experiences enriches the classroom and our campus.
What about families above $61K?
Available financial aid does not cut off at $61K. Students who not eligible for Illinois Commitment will still be considered for other types of financial aid and scholarships. We are currently working with the state legislators to create a new merit-based AIM High Scholarship program. The state of Illinois approved $25 million for this current year’s state budget to direct to merit scholarships for Illinois residents. The details of AIM High are still being finalized and will be added to financial aid packages in March. You will also be automatically considered for all university or donor funded scholarships.
We’ve put together a fairly comprehensive FAQ page to cover other questions that are relevant to the new program.
As the flagship and land grant university for the state of Illinois, it is our mission to enhance the lives of our state’s citizens. Our primary focus continues to be enrolling Illinois residents. Each year, we strive to enroll at least one student from each of 102 counties in Illinois.
We will continue to enroll non-resident and international students to help challenge our resident students in the classroom and to improve the undergraduate experience for everyone. We hope to see our undergraduate student population continue to diversify.
Illinois Commitment is a game changer for us. We hope that every college-bound student in the state will have Illinois on his or her short list of applications. Illinois Commitment demonstrates the university’s dedication to access and affordability by removing a significant financial barrier for Illinois residents from low- to middle-income homes so they too may receive a world-class education.