Applying to Illinois: A Complete Guide

Applying to college is key, and you want to get it right. It can also be a complicated maze full of twists and turns (including different requirements and deadlines for every school on your list!). We’re here to guide you through the Illinois application process and out the other side. 


Illinois Dates & Deadlines

As you’re applying to colleges, the number of dates floating around your head can be overwhelming. Although you don’t want to miss an important deadline, you deserve to save your brain space for more important knowledge—like how to tame llamas in Minecraft.

So without further ado, grab your planner and add these dates to it. They’re the ones you need to know when it comes to Illinois.

Application Pro Tip

Don’t confuse our early action option with early decision options offered at other colleges (because yes, it’s confusing!). Unlike early decision, early action is what we call “nonbinding.” So if you apply early action to Illinois, you should receive your decision earlier than other applicants, but you won’t be locked in to attending Illinois unless you choose to. You’ll also still have until May 1 to make your decision.


The Illinois Application

You can’t apply to a college without submitting an application, and there’s a lot to unpack in ours! Let’s dig in.

Choosing Your App Type

When you’re ready to begin your Illinois application, you have two options: You can apply through myIllini, our university application, or Coalition, a shared application that allows you to apply to multiple schools at once. We don’t care which one you choose, so pick the one that makes the most sense to you.

Things You’ll Need

Before you start your application, make sure you have the following things on hand:

  • a copy of your high school transcript 
  • all of your test score results
  • a credit card to pay your application fee (if you don’t have a fee waiver)

We also suggest a quiet place devoid of distractions—including any llama-taming—to help you maintain your focus. A pair of headphones and a good playlist (might we suggest ours?) can go a long way as well.

Application Pro Tip

Things you won’t need? Letters of recommendation or the like, since we don’t accept them. You also don’t need to send official transcripts or official test score results our way; we only ask for the official versions of these if you enroll at Illinois.

Stuff Our App Includes

The majority of our application will be fairly easy to fill out, but it can take some time (so make sure you don’t wait until the night before a deadline to start!). You’ll begin by adding some personal information, like your name and address, where you go to school and your graduation date, and so on. We won’t get into all that here, but let’s touch on some of the more substantial parts.

1. Courses & Grades

We ask you to self-report your high school courses and grades, which means you’ll enter them directly into our application. Be sure to refer to that copy of your transcript we mentioned above so that what you provide is accurate.

2. Test Scores

We also ask you to provide your scores for any standardized tests, like the ACT or SAT. As with your courses and grades, you will self-report these, entering the highest scores for those you’ve taken. (If you haven’t taken these tests yet, we have some advice on how to tackle them!)

3. Major

Before you apply, you can learn more about the majors we offer through our program explorer. In our application, we’ll ask you to select both a first and second choice (in case you aren’t admitted to your first choice). If you still aren’t sure what you’d like to major in by the time you apply, we also have an undecided option.

4. Essay

Our essay prompt is available even before our application opens, which means you can knock it out early. Whenever you choose to start writing, we have some tips to help (spoiler alert: make sure you answer the question we’re asking).

5. Activities, Honors, & Distinctions

Finally, we’ll ask you to provide a certain number of activities, honors, and distinctions. Take some time to think about the things you’ve been involved in and the things you’ve accomplished. Whatever is most important to you belongs on this list!

Application Pro Tip

If you have any questions as you’re working, review our FAQ. You can also talk to your high school counselor, who can give you more guidance on how to answer certain questions. You can even ask them to fill out our application worksheet as it pertains to your school.

Additional Requirements

Sometimes, students need to do more than just submit our application. For example, if you’re applying into a talent-based major like art, dance, music, or theatre, you’ll need to complete an audition or submit a portfolio. You can learn more on our website.


Your Application Status

After you submit your application, it’s important that you check its status to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. Seriously, there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve applied only to discover later on that your application was never actually complete.

You can confirm everything is good to go by clicking on your application in myIllini. Even if you’ve chosen to apply through the Coalition Application, we’ll create a myIllini account for you that you’ll use moving forward in the process.


a pile of money

Applying for Financial Aid

Although financial aid is a crucial part of the college application process, you actually have to apply for it separately. How? By submitting the Free Application for Student Financial Aid, or FAFSA. To learn more about that process as well as other ways to cut your cost of attendance, read our Guide to Paying for College. Note, though, that financial aid funding is only available to U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.


We hope this guide will serve you well throughout the Illinois application process. If you get lost in the maze at any time, don’t hesitate to email us or call us at 217-333-0302. We’re here to help!

Illinois Admissions

Illinois Admissions

We're here for you as you prepare for college. Whether you're looking for guidance on the college search process or have questions about Illinois, we hope our blogs will help!

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