Applying to College at UIUC: 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 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign application process and out the other side. 


UIUC 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 UIUC.


The UIUC Application Process

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 UIUC application, you have three options: You can apply through myIllini, Coalition, or the Common App. myIllini is our university application. Common App and Coalition are shared applications that allow you to apply to multiple schools at once. We don’t care which one you choose, so just 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 
  • Any test score results you choose to report
  • 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 UIUC.

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. Note that if you apply through the Common App, you’ll add this information in our self-reported academic record (SRAR) after submitting your application.

2. Test Scores (if provided)

UIUC is test-optional, meaning you’re not required to submit ACT and/or SAT test results when you apply. If you do choose to provide yours, you’ll self-report them just like you do your courses and grades.

We encourage you to report your scores if you feel they accurately represent your ability. Carefully consider your decision, since you won’t be able to change it later on. You can learn more about our test-optional policy within our first-year applicant FAQ.

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 major (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’re applying to college, we also have an undecided option.

4. Short Answers

You’ll answer two to three short-answer prompts in our application, depending on what you’re applying to. Your answers will help us determine if your interests and goals are a good fit for your selected program, so be specific. You’ll also want to be direct, since you only have 150 to work with for each prompt.

5. Essay

You’ll also write an essay. The good news? You have lots of prompts to choose from, and they’re available even before our application opens. This means you can knock your essay out early! Our two best pieces of advice when writing are to 1) answer the prompt, and 2) have a teacher, family member, or counselor proofread it.

6. 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. Or, based on whether you choose to report the ACT/SAT and where you’ve completed your most recent schooling, we may strongly recommend or even require the TOEFL or IELTS.

You can learn more about any additional requirements on our website. If you’re ever uncertain, just ask!


Your Application Status

After you submit your application, it’s important that you check your myIllini status page 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 view your status page and confirm everything is good to go by clicking on your application in myIllini. Even if you’ve chosen to apply through Coalition or Common App, 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 UIUC 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!

UIUC 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!

22 comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Hi Waseem,
    Unfortunately, this is about the undergraduate admission process only. You can learn more about the graduate admissions process through our Graduate College: https://grad.illinois.edu. Thanks for reaching out!

  • Hey, I am planning to apply to Illinois and was wondering how to fill in the scores for the AP tests I took. I am a US citizen but I have done my schooling in India so I am not sure how exactly should I report these scores.

  • Hi Aroosh,

    Thanks for reaching out! AP scores are not considered as a part of your application. You will self-report if you’ve taken any AP courses on the application under the courses section, but any AP exams taken separately are not considered. If you’re admitted to Illinois and choose to enroll, we may be able to award credit for your AP scores: https://admissions.illinois.edu/Apply/Freshman/college-credit-AP.

    If you have more questions as you apply, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 217-333-0302, email us at admissions@illinois.edu, or check out our FAQ: https://admissions.illinois.edu/FAQ/applicant-freshman. We hope this helps and look forward to seeing your application soon!

  • How do I apply for early action using the coalition app?
    The only option available is
    Fall 2020 First Year, due Jan 5, 2020

  • Hi Advay. Good question! In order to be considered an early action applicant, you will need to submit your application for admission along with the application fee/fee waiver by our early action deadline. There is not a button that you need to select in order to indicate you are wanting to be reviewed as an early action applicant. We go by the date the items are submitted to our office. If you have any further questions, please let us know. You can email us at admissions@illinois.edu or call us at 217-333-0302.

  • Hi
    I am presently in my Twelfth grade in India and possess US Permanent Resident status. Will i be able to avail of financial aid ? ( Family has still not moved to US and do not file tax in US)

  • Hi Naman,
    All need-based financial aid is awarded to students based off the information submitted via the FAFSA. If you are not able to submit the FAFSA, then unfortunately no, you would not able to receive need-based financial aid. However, you would still be eligible to be considered for all merit-based scholarships. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 217-333-0302 or email us at admissions@illinois.edu. We’re here to help.

  • Hi Lily! Yes, in order to qualify for Illinois Commitment, you’ll just need to submit the FAFSA; there is no separate application form. Once we receive your FAFSA information, though, we may request and require additional documents to confirm your eligibility. You can learn more about Illinois Commitment on our Financial Aid website: https://osfa.illinois.edu/types-of-aid/other-aid/illinois-commitment/. Thanks for reaching out!

  • Hi, Can you please write about how to fill the year 9-11 part, because i don’t know how to fill it out since i am from Cameroon and it is quiet different from ours. I will really appreciate. I am counting on you… Thanks in advance

  • Thanks for reaching out! Our international admissions counselors are the best resource when it comes to entering your 9-11 courses and grades. You can email them at international-admissions@illinois.edu, and a counselor will get back to you ASAP to ask follow-up questions and walk you through your specific situation.

  • For the activity section, am I supposed to explain what I did in the activity? It doesn’t say it anywhere so I want to make sure. Thank you!

  • Thanks for reaching out, Aden! For the activity section, we want to know what you’ve been involved with both in and outside of your high school. You don’t need to explain what you did with the activity. However, we encourage you not to use acronyms when telling us what you’ve been involved with (for example, if you were involved in National Honor Society, we encourage you to spell that out rather than listing “NHS”). If you’ve held any leadership positions, we encourage you to list those under “Position Held.” We hope this helps! Any other questions, don’t hesitate to email us or call us at 217-333-0302.

  • When are the new admissions starting? Also wanted to know whether the lectures will be online or in physical classroom?

  • Hi Daisy,
    Thanks for reaching out! Our application deadline for freshmen is January 5, and students will receive decisions in mid-February: https://admissions.illinois.edu/Apply/Freshman/dates. Like fall 2020, our spring 2021 semester will include a blend of in-person and remote instruction. No announcements have been made for fall 2021 yet. You can learn more here: https://covid19.illinois.edu/guides/students/. We hope this helps! Any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out at admissions@illinois.edu or 217-333-0302.

  • How do I apply to UIUC through the common app for Fall 2022? I don’t see it in the College List, even after the rollover on August 1.

  • Hi Aditi, thanks for reaching out! Because we’re new to the Common App and our application doesn’t open until September 1, we won’t show up on the site until that date. So you’ll want to check back again then! In the meantime, you can learn more about our application process and writing prompts on our website. Any other questions, don’t hesitate to email us at admissions@illinois.edu or call us at 217-333-0302. We’re here to help!