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Illinois State University


Illinois State UniversityIllinois State University takes pride in the fact that it is the oldest public university in the state. Founded in 1857, it opened at a time when all other colleges in the state were private schools. ISU originally served as a teaching college. The Illinois Department of Education opened the same year, and the state passed the Free School Act at the same time, which called for free and reduced price schools. ISU quickly became popular with students who could not afford to leave the state for college and eventually saw its student body grow to include students from across the country and from some international territories too. ISU later changed from a traditional teaching college to a liberal arts university.

ISU saw itself appear on several national rankings. Washington Monthly, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report all included ISU on lists of the country’s best colleges. Despite having an enrollment of nearly 20,000 students, it maintains a low ratio of students to professors and has just 18 students for every professor working on its campus. Some of the opportunities and activities open to enrolled students include fraternities and sororities, honors’ societies, the campus newspaper and its radio station. ISU also takes pride in its athletic organizations and boasts 17 varsity teams, including basketball, baseball, track and field, swimming, diving and football.

Resource: 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the Midwest

Illinois State University Accreditation Details

ISU first sought accreditation for its teacher education program but later gained regional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. With its NCACS accreditation in good standing, the university can give its graduates the degrees they earned and offer current students financial aid packages that include assistance from the state and federal government. It also has specialty accreditation from organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the National Association of Schools of Music. Those organizations accredited its programs in nursing and music. ISU also has specialty accreditation from other groups, including:

  • Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology
  • American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
  • American Council for Construction Education
  • Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering
  • National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
  • National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences

Illinois State University Application Requirements

ISU accepts students of all ages and backgrounds, including international students, home school students, transfer students and recent high school graduates. High school students can submit applications online, but they will need to know their test scores, social security numbers, grade point averages and other basic information. After completing the application, they must submit documents that validate the info they provided. Students admitted into the university usually have a GPA of at least 3.0 and an ACT score of 21 or higher or an SAT score of at least 990. Transfer students must have a GPA of at least 2.72 before transferring their credits.

The application asks students to list any college courses they took prior to enrolling and what they want to major in at ISU. They must also submit a personal academic statement that explains how ISU will help them reach their academic goals. ISU also recommends that students use the essay to explain why they received poor grades in select classes. There is a $50 application fee that students must pay at the same time that they submit their applications. Those who receive an acceptance letter must also send a $150 nonrefundable deposit to the university. The university uses that deposit to hold a spot for that student.

Tuition and Financial Aid

As Illinois State University is a public university, it offers lower tuition rates, but the university also charges less for residents of the state. Any student who can prove residency in Illinois for at least six months before enrolling will pay just over $14,000 a year for tuition and miscellaneous fees. ISU estimates that students will spend more than $9,000 on room and board and that all other costs will bring their costs to just over $28,000 a year. Students from other states pay a higher tuition rate of more than $25,000 a year. Their annual costs come in at around $39,000.

ISU offers a number of different ways for students to pay for college. Students must file the FAFSA, which establishes the gross income of their parents and determines how much assistance their parents can provide. Students can borrow more than $10,000 a year in loans, including both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Unsubsidized loans charge interest while the borrower is still in school, but subsidized loans do not incur interest until the student leaves college or graduates. Students may receive more than $15,000 a year in grants. Those who need more financial assistance may qualify for a work-study program, which will help them earn several thousand dollars every year.

Student Experience

ISU offers resources for students entering the university who are undecided about their majors. They can take career tests and meet with counselors to learn more about each major available and which ones are right for them. The university also offers support for students interested in changing their majors and helps them understand what credits will transfer into a new course of study. Festival ISU takes place every year and lets students sign up for clubs on The Quad. There are also movies shown on The Quad, more than 300 organizations like the campus radio station and student government and teams for both men and women with national rankings.

As the university started as a teaching college, it makes sense that some of its more popular majors are in the education field. One of those is a degree program in history and social sciences that prepares students for working as high school teachers. Approved by the Illinois Department of Education, this program offers fieldwork experiences that include a student observation program and a student teaching experience.

Another degree program available at ISU is its legal studies program. Students can use their degrees to work as paralegals or legal assistants, but some students later attend law school and work as attorneys after passing the bar exam. ISU offers experiences and opportunities designed for all types of students. Illinois State University offers dozens of other majors too, including majors in agricultural management, interior design, business information systems, computer science, communication sciences and disorders, early childhood education and school health education.