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Illinois Policy

Updated As Of: April 25, 2017

The state of Illinois provides undocumented students with in-state tuition and privately funded scholarships through Public Act 093-007 (In-State Tuition) and SB 2185 (Illinois DREAM Act).

Student Eligibility Requirements

  • Resided with his or her parent or guardian while attending a public or private high school in Illinois;
  • Graduated from a public or private high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in Illinois; 
  • Attended school in Illinois for at least 3 years as of the date of graduating from high school or receiving the equivalent of a high school diploma; 
  • Registers as an entering student in the University not earlier than the 2003 fall semester;
  • Provides the University with an affidavit stating that the individual will file an application to become a permanent resident of the United States at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so.

For more information on SB 2185 scholarship eligibility requirements, please see the Illinois Dream Fund Application.


  • Public Act 093-007 (HB 0060), effective May 20, 2003, allows in-state tuition for undocumented students.
  • Public Act 097-0233 (SB 2185)effective August 1, 2011, authorizes a private scholarship fund for undocumented students.
  • As of November 2016, the senate introduced SB 2196 stating, regardless of status, studentes who meet requirements have access to state grants, scholarships, awards, and other state financial aid. The bill was referred to the House Rules Commitee on Jan. 3, 2017.
  • Governor Rod Blagojevich signed the Right to Privacy at Work Act in August 2007, prohibiting the employee legal status verification system E-Verify. However, the law was later overturned in the U.S. District Court on September 25, 2007.
  • Introduced in February 2011, SB 1064 would have blocked private immigration detention centers from being created but failed to pass.
  • Signed January 28, 2013, and effective November 28, 2013, SB 957 allows undocumented immigrants who have lived in the state of Illinois for at least one year, have a valid form of identification, and proof of insurance to obtain a driver’s license.
  • HB 3047 establishes the Office of New Americans in order to effectively assist immigrants in overcoming barriers to success and help communities capitalize on the assets of their immigrant populations.
  • HJR 40 establishes a task force to identify the effectiveness of current ESL programs, develop new program ideas, and  incorporate best practices. 
  • HB 143 creates a tax check-off to support Illinois DREAM Fund scholarships.
  • HB 3739, introduced in 2017, is also known as the Safeguarding Sanctuary Cities Act. If passed, it would provide that if a unit of local government has in place any policy that limits or restricts compliance with a detainer, any grant of State funds that the local government would otherwise receive may not be reduced or not made available by reason of noncompliance with immigration detainers. It has been referred to House Rules Committee in March 2017.
  • HB 426, introduced in 2017, is also known as the Immigration Safe Zones Act. If passed, it would provide that schools, medical treatment and health facilities, and places of worship may not grant access to law enforcement to investigate, detain, or arrest individuals for violation of federal immigration law unless a court has issued a warrant or it is required by law, and appropriate personnel has approved. Employees of schools would also be prohibited from asking about a student's (or their family's) immigration status. It was referred to House Rules Committee in March 2017.
  • HB 3415, introduced in 2017, would require every employer to verify the employment eligibility of new employees through the E-Verify program. It was referred to House Rules Committee in March 2017.
  • Latino Progresando: Serves immigrants with low cost legal services, community education, and advocacy around immigrant policy.
  • Immigrant Youth Justice LeagueChicago-based organization led by undocumented organizers working towards the full recognition of the rights and contributions of all immigrants.
  • ACLU of Illinois: Non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the state Constitution, and state/federal human rights laws.
  • Immigrant Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR): Dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.

Federal law has been unsuccessful at addressing comprehensive access to postsecondary education for undocumented students. Despite efforts to pass the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, Congress has not addressed the current ambiguous language in IIRIRA regarding undocumented students' eligibility for educational benefits (i.e. in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid programs). Therefore, much of the policy activity regarding postsecondary access for undocumented students has shifted to state and system levels. As a result, state policymakers and higher education institutions take varied approaches to either broadening or restricting access to postsecondary education and educational benefits. Others states have yet to take formal action on this issue, leaving the decision to individual campus leaders.

Under the provisions of this ambiguous policy context, undocumented youth encounter contentious environments with policies that range from inclusive, restrictive, or unstipulated stances.

Inclusive: States with policies that explicitly grant in-state tuition and/or eligibility for public financial aid for undocumented students.

Restrictive: States with policies that explicitly deny eligibility for admission and/or in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Unstipulated: States that do not have stated policies that explicitly address undocumented student access to postsecondary education.

State and system policies are volatile and continuously changing. For the latest, please visit the uLEAD NewsdeskFor information specific to individual state context, click in the subheadings below.