Whether you are an admitted freshman ready to attend Illinois State University next fall or a family member of an admitted student, congratulations! We can’t wait to have you as part of our Redbird family.

We’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to finalize the process through Admissions, some basics you’ll want to understand as you consider the investment you’re about to make, and the ways in which Illinois State helps you make a successful transition to college life.

Save your spot

You have until May 1 to reserve your place in the freshman class by submitting your non-refundable $150 enrollment deposit at My.IllinoisState.edu. This portal is where you can go to review any of your next steps, including submitting your enrollment deposit. There, you will be able to pay your enrollment deposit fee via credit card.

Alternatively, you can mail a check or money order to the Office of Admissions, payable to Illinois State University. Just remember to include your University ID number and indicate “Enrollment Deposit” with your payment.


Next, let’s talk about housing. By submitting your housing contract before May 1, you will receive a randomized online room selection date that will allow you to select your living space on campus. To be clear, you may submit your housing contract after May 1, but your residence hall and room would be assigned to you.

To submit your housing contract, visit the University Housing website and enter the housing portal from there. You’ll have an initial payment of $300 to make, and then you can create a roommate profile, connect with potential roommate matches, and even apply to live in a Themed Living and Learning Community if interested. Please note, once you have taken these initial steps, you will have nothing more to do for housing until your room selection date is sent to you in mid-June. You will then make your room selection in July.


Once you have submitted your housing contract, you will be prompted to select your meal plan, as all freshman students living in university housing will eat in the dining centers. You can choose a 5-day or 7-day unlimited meal plan—or a weekly plan with either 14 or 19 meals per week. Regardless of your choice, you will have Flex Dollars on your Redbird Card that can be used at retail locations around campus, such as Qdoba, Starbucks, and McAllister’s Deli.

Finalize your file

Lastly, you’ll need to complete your file for Admissions by July 15 by submitting your final official high school transcript, your official test scores from either College Board or ACT, and any AP exam scores you’ve earned. Proof of immunizations is due to the University by August 1 … and then you’re ready to be a Redbird!

Investing in your future

Now let’s talk about how to make college a reality for you and your family. We know it’s a significant investment, but no investment will ever return for you as well as your education—and we’re here to help you plan and budget, as well as answer any questions you may have.

First, let’s cover everyone’s number one question—how much does it cost? Our example student is taking 15 credit hours each semester, living in a double room in one of our residence halls, and has selected a 7-day unlimited meal plan. The total cost of just under $25,000 represents charges directly billed by the University. Please note this does not include additional expenses like books and supplies. You should also know that your tuition rate will remain the same at Illinois State for your four undergraduate years—making it easier for you and your family to budget. Now let’s talk about types of financial assistance that can help you cover these cost.

Types of funding

By now you should have your financial aid offer. If not, you can find any additional documents needed at My.IllinoisState.edu.

Gift assistance

On your financial aid offer, you will see a variety of types of aid. Scholarships, grants, and employment are considered gift assistance because you do not need to repay these funds. Scholarships can be awarded by the University or a number of other organizations. You can expect to complete an application for most scholarships, and you can find helpful tips on searching for scholarships on our website. Remember, searching for scholarships is a one of the best ways a student can help their family pay for college.

By filing the FAFSA, you might also qualify for need-based grants. These would be awarded automatically and appear on your financial aid offer.

Student employment

Last among the free sources of aid listed is employment. Finding a job on campus is relatively easy, and we highly encourage you to check out the jobs website to see if anything is of interest to you. Over 6,000 students work on our campus, and even more hold jobs in the local community. What’s more, research suggests that working on campus actually improves academic performance and community engagement.

Student loans

Now let’s talk about self-help. This is the money you must pay back. The federal government offers student loans with relatively low interest rates and generous repayment plans. In fact, more than half of our students borrow from the federal direct loan program. We always encourage students to only borrow what they need, and there is a limit to the amount they can borrow directly from the federal government. Freshmen can borrow up to $5,500, sophomores can have $6,500, and juniors and seniors max out at $7,500. Parents can take federal loans as well, and Parent PLUS loans can be borrowed up to the student’s cost of attendance minus any other aid. These federal loans are fixed rate loans, and can be deferred until after graduation.

In addition to federal loans, you can pursue private loans from any number of different sources like banks and private companies—and you can learn more about these loan providers on our website. Private loans are borrowed by the student but usually require a consignor, such as a parent or guardian. Keep in mind that consignors with great credit may be able to obtain loans with better interest rates than that of the PLUS loan. As with anything, it is important that you do your due diligence in researching loans—some options will be better than others for your family.

What to expect from your bill

Lastly, in regard to finances, make sure you’re familiar with your bill. You can find this information in your My.IllinoisState.edu portal. Choose from different payment plans and even authorize another user so that a parent can see your statements, make electronic payments, or speak on your behalf to Student Accounts if needed.

Preview, our summer orientation

Preview is our day-and-a-half long new student orientation program during which you’ll get your Redbird Card, register for classes, and meet fellow incoming freshmen. Students can stay in a residence hall overnight—and in fact, so can parents if they would prefer that to one of our local hotels. You’ll leave Preview feeling prepped and ready for all Illinois State has to offer. Sign up at My.IllinoisState.edu.

ALEKS math placement

All new students must complete the ALEKS math placement exam by May 25 so their information is on file when they register for classes at Preview. Once you’ve submitted your enrollment deposit, you will have access to ALEKS in the My.IllinoisState.edu portal. ALEKS does not need to be proctored, and students may take it online from home. For more information about ALEKS, visit IllinoisState.edu/ALEKS.

First year and beyond

Illinois State is committed to your ongoing success, and we offer a multitude of free academic resources to ensure you stay on your path to graduation. From workshops on developing effective study habits, to tutoring and mentoring in any of our 150+ majors, to academic advising that begins before even your first semester on campus, we’re here to ensure your successful transition to life at Illinois State.

We can’t wait for you to start Creating your Legacy as a Redbird. We welcome you to connect with us on any of several social media platforms, and as always, we are here to answer any questions you may have. Until then, best of luck with the remainder of your school year—and we look forward to welcoming you to campus this fall!