One of the more stressful aspects of your senior year of high school is trying to nail down a college to attend the next year. Private or public? Head straight to University, or do Community college first, then transfer? Do I take a gap year? Just as stressful is trying to nail down finances. Scholarships, financial aid, lotto winnings. Luckily the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is helping out in-state seniors make the leap by offering free tuition for four years to qualifying students.

Free. All four years.

It's part of what they're calling the Illinois Commitment. Starting in the fall of 2019, all students who qualify and get accepted get up to four years tuition and fees covered by the university, as part of a land grant.

How do you qualify? Well, the full rules are at their website, but the most general guidelines are:

  • You're an Illinois resident, and if your parents are listed on the FAFSA, they must also be Illinois residents
  • Your family income is $61,000 or less
  • Your family assets are less than $50,000
  • You're admitted as a new freshman or transfer student
  • You're under the age of 24

Now unfortunately, I'm well over the age of 24, so I can't apply. But if you know some kids who would qualify and are looking to stick somewhat close (Urbana-Champaign is only three hours away) to home when they "go away" to college next year, look no further than the University of Illinois.

Seriously, where was something like this when I was a kid?