The ICO Fitness and Wellness Center features a full-size gymnasium, racquetball court, locker rooms and a multipurpose fitness center. The fitness center features stairmills, treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary bicycles, a rowing machine and a variety of strength training and stretching equipment.
To help achieve and maintain your best health, ICO retains a full-time Fitness Coordinator who provides one-on-one training services such as equipment orientation, workout programs, sports-specific training counseling, and more, free of charge. The Fitness Coordinator also oversees a variety of weekly group exercise classes from indoor cycling to belly dancing. The center also offers special programs on topics such as nutrition and breast cancer awareness throughout the year.
ICO offers a rich experience beyond the classroom and clinic by supporting a variety of organizations, clubs and activities. Naturally, extracurricular life extends into Chicago, a city renowned for its museums, music, theater, restaurants, sport teams, parks and night life.
- Student Association
- The Tomb and Key Honor Society
- The Beta Sigma Kappa Honor Society
- Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society
- ICO Omega Leo Club
- Council on Ethics and Advancement of Professionalism
- American Optometric Student Association
- Student Chapter of the American Academy of Optometry
- Private Practice Club
- Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity
- Collegiate Society for the Advancement of Contact Lens Care
- College of Vision Development Optometric Extension Program
- Fellowship of Christian Optometrists
- Canadian Students Association
- Muslim Students Association
- Multicultural Association
- State and International Clubs
- National Optometric Student Association
- Collegiate and Educational Society of the Illinois Optometric Association
Student Association (SA)
All students who are enrolled are members of the SA. Functioning in cooperation with the college administration, SA considers matters concerning student welfare and monitors a wide variety of student activities and publications.
The SA president and Board of Directors are elected by schoolwide balloting and serve as the official representatives of the student body on all matters. The Board of Directors includes representatives from every class as well as officers elected to perform specific functions.
Tomb and Key Honor Society
Tomb and Key Honor Fraternity is the highest academic honor organization at the Illinois College of Optometry. It was formed in 1934 to recognize academic excellence and to promote ethics within the field of optometry.
Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society
The purpose of this honorary society is to recognize upperclassmen who have demonstrated outstanding professional and ethical attitudes through leadership in their class, college and profession. Membership consists of five percent of the third professional year class and ten percent of the fourth professional year class. All of these candidates are chosen for a life-time membership.
ICO Omega Leo Club
The ICO Omega Leo Club is a service organization with a focus on enhancing the community at and surrounding the school, promoting the widespread community service through the International Lions Club Organization.
Council on Ethics and Advancement of Professionalism
Council on Ethics at ICO is dedicated to the principle that the public derives the greatest benefit from ethical, professional optometric care. To further this idea, the Council invites eminent guest speakers who can offer information and guidance in the attainment of a professional optometric future. Membership is open to all students.
American Optometric Student Association (AOSA)
AOSA includes students representing all of the schools of optometry in the U.S. and Canada. Each optometric institution elects a student trustee to represent its students at all AOSA functions. This organization represents student concerns to all other optometric groups including the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO). AOSA dues for ICO students are paid each year by the Student Association from student activity fees.
Private Practice Club
The Private Practice Club was established to help prepare ICO students to enter private practice by making students more knowledgeable of the business aspects of the profession. The club offers presentations, lectures and panel discussions on a monthly basis concerning all facets of practice management. The presenters include a variety of nationally known speakers, optometrists, and other professionals to share their knowledge with students. Topics often include associating with a doctor, practice acquisition, practice management, finance and marketing.
Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity (SVOSH)
SVOSH is an independent, non-profit, charitable organization whose objective is to provide vision care to foreign and domestic people who do not have access to professional vision care. Student volunteers for this independent organization accompany a practicing Doctor of Optometry and other health care professionals on a mission trip to examine local residents and distribute needed eyeglasses free of charge. Medical referrals are made when needed. During recent years missions have been made to Indian reservations in several states, and to countries in Central America and Southeast Asia.
Contact Lens Society
The Contact Lens Society serves to expand the knowledge of contact lens care and management of anterior segment disease among students, while also familiarizing students with advances in optometric health and the availability of products available to assist in improving patient care.
College of Vision Development Optometric Extension Program (COVD)
COVD is an organization devoted to the enhancement and rehabilitation of vision and vision development. In addition, COVD works towards educating the public on the benefits of vision therapy and this unique mode of optometric practice.
Fellowship of Christian Optometrists (FCO)
The Fellowship of Christian Optometrists (FCO) seeks to help optometrists become established in the type of mission work which combines eye care and the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ both in the workplace and on the mission field around the world. FCO meets weekly for fellowship, prayer, snacks, and Bible study. Additionally, FCO gets together for scheduled social, service, fundraising, and mission opportunities.
Canadian Students Association
Through their experiences and efforts, the Canadian Students Association strives to maintain an awareness of optometry in Canada by examining changes in each of the individual provinces. Their goal is to provide an opportunity for Canadian students to meet and discuss topics ranging from financial aid to life in Chicago.
The cultural diversity at ICO has been increasing in recent years. As a result, the Multicultural Association is organized to promote the understanding of the diverse cultures within the ICO and IEI communities.
State and International Clubs
The ICO student body is truly international in scope. Student body members come from all states and many foreign countries. When there is sufficient interest, students from various states often organize informal groups, naming the clubs after their home states. These active clubs have programs and often sponsor visits and presentations by optometrists from their home states to discuss current issues in their individual state practice.
National Optometric Student Association (NOSA)
National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) is affiliated with the National Optometric Association, an organization which was founded for the purpose of increasing the number of optometrists from minority groups. NOSA's mission is also to advance the visual health of minority populations. The ICO chapter of NOSA is involved in a variety of activities oriented towards educating youth about optometry, increasing interest in and awareness of the profession, and helping those underserved populations who are in need of the proper eyecare.
Collegiate and Educational Society of the Illinois Optometric Association (CESIOA)
CESIOA is an official state society. This group functions as a direct liaison between its members and the Illinois Optometric Association (IOA) members. Its members are eligible to join any of the 45 state committees and may participate in all civic, legal and professional aspects of Illinois optometry. One of the significant functions of the CSIOA is to help students secure part-time employment with professional optometrists in Illinois and to assist in locating solo and associate practice opportunities upon graduation. The CSIOA welcomes residents of all states to join its ranks and participate in Illinois events.
The Residential Complex, located directly across the street from the Illinois College of Optometry, is a great student housing option that is unlike anything available at other optometry schools. The modern RC provides a convenient and serious learning environment for students who wish to take advantage of the outstanding amenities available.
The RC is open to all students and consists of one and two bedroom suites, as well as one, two and three bedroom apartments. The apartments are fully furnished and include a bed, couch, chairs, desk, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and more.
The complex also includes a recreation area with Ping-Pong, billiards and foosball, a sun deck, a patio complete with a gas barbecue, computer center, study and social lounges with flat-screen TVs, meeting rooms, and a laundry facility. All accommodations include wireless Internet access; comprehensive meal plans are also available.
Advantages of RC Living:
- Opportunity to meet and interact with 200 student residents
- Convenient access to the Eyepod, library and other ICO facilities
- Safe, secure environment with full-time security staff
- Eases the transition from undergraduate studies to graduate studies
- Great way to get to know Chicago
- Study and social lounges
- Laundry facilities
- Recreation area
- Excellent Events! The RC offers organized trips to Chicago museums, sporting events, theaters and outdoor concerts throughout the year.
- Overall, a unique housing opportunity and facility that is not offered by any other optometry school
Education happens both in and out of the classroom, and a successful experience at the Illinois College of Optometry includes involvement in campus life. ICO provides students with a selection of more than 20 diverse clubs and organizations, leadership development opportunities, community service projects, and special activities such as the Eyeball and International Night. By offering students rich experiences beyond the intensive and rigorous academic program, ICO provides a balanced approach to enhance the capacity of its students and ultimately make them better optometrists.
|ICO Tuition Rates, 2013-14||First Year||Second Year||Third Year||Fourth Year|
|-National Board and Prep Fees*||0||0||$1,126||$1500|
|-Average Loan Fees||$534||$534||$712||$680|
|Total Educational Expenses||$38,621||$40,351||$48,247||$38,073|
(estimated monthly budget ≈ $1,788)
|Estimated Total Budget||$54,717||$56,447||$69,565||$59,391|
|Federal Assistance**||First Year||
|Perkins or HPSL Loan||$3,000||$3,000||$2,000||$6,000|
|Federal Direct Loan||$40,500||$40,500||$40,500||$20,500|
|Additional Direct Loan (BBAY)||0||0||$13,500||$27,000|
|Federal Direct Graduate PLUS||$8,517||$10,247||$10,865||$4,991|
*Applies to those planning to license in the U.S.
**Personal resources or scholarships will usually reduce the amount of the Direct Graduate PLUS and then the Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.
For more information on Federal Loans, repayment plans, eligibility, etc., visit www.studentaid.gov.
The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the U.S. Department of Education's central database for student aid. It receives data from schools, agencies that guaranty loans, the Direct Loan program, the Pell Grant program, and other U.S. Department of Education programs. NSLDS provides a centralized, integrated view of federal student aid loans and Pell grants that are tracked through their entire cycle, from aid approval through closure.
The NSLDS Student Access website is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Note: maintenance of the NSLDS database can occur on the weekends or late hours. This may cause the site to be unavailable for a brief period while the maintenance is performed.
All of the following information, and much more, can be accessed through the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid site:
The Federal Work-Study Program provides jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to your course of study. Students may work up to 15 hours per week during the school year and rates of pay are based on the type of position and the skill level required.
Stafford Loans are unsubsidized and the interest rate is fixed at 6.8 percent. There is a six-month grace period upon graduation (or ceasing to be enrolled at least half-time). You will have between 10-30 years to repay your loan depending on which payment plan you establish.
- An unsubsidized loan is not awarded on the basis of need. You'll be charged interest from the time the loan is disbursed until it is paid in full. If you allow the interest to accumulate, it will be capitalized - that is, the interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan and additional interest will be based upon the higher amount. Note: If your interest is capitalized, it will increase the amount you have to repay. If you choose to pay the interest as it accumulates, you'll repay less in the long run. In addition, the amount of interest you pay may be tax deductible.
Stafford Loan Limits – Health Professions Students
Generally, as a graduate student, you can borrow up to $40,500 each nine month academic period.
The actual amount of loan you receive is based on your need and any other forms of assistance you may be receiving. Generally, the total lifetime debt you can have outstanding from all Stafford Loans combined is $224,000 as a professional student. The graduate debt limit includes any Stafford Loans received for undergraduate or prior graduate study.
The Federal Perkins Loan Program
A Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest (5 percent) loan for graduate students with exceptional financial need. The loan is made with government funds with a share contributed by the school. You must repay this loan to your lender. Perkins loans have a 9 month grace period upon graduation (or ceasing to be enrolled at least half-time).
Federal Perkins Loan Limits
Depending on the year in school, your level of need, and the funding level of the school, you can borrow up to
$8,000 for each year of professional study (the total amount you can borrow as a graduate/professional student is $60,000, including any Federal Perkins Loans you borrowed as an undergraduate). (As of August 14, 2008)
The Health Professions Student Loan Program
This program is part of the Health and Human Services funding programs. It is a federal loan program available to full-time students attending participating schools who demonstrate family financial need. The HPSL loan is a fixed interest (5%) subsidized loan where the government pays the interest during periods of eligible enrollment, grace or eligible deferment.
In addition to completing the FAFSA, the Health Professions student loan program requires institutions to take parental information into consideration when selecting recipients. It is recommended that students who are interested in applying for the HPSL loan complete the parent section of the FAFSA each year. Note: the parent information is only used to determine eligibility for the HPSL program - it does not influence a student’s eligibility for any of the other financial aid programs offered by the College.
Students generally have a 12-month grace period available upon graduation and up to 10 years to repay the loan if it is not included in consolidation loan.
All incoming student applications are automatically evaluated during the admissions process for scholarship consideration. Note: There is not a separate scholarship application for incoming first-year students.
While scholarship opportunities for incoming students are limited, enrolled ICO students have exclusive access to nearly a half-million dollars in scholarships and awards that the College distributes each year. In addition, ICO tracks more than 100 public scholarships and awards. These additional opportunities are always shared first with students and can be pursued further with the Offices of Student Development and Student Financial Services.
The following scholarships are offered exclusively by the Illinois College of Optometry to incoming students:
A limited number of Presidential Scholarships, which are in the amount of one-half of the yearly tuition, are awarded annually. Presidential Scholarships are competitive and are typically awarded early in the application cycle. Applicants should have demonstrated outstanding academic performance at the undergraduate level, possess a minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, an OAT score of 350 or higher, and exhibit outstanding academic promise for a professional education and ability for making a contribution to the ICO community and the profession. Please note, applicants are automatically considered for this prestigious award during the admissions process and early applicants receive greater consideration.
This scholarship fund was established to encourage outstanding students to select ICO as their school of choice for professional education. The amounts of the awards vary based upon the available funds in a given year. Please note, applicants are automatically considered for this award during the admissions process and early applicants receive greater consideration.
Illinois College of Optometry Scholarships for Underrepresented Populations
The Scholarships for Underrepresented Populations were established to encourage students from underrepresented minority populations (African American, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American) to pursue a career in Optometry and to select ICO as their school of choice. The recipient should have demonstrated outstanding academic performance at the undergraduate level, possess a professional demeanor, demonstrate high ethical standards and integrity, and exhibit outstanding academic promise for a professional education and ability for making a contribution to the ICO community and the profession. Upon being selected to interview, eligible candidates should notify the Office of Admissions of their interest in being considered for this scholarship. A limited number of scholarships, which are in the amount of $5,000, are awarded annually.
To receive aid from the federal student aid programs, you must meet all the following criteria:
- have financial need, except for some loan programs
- be enrolled at least half-time or accepted for enrollment as a regular student working toward a degree
- be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- have a valid Social Security Number. If you don't have a Social Security Number, you can find out more about applying for one at www.ssa.gov
- maintain satisfactory academic progress
- sign a statement on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) certifying that you will use federal student aid only for educational purposes
- sign a statement on the FAFSA certifying that you are not in default on a federal student loan and that you do not owe money back on a federal student grant
- register with the Selective Service, if required
- If you are a male 18 through 25 years of age and you have not yet registered with Selective Service, you can give the Selective Service permission to register you by checking a box on the FAFSA. You can also register through the Internet at www.sss.gov
The Student Financial Services Office at ICO will do everything possible to assist candidates with obtaining the funds necessary for their professional education. Learn more about ICO’s estimated cost of attendance.
Snapshot of Financial Aid Process
Start Early. ICO only requires the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for financial aid. This form is available Jan. 1 for the upcoming Fall term. Please note that you must reapply for federal aid every school year.
Review the eligibility requirements for federal financial aid.
Complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. This saves time and helps avoid common errors that are more difficult to catch on a paper application. Plus there is no charge for completing the FAFSA.
- Our school code is 001689
Tip: You should save all records and all other materials used in completing the application because you may need them later if your application is selected for verification by the Department of Education. You should also print out a copy of your FAFSA before you submit it and keep it for your records.
Apply for loans and work-study opportunities. By completing the FAFSA and submitting all appropriate documentation, students will automatically be considered for a financial aid package that covers the cost of attendance and includes work-study, student loans and scholarships offered by the college.
Partner with ICO’s Office of Student Financial Services. This office will work with students to assist them in finding the most affordable ways to finance their education and manage student loans. On interview day, an ICO financial aid information packet is made available to candidates and includes information on financial aid programs including the federal work-study program, Federal Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Health Professions Student Loans (HPSL), and the Perkins Loan Program.
Learn more about other financial aid resources available to you.