Cost of Attendance
|ICO Tuition Rates, 2013-14||First Year||Second Year||Third Year||Fourth Year|
|-National Board and Prep Fees*||0||0||$1,126||$680|
|-Average Loan Fees||$534||$534||$712||$680|
|Total Educational Expenses||$38,621||$40,351||$48,247||$38,073|
|(estimated monthly budget ≈ $1,788)||$267||$267|
|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.
If you have any questions regarding financial assistance, feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office.
Financial Aid Resources
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:
Types of Financial Aid
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 January 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. [Note: Consider a pull out box with the tip]
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.
International Applicant FAQ
1) What percentage of International Students do you accept each year?
Our goal is to admit highly qualified students to our program regardless of origin. Therefore, we do not have a limit on the number of International Students admitted.
2) Do I have to satisfy certain special academic requirements to be admitted?
Not beyond the published admission requirements to ICO.
3) What is a DSO?
The Designated School Official is the person on-campus designated to assist International Students. At ICO, the DSO is Mrs. Lavern Young, Registrar.
4) What is an F-1 Nonimmigrant?
An F-1 Nonimmigrant is a foreign student pursuing a full course of study at an academic institution authorized to admit foreign students.
5) What is a Form I-20? How and when do I get one?
A Form I-20 is the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Students issued by the College accepting students. An approved college may issue one to a foreign accepted applicant after proof of financial responsibility has been met. The Registrar/DSO will mail you an I-20, no later than thirty days prior to the start of the Fall Quarter.
6) What is the SEVIS fee?
The DHS regulations require that individuals seeking status as an F-1 nonimmigrant student pay a $200 fee to cover the costs for the continued operation of the Student Exchange Visitor Program, including the administration and maintenance of SEVIS. Student and exchange visitors will have the options to pay with a check by mail or with a credit card via the Internet. DHS will also accept fee payment from a 3rd party, either in the US or abroad. For current SEVIS fee information, please see the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement website at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/index.htm.
7) Is a passport required for entry to the United States? Birth Certificate? Social Insurance Number?
Yes; you must present your passport, valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay, at the port of entry. You must also present your SEVIS Form I-20. You should carry these by hand instead of checking them with your luggage, to ensure that they are not lost.
In addition, it is strongly recommended that you also hand carry the following documentation:
- Evidence of financial resources;
- Paper receipt for the SEVIS fee, Form I-797, and
- Designated School Official contact information: Ms. Lavern Young, 1-312-949-7430. If unavailable, please contact: Office of the Registrar, 1-312-949-7425.
8) Are family members eligible to enter the United States with me?
Yes, the spouse and unmarried minor children of an F-1 nonimmigrant may accompany the student to the United States. They will be classified as F-2 nonimmigrants. There is no SEVIS fee for spouses and dependent children.
9) Do you have any tuition payment plans available for International Students?
ICO does not have a specific payment plan for International Students. However, we do have several payment plans available for any student who chooses one.
10) Is Financial Aid outside Canada available?
Yes, but unfortunately very few low interest loans are available to foreign students. The Student Financial Services Office at ICO will assist you in determining what loans, if any, you qualify for, all of which require a United States co-signer. Canadian loans are also available to students studying in the United States.
11) Are immunizations required?
Yes, students who enroll at a post-secondary educational institution are required by Illinois State Law to present proof of immunity (from Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Tetanus/Diphtheria) to their College/University. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that health care workers comply with certain infection control measures. Specifically, this involves immunization for Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and annual testing for Tuberculosis (TB). The required forms are made available to the incoming class.
12) Is Medical/Health insurance available?
Yes, Major Medical and Dental Insurance is available through the American Optometric Student Association. Information may be obtained from www.studentresources.com. It is important that you notify your Provincial Health Care Plan (i.e. Ontario - Health Insurance Plan) that you will be attending school in the United States. Most provincial plans will cover you, but only partially.
13) Will I be permitted to go home for holidays? Quarter breaks? If so, do I have to apply for a new visa each time I leave or re-enter the United States?
Yes, you are permitted to leave and re-enter the United States as long as your documents are valid and properly endorsed. You do not have to apply for a new visa each time. Usually, the visa is valid for the duration of the program.
14) Do I have to inform the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of a change of address?
All foreign nationals residing in the U.S., including U.S. permanent residents and non-immigrants, who are over the age of 14 and remaining in the U.S. for more than thirty days are required to report a change in address to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services within 10 days. Change of Address forms are available in the Office of the Registrar.
15) If due to an unforeseen reason, I don't complete the program on time, can I apply for an extension?
Yes, contact the Designated School Official (Mrs. Lavern Young) for the required paperwork.
16) Am I permitted to remain in the United States after graduation?
Yes, an F-1 student may be eligible to engage in temporary employment for practical training in his or her field of study. Practical training following completion of studies is designated as Optional Practical Training, which may be granted for a maximum of twelve consecutive months. No specific job offer is required to request Optional Practical Training.
17) When and how do I apply for Optional Practical Training?
A student must apply prior to completion of the course of study. The Designated School Official will assist you with the required paperwork during the winter quarter of your fourth year of study.
18) Am I permitted to leave and re-enter the United States under this training?
Yes, an F-1 student engaged in Optional Practical Training who travels outside the United States temporarily can be readmitted for the remainder of the authorized training period, provided the student presents the Form I-20 (endorsed by the Designated School Official within the preceding six months) and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
19) Is on/off campus employment available for International Students?
Yes, an F-1 student may accept on-campus employment at the institution he or she is authorized to attend without prior approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In addition, an F-1 student may work a maximum of 20 hours a week while attending school. A United States social security number is required. There are certain conditions which must be met in order to engage in off-campus employment. The Designated School Official can assist you in this process.
20) Do I need to apply for a Social Security Card for employment purposes?
Yes, the Social Security Card will state, "Not Valid for Employment Purposes", which means unauthorized employment. In fact, it is suggested that you apply for a Social Security Card as soon as possible after entering the United States.
21) Where do I obtain a Social Security Card?
You must apply in person to the nearest Social Security Office. You are required to complete an application and show proof of identity. Acceptable examples of identity documents are driver's license, passport, school ID card and birth certificate. To be eligible for a Social Security Number you must provide evidence of age and identity, an I-20 form, a current I-94 (you will receive when you apply for your F-1 visa), and a letter from the DSO stating that you are authorized to engage in on-campus employment. Pertinent information is available in the Office of the Registrar. Processing takes approximately 6-8 weeks.
21) What are National Board Exams?
National Board Exams are comprehensive national evaluation exams used to assist state boards in determining the candidates' entry competence and safety for the practice of Optometry.
22) Do you have any Provincial Board Exam information available?
The Office of the Registrar requests state board licensing requirements annually from all states within the U.S. and Canada. The information is kept on file for your convenience.
International students who are selected for admission to the program must present proof of financial responsibility by June 15th of the year of admission. Proof of financial responsibility is documentation that adequate funds exist for the candidate’s first year of study. An estimated cost of attendance can be obtained from Student Financial Services by March of the planned enrollment year. Evidence of financial responsibility will allow the College to issue the student an I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) which must be presented to the US Consular Office in the home country (or, for Canadian citizens, at the port of entry/Canadian border) to apply for an F-1 nonimmigrant visa.
The following documents are used to apply for an F-1 Visa:
• Form I-20 AB
• Evidence of English ability
• Evidence of intent to depart the US after completion of studies
• Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected stay
• Financial support documentation
• SEVIS fee receipt (I-797 or electronic receipt)
In addition, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations require that individuals seeking status as an F-1 nonimmigrant student pay a $200 fee to cover the costs for the continued operation of the Student Exchange Visitor Program, including the administration and maintenance of SEVIS. Student and exchange visitors will have the options to pay with a check by mail or with a credit card via the Internet. DHS will also accept fee payment from a 3rd party, either in the US or abroad. For current SEVIS fee information, please see the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement website at: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/students/index.html.
As an international applicant, you are required to fulfill all of the general admission requirements, including successful completion of the Required Pre-Optometry Curriculum, and the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Because ICO offers only a graduate-level program, it is also required that you successfully complete a total of at least 90 semester credit hours of undergraduate coursework or earn a bachelor’s degree (or the equivalent).
If you have completed college-level coursework at schools outside the United States or Canada or if your transcripts are not written in English, the transcripts must be submitted to an official evaluation service for a course-by-course analysis. ICO accepts transcript evaluations from World Education Services, Inc. (WES) and Educational Credential Evaluations (ECE). An official copy of the evaluation must be forwarded directly to the Office of Admissions from the evaluation board and not to OptomCAS.
In addition to the standard application process, applicants for whom English is a second language must demonstrate proficiency in both written and spoken English. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all applicants for whom English is a second language. If you feel compelled to forego this examination, you may submit a written request that this requirement be waived.
The Admissions Committee will evaluate international applicants using the same criteria by which U.S. applicants are evaluated. We recommend that you begin to
assess your own strengths and weaknesses early in the application process. Check out ICO’s Entering Class Profile and tips to Strengthen Your Application.
Entering Class Profile
|Full Profile .pdf|
Strengthening Your Application
Letters of Evaluation
Optometry Admission Test