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Cost is one of the top concerns for making education decisions. There are many expenses in nursing school beyond the simple cost of tuition, fees, room, board, and books. Other expenses include the up-front costs of moving in, including apartment furniture and additional school supplies. The total cost of attending nursing school also depends on the type of school and length of program. Broadly speaking, the less time spent in school, the less expensive it will be. That said, it is important to remember that more time spent in school often correlates with a higher salary. Below you can find a brief description of the major types of nursing programs, as well as their respective levels of compensation.

Certified nursing assistant (CNA) programs
CNA programs are offered at career, vocational, and community colleges, all of which cost significantly less than attending a traditional university. CNA programs only take several weeks to a few months to complete, making them the quickest and most affordable route to a career in nursing. In Illinois, CNAs can expect to earn close to $25,000 per year.

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Licensed practical nurse (LPN) programs
LPN programs are also offered at career, vocational, and community colleges, making these programs more affordable than attending a traditional university. LPN programs usually take 12 to 18 months to complete, so they are more expensive than CNA programs. However, this increased cost means more extensive training, more responsibility in the workplace, and higher pay. In Illinois, LPNs can expect to earn approximately $45,000 per year.

Associate’s degrees in nursing (ADN)
An ADN program typically takes two years to complete. Associate’s degree programs are the fastest and least expensive way to become a registered nurse (RN), and they are offered at a number of accessible and affordable community colleges in Illinois. The state’s RNs can expect to earn nearly $65,000 per year, making this investment well worthwhile.

Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
BSN degree programs require four years of study. There are accelerated tracks available for RNs with associate’s degrees and for students who are new to nursing but already hold bachelor’s degrees in other fields. Earning a four year-degree in nursing is the most expensive way to become an RN, but it’s also the best way to remain competitive on the job market. In Illinois, the high-end salary for RNs is well over $65,000 annually.

To help you find a school in your desired price range, the following is a comprehensive list of nursing schools in Illinois, organized from most to least expensive.

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Chicagoland metro area

Ambria College of Nursing
Associate's Degree in Nursing (24-month program): tuition and fees $31,760, books and supplies $2,775
Certificate in Practical Nursing (13-month program): tuition and fees $25,400, books and supplies $1,999, room and board $13,247
J'Renee College
Certificate in Practical Nursing (10-month program): tuition and fees $22,215, books and supplies $3,735, room and board $7,000
Illinois School of Health Careers - Chicago Loop
Nursing Assistant Certificate (8-month program): tuition and fees $15,750, books and supplies $650, room and board $5,600
Illinois School of Health Careers - Chicago O'Hare
Nursing Assistant Certificate (8-month program): tuition and fees $15,750, books and supplies $650
SOLEX College
Nursing Assistant Certificate (2-month program): tuition and fees $995, books and supplies $85
State Career College
Nursing Assistant Certificate (2-month program): tuition and fees $850, books and supplies $50
School Program Length Tuition & fees
Ambria College of Nursing Associate's Degree in Nursing 24 months $31,760
Certificate in Practical Nursing 13 months $25,400
J'Renee College Certificate in Practical Nursing 10 months $22,215
Illinois School of Health Careers - Chicago Loop Nursing Assistant Certificate 8 months $15,750
Illinois School of Health Careers - Chicago O'Hare Nursing Assistant Certificate 8 months $15,750
SOLEX College Nursing Assistant Certificate 2 months $995
State Career College Nursing Assistant Certificate 2 months $850

Springfield

Capital Area School of Practical Nursing
Certificate in Practical Nursing (10-month program): tuition and fees $8,535, books and supplies $1,282, room and board $13,330
School Program Length Tuition & fees
Capital Area School of Practical Nursing Certificate in Practical Nursing 10 months $8,535

St. Louis suburbs

Beck School of Practical Nursing
Certificate in Practical Nursing (12-month program): tuition and fees $14,300, books and supplies $1,113, room and board $11,028
Nursing Assistant Certificate (2-month program): tuition and fees $615, books and supplies $215
School Program Length Tuition & fees
Beck School of Practical Nursing Certificate in Practical Nursing 12 months $14,300
Nursing Assistant Certificate 2 months $615