I continue to be astonished by the stories and impact of students at Illinois. I look forward to interacting with and hearing from the yearly cohort of Illinois Promise Scholars. These students’ curiosity, innovation, and compassion make waves throughout society.  

Over the past year, the support of our generous friends and alumni supported ## Illinois Promise Scholars totaling over $$. This generosity provided coaching opportunities in addition to events for students to network and learn. The Illinois Promise program continues to ensure access to a world-class education and promises the support needed to succeed within and beyond the classroom.  

-Robert J. Jones, Chancellor
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Since its inception in 2005, Illinois Promise has stood as a gateway to opportunity, ensuring that driven students from various backgrounds in our state can access a transformative education. The program remains dedicated to supporting academically exceptional students who might otherwise lack the means to attend our university.  

Beyond financial aid, I-Promise embodies a commitment to comprehensive support, guiding students as they pursue their goals, illustrated by four core principles:  

I-Promise opens doors for high-achievers, enabling them to realize their ambitions.  

The university pledges a supportive academic environment, matched by students’ dedication to pushing their intellectual boundaries.  

I-Promise Scholars connect with their peers and classmates, enriching their campus experience through mutual support and involvement.  

I-Promise Scholars maximize their Illinois experience, showing appreciation, and in turn, paying forward the support they have received.  

Thanks to the commitment of over a thousand donors, I-Promise has continued to offer recipients invaluable growth opportunities, including academic advising, professional development, and a range of social, academic, and service-oriented activities.  


I-Promise welcomes students from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines, with a substantial majority of Scholars proudly identifying as first-generation students. Throughout the academic year 2022-2023, the program extended its support to over 1500 undergraduate students, making an impact across all academic colleges.  

Number of Students served by ILLINOIS PROMISE over the years


In a landscape where the cost of living continues to rise, ensuring accessible higher education remains a top priority at Illinois. I-Promise serves as a dedicated solution, designed to empower students facing the most pressing financial challenges. To qualify for the I-Promise scholarship, a student’s household income must be at or below the federal poverty level, among other criteria.  

While numerous I-Promise Scholars qualify for federal and state aid, along with additional grants, they often face expenses that go beyond these forms of aid and any potential earnings from on-campus employment. The I-Promise scholarship addresses these hurdles by guaranteeing an all-encompassing financial aid package that extends to cover room and board, as well as essentials like books and supplies.  

Your giving truly makes the difference in empowering our Scholars to cover the entirety of expenses that often go unaccounted for by other aid programs. By supporting I-Promise, you are ensuring their access to a complete university education.  


Average annual I-Promise funding

*based on data from the last four years


Average annual I-Promise award per student

*based on data from the last four years


I-Promise thrives because of donors like you, and words could never fully express our gratitude for your generosity. Together, with over 1,000 other donors, your role extends beyond financial aid; it’s about creating a comprehensive community of support that paves the way for a brighter future for those eager to learn.  

Why I Give
Betsy and Pete Nassos

We are both University of Illinois graduates and we met when we were sophomores.  In many ways, the university and the people we met there helped us prepare for the many personal and professional challenges and opportunities that we would face during our lives. For that, Orange and Blue has flowed through our veins since the first day we stepped on campus. We take great pride in supporting Illinois Promise, because it gives us the opportunity to give back to the university that we dearly love. It is also a chance to help current students to experience what we did during our four years on campus and work towards achieving their dreams and goals. 


Joe Pedott holding a Chia Pet

This year, we lost long-time Illinois Promise supporter Joe Pedott (MEDIA ’55). A proud Illinois alumnus and trailblazer in the marketing field, Joe never forgot those who supported him on his path to success, and frequently returned to Illinois to speak with I-Promise students and share his story. His legacy of support lives on through the Joseph Pedott Illinois Promise Program Fund. 

In many ways, Joe Pedott’s support for Illinois Promise is immeasurable. He was such a special part of our program, not because he himself was an Illinois Promise Scholar, but because his own lived experiences paralleled that of many of our students. Like so many Scholars, Mr. Pedott overcame incredible life challenges to make it to the University of Illinois, succeed academically and graduate, moving on to realize success across its many definitions, and to so generously give back to students with similar backgrounds, helping them to realize the transformation that comes with an Illinois undergraduate degree. Joe Pedott was the epitome of persistence and resilience and he has left an indelible mark on the University of Illinois and on Illinois Promise specifically. Hearing his story and understanding his desire to give back was always inspirational. We will miss him, but the ripple effect of his generosity lives on and I have no doubts that our Scholars will continue to make him proud. 


Joe Pedott’s 5 Rules for Success 

1. “Believe in yourself.” 

2. “Never lie. If you don’t want someone to know something, say ‘None of your business.’” 

3. “Know the price. Work and put in the effort.” 

4. “If you have an idea, follow through on it.” 

5. “Failure is a strength in you. When I do something wrong, I allow myself 48 hours to cry over it, and then I get up and kick butt.” 


In addition to providing financial assistance, I-Promise includes academic and social support during Scholars’ entire time at Illinois. Beginning their first week on campus with a welcome orientation hosted by Chancellor Jones, Scholars are invited to community-building social events and gatherings where they can engage with staff and peers. I-Promise also offers all recipients regular individualized coaching from the I-Promise staff. 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the support offerings from 2022-23: 

Over 250 new Scholars met with us in Foellinger Auditorium for a discussion about I-Promise: the scholarship, the support program, and the Illinois Promise community that exists on our campus. Following the orientation, Chancellor Jones led Scholars to the Illini Union for the Chancellor’ Luncheon, where new Scholars had a great lunch, received Illinois swag, and began bonding as a community.  

Hundreds of Scholars attended in-person events including a fall Kick-Off picnic, a Halloween party at La Casa, a catered Thanksgiving dinner, a Dance/Glow party at the Illini Union, an ice skating event, a Business Etiquette Dinner, experienced an escape room exercise, and celebrated the end of the semester with a very special magic show. 

Scholars were invited to take part in the annual Illinois Promise Business Etiquette Dinner; gather for a wellness/mindfulness flower pot painting gathering; and coordinate a clothing drive service event.  

Scholars were invited to have a professional photo taken by a photographer from Illinois Public Affairs to enhance their online professional presence.  

In mid-April, Scholars, guests, and campus stakeholders gathered to celebrate our award-winning students and alums, and to recognize our graduating seniors. Scholar awards were given based on leadership, service, academic achievements, and enthusiasm for the overall Illinois Promise program. Approximately 100 of our graduating Scholars earned Illinois Promise Distinction, having achieved cumulative GPAs of 3.5 and higher. 


On campus, I-Promise Scholars demonstrate the power of a tight-knit cohort. Their dedication to academic excellence and community underscores their gratitude for the opportunities donors like you have made possible.  

“This program is just so much more than just a scholarship. It’s a community, it’s support systems, it’s resources. And this program has given me one hundred percent the ability for me to just focus on school and be a normal student, and it’s wonderful. Through Illinois Promise, I don’t ever have to worry about how I’m going to pay for rent, how I’m going to pay tuition, how I’m going to pay for my groceries. All that is covered by this amazing program. It’s more than just a scholarship. It’s a community. It’s a support system. It’s the ability to get an education without having the financial stresses and burdens that would come from it. This program means everything to me. And I’m so grateful.”



“For me, this program has been the biggest blessing. I vividly remember getting the email that said I had qualified for this program. It was honestly one of the happiest days of my life, and I will never forget it because it meant that I got to attend this school with the most amazing community, the best professors, and the most interesting classes, all covered by this Illinois Promise program. And I’m so grateful. One of the best things about Illinois Promise is having coaches who are always there willing to listen and lend a helping hand. Being a first-generation student is very scary. College is already a very stressful time for anyone, so having someone there who’s been through this experience, who has gone through this process, and is there to help you, to support you, is amazing.”




“I give to Illinois Promise because I was a first-generation college student, and it’s that connection that makes it special. It’s my responsibility to nurture and support the future generations of leaders. This program makes me proud that I can support a student in the same position I was in when I went to Illinois.”



“I give to Illinois Promise because I was a first-generation college student, and it’s that connection that makes it special. It’s my responsibility to nurture and support the future generations of leaders. This program makes me proud that I can support a student in the same position I was in when I went to Illinois.”