Most LGBTQ Friendly University
UIS was ranked the #3 “Most LGBTQ-Friendly” college/university in the country in 2018 by Affordable Colleges Online! You can view the ranking here. This ranking is due to the LGBTQIA+ services/programs, inclusive policies, trainings, scholarships we provide to peer educators, all coinciding with a lower cost of attendance.
Our retention and support services include our programs for new students and those that are out and proud. If you are a new student, still exploring your sexual or gender identities, or want to converse with other LGBTQIA+ students in a structured supportive environment, you can look forward to our Mentor Program and support groups like Fluidity and Shades or the LGBTea Weekly Social. High impact programs for everyone and those that are out loud and proud include annual events that are now part of our campus culture such as the Closet Door on the Quad, Day of Silence, and the Lavender Graduation Celebration. Our Safe Zone program provides training workshops that educate everyone, including cisgender or heterosexual allies, on campus to engage in brave discussions to decrease homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism.
In addition to our educational initiatives outside the classroom, we are constantly assessing ways to make our policies and procedures more inclusive. All students can use a preferred name on Campus ID, for class roster, and internal campus documentation. Students living on campus can choose a LGBTQIA+ friendly roommate and request to live with them or request gender neutral housing. Many of our institutional assessments use gender and sexuality inclusive demographic questions so we can accurately understand our student population. The application for admission asks a voluntary gender inclusive demographic questions and will soon ask for sexual orientation.
These inclusive policies and operating procedures are part of our value system. At UIS we uphold values that are Leadership Lived and our student peer educators in the Inqueery: Peers Providing Queer Answers program are emblematic of that aim. As peer educators, this team visits classrooms and residence halls upon request to facilitate games and activities that educate about sexuality and gender with emphasis on LGBTQIA+ topics. We offer scholarships to these peer educators because they provide an educational service to the university that helps to offset the financial burden of their education.
Some recent studies are showing that LGBTQIA+ students carry a larger debt load and regret it more than their heterosexual/cisgender peers. There are many reasons for this which are explained in the articles linked below. If you are looking for a great university that will welcome who you are and cost less than the others, consider UIS.
This article helps to explain the financial issues that pertain to the LGBTQ student population during their education and what the debt means afterward.
This article from The Advocate (the oldest LGBTQ magazine still in publication) reports on analysis of student load debt for LGBT and heterosexual students.