How to Apply for a State Scholarship
Who is eligible to receive a scholarship?
Students from families with limited financial resources are eligible to receive a tax credit scholarship. To be considered for a scholarship, students must be from a household with income below 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($73,800 for family of four). Priority will be given to:
Students from households that are below 185 percent of the federal poverty level ($45,510 for family of four).
Students who reside in a focus district
Siblings of scholarship students.
Scholarships are available for eligible students in kindergarten through 12th grade and if awarded will be applied to the student’s tuition fees. Beginning in 2019, priority will be given to renewals of previous year scholarship recipients.
In addition, the student:
Must be eligible to attend a public elementary school or high school in Illinois in the semester immediately preceding the semester for which he or she first receives a scholarship.
Please click here for more information.
When can students apply for a tax credit scholarship?
The application process for the 2020-21 school year is closed.
Students scholarship application process for the 2021-22 school year is open from Tuesday, December 1, 2020 through Friday, January 15, 2021. Families should apply as early as possible since scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. This program will continue for at least another three years (based on the current law).
How do student/families apply for the Illinois tax scholarship program?
The application process with Empower Illinois will be completed online at www.empowerillinois.org. For steps on how to complete the application, click here.
What do students/families need for the application?
After submitting the form with the name(s) of your child(ren), you will receive a confirmation code. Wait to receive an email link to your unique application where you will complete it and upload all required documents. Please note that only one reservation and application are allowed per family even if you are applying for several students.
You will have 3 days to complete your application once your link has been sent. Please keep the following documents readily available as they will need to be uploaded into your application.
- Adjusted Gross income- Choose a year and submit all household and income documents. Do not mix household information between 2019 and 2017.
- Federal Tax Return (2016 or 2017)
- W-2 (2016 or 2017)
- 1099/s (2016 or 2017 if applicable)
- Year-end pay stub (2016 or 2017)
- Letter, on Letterhead from employer(s) indicating cash wages paid (2016 or 2017 if applicable)
- Proof of Illinois residency (e.g. Driver’s License, State ID, Utility bill)
- Documentation of the Student(s) age (e.g. Birth Certificate, Federal or State ID, Passport)
- Enrollment or acceptance letter from IFS for the 2020-21 year- This document is optional at the time of the application, but will be required prior to the student receiving scholarship dollars.
Note: There may be changes to this list as the application process is finalized by the SGOs. We will provide updates as they are available.
How much money can students receive through a tax credit scholarship?
Scholarship amounts will vary based on the student’s household income and be limited to the lower of actual tuition and fees for the student’s school, or the statewide average expense per student among public schools (currently $12,280). Students from households that are lower than 185 percent of the federal poverty level receive 100 percent of tuition and eligible fees. Students from households that are 185 percent to 250 percent of the federal poverty level will receive 75 percent of tuition and eligible fees through the scholarships. Students from households that are 250 percent to 300 percent of the federal poverty level will receive 50 percent of tuition and eligible fees through the scholarship.
When will students/families be notified if they have been granted a scholarship?
Empower Illinois will be responsible for notifying families. The law presently requires this SGO to process applications received before April 1st and within ten business days of receipt. The law does not impose an application processing deadline for applications received after April 1st. However, we would anticipate that the processing timelines will be similar for all applications.
How is a scholarship payment made?
Empower Illinois will manage the scholarship payments. The law presently requires distribution scholarship payments directly to the qualified school where the student is enrolled. We will share more information on this process as soon as it is available.
Do students need to be accepted to a school before they can apply for a scholarship?
This is still being determined, but we expect that the process will require earlier application to schools than has been the practice in the past. We will share more information as soon as it is available.