Three Things You Need to Know about Illinois’ New Scholarship Program

It is easy to feel overwhelmed from “information overload” trying to understand what Illinois’ new Invest in Kids Act pilot program could mean for you and your family. Many of the questions we are hearing from families center around three main topics, explained below.

1)    What is a tax credit scholarship?

A tax credit scholarship is a scholarship given to a student that is funded by a tax payer’s donation. Donors and families will work with a non-profit Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) to donate and apply. The video below is a starting point for understanding what a tax credit scholarship is.

Tax Credit Scholarship Video

2)    Who is eligible?

This year, students will be eligible for scholarships for the 2018-2019 school year if their household earns less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level (that’s $73,800 for a household of four.)

Scholarships will be awarded on a sliding scale and it will depend on how much a family earns. The table below illustrates how much an eligible family would pay if they received a tax credit scholarship for a school with tuition and fees of $5,000 a year.


3)    When and how can my family apply?

Families must submit an application directly to an SGO. Each SGO will establish its own application process. There will likely be several SGOs operating in the state.

SGOs may begin accepting applications and grant scholarships as soon as they are approved as an SGO (SGOs can begin applying for their status on December 1st) and the application process will stay open as long as SGOs have available scholarship funds.

The Illinois Department of Revenue recently released a bulletin with details about the program which may answer some of your questions. 

We anticipate that Big Shoulders Fund will participate as a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO).  Big Shoulders Fund is uniquely positioned to do so given that we are already the largest preK-12 scholarship provider in Chicago. We invite you to learn more about Big Shoulders Fund and our schools as you prepare for the application process.

As we learn more about the program, we will continue to provide more information.