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On August 31, 2017 the Illinois Legislature approved the Invest in Kids Act, which created an income based tax scholarship program to allow low income students more choices in education. These K-12 scholarships are based on financial need, not how well a child does in school. With this new legislation, families are able to choose to enroll in a non-public (private) school with scholarship money available for tuition and necessary fees starting on January 1, 2018.
Families that earn 300% of the federal poverty level or less are eligible for scholarship funds. Priority will be given to students who are members of a household whose previous year’s total annual income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level.
The amount of the scholarship a student is eligible for is based on the following income levels:
- Families with income at 185% of the poverty level or below are eligible for 100% of tuition and necessary fees
- Families with income that is between 185% and 250%of the poverty level are eligible for 75% of tuition and necessary fees
- Families with income that is between 250% and 300% of the poverty level are eligible for 50% of the tuition and necessary fees
*All amounts are capped at the current year statewide average expense per student (In 2017 the amount is $12, 280)
Eligibility Grid (for 2017)
|Household size||Maximum Annual Incomeof 185%||Maximum Annual Income between 185% – 250%||Maximum Annual Income
between 251% – 300%
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do I apply for this scholarship?
The application process is still being developed at this time. It is anticipated that information on how to apply will be available in late Fall 2017.
- Will I be able to pick any school that I want?
You may choose any private or non-public school that is accredited by the State of Illinois. All of the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Rockford are accredited schools.
- What do I do first if I decide to apply for a scholarship?
In order to apply for a tax scholarship, you must first apply to and be accepted by the school of your choice. So the first step would be to contact the school and get information on the application and registration process.
- Who will be responsible for determining who gets the scholarship money?
The scholarship applications and the selection of recipients will all go through a scholarship granting organization (SGO) that is currently being formed. This agency will use the guidelines given from the State of Illinois to determine if an applicant meets the requirements and who receives the tax scholarships. When this information is available, we will update this post.
- When is the earliest date I can apply for a scholarship?
Scholarship applications can start on January 1st through the scholarship granting organization. Once this information is available (late Fall) we will update this post.
- Do I have to know in January that I want to apply for a scholarship? I’m not sure I will be ready by then to make a decision.
No. Scholarship applications will continue to be accepted until the scholarship money available is given out. However, the sooner a decision is made, the more likely you will be able to receive any funds that may be available.
- How much money in scholarships will be available?
Since the scholarships are based on the amount of donations made to the scholarship granting organization, it is hard to know how much money will be available to families. However, the law provides for a 75% tax credit on donations until the State reaches the maximum of $75 million in tax credits. If all of the available tax credits are issued, it would mean $100 million in scholarships for lower income families.
- Will the money be restricted based on anything, such as geography?
Yes. The law states that the money must be distributed throughout the entire state in proportion with non-public school enrollment. Meaning that areas that have more private (non-public) schools should get a bigger percentage of the funding than areas with a few private (non-public) schools.
- What will I have to provide in order to be considered for a scholarship?
Families will need to give “official documentation” of their income to the scholarship granting organization. We assume this will mean the prior year’s tax returns, but a determination has not yet been made on what will qualify as official documentation.
Last Update: Oct. 12, 2017