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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 (For 2018-2019 the amount is $12, 973)
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 by December. We will include a link on this webpage when the website is able to be accessed. The applications will not be able to be filed until after December 31st, but we are not sure exactly what day it will open at this time.
- 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. To see a list of our schools in your area click: Elementary Schools High Schools
- What do I do first if I decide to apply for a scholarship?
You do not need to be accepted to a school in order to apply for a scholarship, however, we encourage you to visit your local Catholic School for a tour and information on the registration process. You will also need a copy of your 2016 tax information (if you are required to file a tax return) in order to complete your application. Locating and having electronic copies of these documents would be a good first step.
- 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. Applicants will be treated in a first come, first served manner once eligibility is determined. Getting your application completed quickly will be important.
- When is the earliest date I can apply for a scholarship?
Scholarship applications can start on January 1st through the scholarship granting organization (SGO). Once the SGO information is available (hopefully by December) 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.
Most of the schools in the Diocese of Rockford fall into Region 2 as defined by the Illinois Department of Revenue. Sterling and Rock Falls fall into Region 3. Region 2 has 23.09% of the tax credits allocated to it. Region 3 has 9.97% of the tax credits allotted. This means that approximately $17.3 million in tax credits will be available to Region 2 donors and $7.4 million will be allocated to Region 3.
- 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 know this year it will mean the 2016 tax information, but a determination has not yet been made on what will qualify as official documentation. There will also be a way for families to apply that are not required to file taxes due to income.
Last Update: November 17, 2017