Applying for a Tax Credit Scholarship

What You Need to Know About the “Invest in Kids” Tax Credit Scholarships

Through the “Invest in Kids Act,” Illinois children from low-income households who want to attend private schools will have access to new scholarships. The scholarships offered through this program could cover up to 100 percent of tuition and eligible fees for next school year. Below is more information about how to apply and details on eligibility requirements.

TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS

Through the “Invest in Kids Act,” tax credit scholarships are available to Illinois children, in grades K-12, from low-income households who want to attend private schools, including our 199 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago. If you received a tax credit scholarship this year (2020/21 school year), you must reapply for a tax credit scholarship for next year (2021/22 school year).

APPLICATION PROCESS

EMPOWER ILLINOIS SGO

Application Process and Key Dates

The Empower Illinois tax credit scholarship application is a two-step process:

Step 1: On Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 6:30 p.m., you will have access to a brief reservation form on Empower Illinois’ website – EmpowerIllinois.org. You will be able to submit the reservation form at 7 p.m., this timestamps your reservation. This is a critical step as your timestamp matters and may impact your chances of receiving a scholarship. You will want to submit this form right at 7 p.m. Seconds matter.

The reservation form will ask you for the following information:

  • Parent name

  • Contact information – address, phone number, email address

  • Child(ren) name(s)***

***Please note: All children you would like to apply for need to be listed on the reservation form. 

For more information, visit EmpowerIllinois.org.

Step 2: Beginning on or about Friday, January 15, 2021, you may complete the full scholarship application through the Empower Illinois online student portal. You will receive instructions via email about setting up your student portal after your reservation has been completed (step 1). Empower Illinois will begin awarding scholarships on Friday, January 29, 2021. Scholarship awards are subject to the availability of funds at your school of choice. We recommend you submit your application before Monday, January 25 to increase your chances of receiving a scholarship.

Please note: The Empower Illinois application will be available in English, Spanish and Polish.

For more information, visit EmpowerIllinois.org.

BIG SHOULDERS FUND SGO

Application Process and Key Date

The Big Shoulders Fund SGO application will be a two-step process this year. Step-one will open on Tuesday, January 12 at 8 a.m. CT. In the first step, applicants will complete the online application with all household and student information and receive their date-time stamp.

After January 15, Big Shoulders Fund will reach out to a limited number of applicants, via email, requesting applicants to complete step-two of the process by submitting documentation to verify income and residence. Not all applicants will be asked to complete step-two. While step-one does not require uploading of documents, applicants do need to have their most recent federal tax return or other required proof of income on hand to accurately report their adjusted gross income. More information and an application how-to guide can be found on Big Shoulders Fund’s website bigshouldersfundsgo.org.

Step-two applicants will be asked to submit proof of residence and proof of income. Proof of Illinois Residence and current address (one of the following for the household):

  • Illinois driver’s license with current address

  • Illinois identification card (issued by the Secretary of State) with current address

  • Utility bill with name and current address

  • Residential lease (current address) in the parent’s name

    Proof of Adjusted Gross Income (for all adult household members):

  • Most recent Federal 1040 tax return, page 1 showing Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on line 8b Sworn Statement - If you did NOT file taxes and do not plan on filing taxes, Big Shoulders Fund requires that all adult household members complete and sign a sworn statement that your taxes were not filed and attach proof of income. This sworn statement can be found on Big Shoulders Fund’s website: bigshouldersfundsgo.org/apply.

  • Sworn Statement Proof of Income: W-2s, 1099s, Unemployment, SNAP or SSI benefit statements  and any other proof of additional income received.


WHAT YOU NEED TO APPLY

Information on what you need to apply is detailed below. You may also review these checklists (available in English and Spanish).  You need proof of Illinois residency and your adjusted gross income to apply for tax credit scholarships. Choose your most recent household and income documents from the same year to use throughout your application. 

Proof of Illinois Residence (one of the following for the household):

  • Federal Form 1040 with name and current address

  • Illinois driver’s license with current address

  • Illinois identification card (issued by the Secretary of State) with current address

  • Utility bill with name and current address

  • Statement of benefits from WIC or SNAP with name and current address

  • W-2 or 1099 with name and current address

  • Residential lease (current address) in the parent’s name

Adjusted Gross Income (one of the following for the household):

·      Federal tax return, pages 1 and 2 OR in the event applicant does not file taxes: 

Empower Illinois will accept the following alternative means of income verification: 

  • W-2

  • 1099(s)

  • Year-end pay stub

  • Letter, on company letterhead, from employer(s) indicating cash wages paid

  • Statement of WIC or SNAP benefits.

Big Shoulders Fund requires a sworn statement to be uploaded in the application and will follow up to obtain acceptable means of income verification after the application is submitted.

Valid Email Address (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.) - This email address will be used for all communications to applicant by both Empower Illinois and Big Shoulders SGOs. It is important to use an email that is frequently checked. 

For more information, visit bigshouldersfundsgo.org.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has team members available to assist you with the tax credit scholarship application process. To learn more, please visit archchicago.org/tcs or contact the archdiocese at investinkids@archchicago.org or 312.534.5321.