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Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship

Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship


The Illinois Invest in Kids Act, passed by the Illinois state legislature, was designed to create a more equitable formula for school funding. Through the program, scholarships are awarded to families with income-eligible households who choose to enroll their children at private schools including Marian Catholic. Funding for the scholarships is generated through a provision that allows individuals and corporations to donate to Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) in return for a 75% credit against their state taxes.

Visit the Illinois Invest in Kids website.


Students with limited financial resources and income up to 300% of the federal poverty level are eligible to receive tax credit scholarships. Returning tax credit scholarship recipients can make up to 400% of the federal poverty level. The scholarships offered through the program have the potential to cover 50%, 75%, or 100% of tuition and eligible fees depending on household income.

A document highlighting the key elements of the scholarship program, including a chart outlining qualifying income levels, is available via the following links:



The Archdiocese of Chicago has also compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Tax Credit Scholarships.

Scholarship applications are made through the following Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) who distribute the scholarships:

Families are encouraged to apply to both the Empower Illinois and Big Shoulders SGO to increase their scholarship opportunities.

Prior to April 1, 2019, priority will be given to students from each of the following categories:

  • Members of a household whose previous year’s total annual income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level ($46,435 for a family of four); OR
  • Reside within a focus district*;OR
  • Received a scholarship from a scholarship granting organization during the previous school year; OR
  • Siblings of a current scholarship recipient.

After April 1, 2019, all other qualifying students will be considered for scholarships, subject to availability of funds. Note: Families who received a tax credit scholarship for 2018-19, must reapply for 2019-20.

*Focus districts are public school districts that have a school where at least one subgroup of students performs in the bottom 10% statewide or a graduation rate of less than 60 percent. See the list of focus districts as determined by the Illinois State Board of Education.

What you need to apply:
Families will need proof of Illinois residency and your adjusted gross income to apply for tax credit scholarships. Choose your most recent household income documents from the same year to use throughout the application. You will also need a valid email address (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.)

Empower Illinois Application Process and Key Dates
The Empower Illinois tax credit scholarship application is a two-step process:

Step 1: On Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 7 p.m., families will complete a brief reservation form on Empower Illinois’ website – – that timestamps the reservation. This is a critical step as the timestamp will impact a family’s chances of receiving a scholarship.

The reservation form will ask you for the following information:

  • Parent name
  • Contact information (address, phone number, email address)
  • Child(ren) name(s)

Step 2: Beginning on or about Friday, January 18, 2019, families must complete the full scholarship application through the Empower Illinois online student portal. They will receive instructions via email about setting up a student portal after the reservation process has been completed. Empower Illinois will begin awarding scholarships on Monday, January 28, 2019. Scholarship awards are subject to the availability of funds for the school of choice. Applications should be submitted before Monday, January 28, to increase the chance of receiving a scholarship.

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

Big Shoulders Fund Application Process and Key Date

The Big Shoulders Fund SGO will follow a similar one-step application process as last year. Applications open on Tuesday, January 22 at 8 a.m.

Note: The Big Shoulders Fund SGO will be available in English and Spanish.

More detailed information about how to apply for a Tax Credit Scholarship can be found on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic Schools website at

Initial Impact

The Illinois Invest in Kids Program has already been a tremendous benefit to Marian Catholic students. This year, 33 of our students were granted full or partial scholarships totaling over $300,000. Over 300 eligible students remain on a wait list pending additional funding. We’re working diligently to increase donations to the program to provide additional tuition assistance to more families.

Specific questions regarding the Tax Credit Scholarships can be directed to Sr. Judine Hilbing, OP, Director of Scholarships/Tuition Assistance at 708-996-4624 or