State of Illinois Scholarship Information

Below is some information about the State of Illinois scholarship program. While we strive to keep the information on this page up to date, we strongly recommend that you to visit the Empower Illinois and Big Shoulders web sites for the most current up-to-date information.

Also, please feel free to contact our school at 708-385-8776 or at info@stchrisschool.org if you have questions. We encourage all prospective families to visit us so that we can explain the details of this process individually to you.

Who can get a State of Illinois Scholarship?

To be eligible for a scholarship, your family’s adjusted gross income must be less than 300% of the federal poverty level and your child must in kindergarten through 8th grade.

How much do the State of Illinois Scholarships cover?

The State of Illinois scholarships cover between 50% and 100% of your tuition and fees, based on your family’s income. The amount of the scholarship depends upon your family’s income according to the chart below. (See State of Illinois Invest in Kids page for details)

Family Adjusted Gross Income
Persons in Household Below 185% of Poverty Level:
Scholarships up to 100% of tuition & fees
Below 250% of Poverty Level:
Scholarships up to 75% of tuition & fees
Below 300% of Poverty Level:
Scholarships up to 50% of tuition & fees
2 $31,284 $42,275 $50,730
3 $39,461 $53,325 $63,990
4 $47,638 $64,375 $77,250
5 $55,815 $75,425 $90,510
6 $63,992 $86,475 $103,770

How is it decided who gets a State of Illinois Scholarship?

If you live in certain school districts, you get first priority in the application process. Within this group, scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Last year, the number of families applying for scholarships far outstripped the number of scholarships that were available. Thus, it is crucial that you apply for a scholarship as soon as possible (within minutes) once the application process begins!.

How do I apply for a State of Illinois Scholarship?

There are two organizations granting these scholarships, and we strongly recommends you complete TWO scholarship applications, one for each organization: Empower Illinois and The Big Shoulders Fund.

When is the first day that I submit an application?

Below are the start dates for the two scholarship granting organizations. It is critically important that you apply for your scholarship as close as possible (within minutes) of the start of the application process!

Empower Illinois:
Web site: empowerillinois.org/apply
Application start date: Wednesday, January 13, 2021, at 6:30pm Details of Empower Illinois application process

The Big Shoulders Fund:
Web site: www.bigshouldersfundsgo.org/how-to-apply
Application start date: Tuesday, January 12, 2021, at 8:00am

What is the Empower Illinois' application process?

Empower Illinois has a two-part application process:

  • Step 1: Complete a brief reservation form, which timestamps your application, beginning January 13 at 6:30pm
    • At 6:30 pm, enter your information (page 1 of application)
      • Parent name and student(s) names
      • Contact info – address, phone number, email address
    • At 7:00 pm, submit your information (page 2 of application)
  • Step 2: In January ,you will be notified by email when part two of the application opens.
    • You can complete at your convenience, but this must be done by January 27.
    • You will need two types of documents to complete Step 2:
      1. Proof of Address – ONE of following with current address:
        Illinois driver’s license, ID card, utility bill, WIC/SNAP statement, W-2, or Federal Tax Form (1040)
      2. Proof of your household income – ONE of following:
        2018 Federal Tax Return (pages 1 & 2), W-2, 1099s, Year-end pay stub, or letter, from employer indicating cash wages paid
Note that it is critical that you complete Step 1 as close to January 13, 6:30pm as possible! This step assigns you your place in line, and scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The earlier you complete it, the better your chances - seconds matter! If you don’t complete it within 5 minutes after it opens, chances of getting a scholarship are greatly decreased.

What is Big Shoulders' application process?

Big Shoulders has a one-step application process, beginning on Tuesday, January 12 at 8am. Note that it is critical that you complete this step as close to January 14, 8am as possible!

You will need two types of documents to complete the Big Shoulders application process

  1. Proof of Address – ONE of following with current address:
    Illinois driver’s license, State ID card, utility bill, or renter's agreement
  2. Proof of your household income – ONE of following:
    Federal Tax 1040 forms for all members of the household, OR verified statement from website signed by parent/guardian that not tax returns were filed

I have a specific question about the Empowered Illinois or Big Shoulders application process. How can I get it answered?

Also, please feel free to contact our school at 708-385-8776 or at info@stchrisschool.org if you have questions. We encourage all prospective families to visit us so that we can explain the details of this process individually to you.

If I do not get a State of Illinois Scholarship, what other financial aid is available

For families who do not get a State of Illinois Scholarship, we also have Caritas scholarships, from the Archdiocese of Chicago, and St. Christopher Parish scholarships. These scholarships do not cover as much of the tuition and fees as does a State of Illinois scholarship. Further information can be found on our financial aid page.