Applying for a Tax Credit Scholarship

Applying for a Tax Credit Scholarship

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: Students from low-income households in grades K-12 have the opportunity to receive tax credit scholarships for the 2018/19 school year. These scholarships are funded by donors who receive a credit on their Illinois state income tax as a result of their donation.

Application process: You will need to apply for tax credit scholarships through a scholarship granting organization (SGO), which will manage this process, instead of Universal School or your school directly. There will likely be several SGOs in Illinois. Universal School has chosen Empower Illinois as its preferred SGO. Empower Illinois is a trusted partner with experienced employees who have managed a similar scholarship process in Florida. School families are free to apply for scholarships through multiple SGOs. The application process with Empower Illinois will be completed online at The applications process may open as early as January 2, 2018, or possibly later in January.

What you need to apply: We will secure from the SGOs a list of all of the necessary documents families will need to apply for a tax credit scholarship as soon as it is available. In the meantime, based on what we know today, we believe families will need the following documents in order to apply for a tax credit scholarship:

  • 2016 tax return
  • Proof of residency (i.e. driver’s license or state ID)
  • Birth certificate or passport for student

Help applying: You will be able to get help applying for the scholarship in-person at a variety of events in your community in the coming months. Universal School will share the dates and locations of these events as these details are finalized. For families whose first language is not English, we will have in-person resources available to help you through the application process.

Application deadline: The deadline for submitting applications is still being determined. Universal School will provide more information as soon as it is available. Scholarships will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, so it is very important that when the application process begins, you apply early.

How to qualify: Eligibility to receive a scholarship is based on your family’s household income. For example, a student could receive a scholarship if his/her family income is less than $73,800 a year for a family of four. See chart below for more information on eligibility for tax credit scholarships or click here.

Scholarship amount: Your family could receive a scholarship that covers up to 100 percent of tuition and eligible fees for next school year.

See the chart below that shows how much you could receive to cover tuition based on your income for a family of four.

Household Income Per Year (Family of Four)

Eligible Scholarship Amount

Less than $45,510

100 percent of tuition


75 percent of tuition


50 percent of tuition

To learn more, please visit universal or contact us at

*Scholarships may NOT exceed $12,973, the 2018/19 statewide average public school cost for K-12 students.
For additional information, please see the Donating to a Tax Credit Scholarship, Applying to Tax Credit Scholarship, Frequently Asked Questions, Tax Credit Scholarship Eligibility, and More Information pages.