Donating to a Tax Credit Scholarship

What are tax credit scholarships?

The Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program, “Invest in Kids,” provides a 75 percent Illinois state income tax credit to individuals and corporations that contribute money to a non-profit Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO). The SGOs award scholarships to eligible students from low-income families. Donors will use money already owed to the state (taxes) and donate it to a needs-based scholarships instead, all while receiving a 75 percent state tax credit.
Through this program:

  • An individual or corporation will receive a 75 percent credit on donations to an SGO. For example, if a person donates $100,000, they will receive a state tax credit of $75,000.
  • Individual donors can designate their donations to Universal School.
  • The credit can be rolled over for five years.
  • Donors are prohibited from receiving a federal tax deduction for these donations.
  • The program is capped at $100 million in donations, resulting in $75 million in total tax credits issued.

What is the process for donating?
Beginning on January 2, 2018, individual and corporate donors will be able to reserve tax credits through by following these steps:

  1. Set up an account at This site will have the credit application on January 2.
    • CLICK HERE for step-by-step instructions on how to request a letter ID.
    • CLICK HERE for step-by-step instructions on how to activate your my tax account.
  2. Apply for a tax credit on as soon as the application is open on the website. Donors will need to provide at least the following information (a complete list will be provided once available):
    • Social Security Number
    • Personal (or company) name and contact information
    • Name of SGO to which he/she plans to donate (Note: The SGO of choice for Universal School is Empower Illinois)
    • Amount he/she plans to donate
    • Region to which he/she plans to donate
  3. Donate to an SGO within 60 days of application being approved (Note: The SGO of choice for Universal School is Empower Illinois).
    • Designate the donation to Universal School
  4. Provide certificate from the SGO to use tax credit when filing a 2018 return in 2019.

Strong interest may cause the cap to be reached within minutes of opening, as has happened in other states offering similar programs.

Interested in donating?
We are here to guide you through the process. Please contact us at to speak with the Tax Credit Scholarship Office at Universal School.

For additional information, please see the Tax Credit Scholarship, Applying for a Tax Credit Scholarship, Frequently Asked Questions, Tax Credit Scholarship Eligibility, and More Information pages.