FAQ’s for 2019-2020 Application
How do I apply for a Big Shoulders Fund Tax Credit Scholarship?
Online applications for the Big Shoulders Fund Tax Credit Scholarship open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, January 22, 2019. On and after January 22, you can follow the application link to apply.
You will need to have on hand:
· Proof of household income:
o 1040s for all members of the household, or
o Verified statement from our website signed by parent/guardian that not tax returns were filed (additional proof of income may be requested).
· Proof of address:
o State issued ID/License,
o Lease/deed, or
o Utility bill
We will update this closer to the application date with a sample application and further instructions.
How do I know if I am eligible for a tax credit scholarship?
Students who are residents of the state of Illinois and have limited household incomes (see Household Income Eligibility Chart) are eligible for the Illinois Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Big Shoulders Fund is a registered Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and authorized to award scholarships in Region 1 and Region 2. If you reside outside of Region 1 and 2, please check the Illinois Department of Revenue website for a list of approved SGOs.
Keep in mind that eligibility is not a guarantee of award. Scholarships will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis primarily according to family income and residence as determined by state law. Furthermore, even eligible families may be placed on a waiting list based on our funding capacity. You may apply to multiple SGOs to increase your chances of obtaining a scholarship, though you can only accept one scholarship.
What School(s) can I apply for a Tax Credit Scholarship?
Applicants my only select one school (per child) to apply for when completing the application. Applicants can select any qualified school, which are any non-public school located in Illinois and recognized by the by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), or a school that is registered and becomes recognized by ISBE prior to June 30th. The current list of all qualified schools can be found here. We anticipate that a large portion of our funding will be donor restricted to our Big Shoulders Fund schools, however we will be glad to receive applicants for any qualified non-public school in Region 1 and Region 2.
If my student received a tax credit scholarship for the 2018/2019 school year, do we need to reapply?
Yes, the tax credit scholarship is not automatically renewable. Everyone must reapply each year and scholarships will be awarded primarily on a first come, first serve basis. See below for more information.
How do you determine which students are granted priority status for the scholarships?
Priority for the tax credit scholarship is given to;
· Eligible students who are currently receiving a scholarship from any tax credit scholarship,
· Eligible students who are siblings of students who are currently receiving any tax credit scholarship,
· Eligible students who are members of a household whose previous year’s total annual income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level, and
· Eligible students who reside within a focus district.
Please note: these four categories receive the same weight for priority. No one category means more than another.
Such priority applications will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible families, according to funding availability. You must apply prior to April 1, 2019 to receive any priority. After April 1, 2019, scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to all eligible families as funding is available.
How much will the scholarship cover?
Depending on your household income, eligible students may receive a scholarship that covers between 50 to 100 percent of tuition and eligible fees. Students whose household income is below 185 percent of the federal poverty level (e.g., $46,434 for a family of four) are eligible for 100 percent of qualifying tuition and eligible fees. Students whose household income is between 185 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level (e.g., between $46,435 and $62,749 for a family of four) are eligible to receive up to 75 percent of qualifying tuition and eligible fees. Those students whose household income is between 250 and 300 percent of the federal poverty level (e.g., between (62,750 and 75,300) qualify for a scholarship that covers up to 50 percent of qualifying tuition and eligible fees.
If my child does not currently attend a qualified non-public school, can we apply?
Yes! New students whose family income and/or residence qualifies them for the tax credit scholarship are eligible to apply.
If my child is already enrolled in a qualified non-public school, can we apply?
Yes! Currently enrolled students whose family income and/or residence qualifies them for the tax credit scholarship are eligible to apply.
What about my preschool student?
The state of Illinois established the Tax Credit Scholarship program for students in grades K-12 only; however, current 4-year-old pre-K students moving up to kindergarten for the 2019-20 school year are eligible to apply. Per the Illinois state law, a child must turn 5 on or before September 1st in order to be eligible for Kindergarten.
Why should I choose Big Shoulders Fund as my SGO?
In the last 10 years alone, Big Shoulders Fund has provided in excess of $60 million in scholarships so that more than 50,000 students could attend great private schools. Our programs provide a strong academic and social foundation beginning in elementary school, preparing students for quality high schools, and ultimately, college and career. Our graduates enroll and persist in both high school and college at rates above local and national peers. We don’t just provide money for scholarships – we support student achievement and vibrant, flourishing schools that prepare students to succeed in life.
Big Shoulders Fund has been working with schools and families for over 20 years. Keeping schools and families in mind, Big Shoulders Fund is here to support you.
Doesn’t Big Shoulders Fund already give out scholarships? How is this different?
The new tax credit scholarships are in addition to Big Shoulders Fund existing scholarship programs and are funded through a separate source. State law determines how recipients of tax credit scholarships are selected, whereas criteria for our current Big Shoulders Fund scholarship programs are based on parameters established by private donors that may be more or less restrictive than the requirements for the tax credit scholarship. Big Shoulders Fund will continue to award thousands of scholarships every year regardless of funding for the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program. On average over each of the last five years, we provided more than 5,000 scholarships to students in the Chicagoland area.
If I already receive a Big Shoulders Fund scholarship, do I automatically qualify for a tax credit scholarship?
No. Tax credit scholarships are separate from our existing private scholarship programs and require families to apply separately. In order to receive a tax credit scholarship, a family must apply to an SGO, such as the Big Shoulders Fund, and meet the income qualifications established by state law. Tax credit scholarships are then awarded based on a first come, first serve basis.
If I already have a Big Shoulders Fund scholarship, am I required to apply for an SGO scholarship?
No, as an organization, we remain open to a current scholarship family’s decision to apply for the tax credit scholarship. We encourage families to decide which option is best for them while considering all factors, such as renewability, overall scholarship value, etc.
Can I apply to the Big Shoulders Fund for a tax credit scholarship and remain eligible for other Big Shoulders Fund scholarships?
We intend to retain our “one student, one scholarship” policy. Therefore, if a student is awarded a tax credit scholarship, through Big Shoulders Fund or any other SGO, and another Big Shoulders Fund scholarship the family will have to choose the single scholarship they would like to maintain for their student. If you do not receive the tax credit scholarship, and wish to attend one of our 75 partner schools, we highly encourage you to work with the school principal to apply through our existing scholarship programs. Please contact your local school for more information about this process.
What happens next year if I am awarded a scholarship this year?
If you receive a tax credit scholarship to the qualified non-public school of your choosing in the spring of 2019, you can use the award to attend that school for the 2019-2020 school year. The tax credit scholarship will be paid directly to your school of choice in the fall of 2019. NOTE: Students who are awarded scholarships must reapply each year.
Do I have to use my tax credit scholarship at one of the 75 Big Shoulders Fund schools?
No, based on the availability of funding, you can use your tax credit scholarship at any qualifying non-public school in Region 1 or 2 (see list here). Some funding may be restricted for use at one particular school or group of schools. Big Shoulders Fund will award tax credit scholarships based on the school you select on your application.
Please note that we will be publishing more details about the application process in the coming weeks.
For more information, please contact SGOapp@bigshouldersfund.org or call 312-751-8337.
Need to Update your application from 2018?
To change information on your application- i.e. email, address, DOB http://bit.ly/BSFchangerequest
To decline a Tax Credit Scholarship Award from Big Shoulders Fund – i.e. received scholarship from another source, not attending a qualified non-public school - http://bit.ly/declineBSF18
To request to transfer your award to another school- http://bit.ly/BSFSGOParentTransfer
To remove yourself from the scholarship waitlist– i.e. received scholarship from another source, not attending a qualified non-public school - http://bit.ly/waitlistdecline