Tax Credit Scholarship Application Update 

Thank you to all the families who submitted applications to the Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Big Shoulders Fund received more than 12,000 applications, reflecting tremendous demand and need for educational opportunity.

As the number of applications increased, it was apparent that the demand outweighed our current ability to award Tax Credit Scholarships; therefore, we proactively chose to suspend our application at 11:59pm on January 23rd. We communicated the decision to suspend our application in advance via our website, email, and social media channels to give families as much notice as possible. 

UPDATED: Frequently Asked Questions - Applicants to the Big Shoulders Fund Tax Credit Scholarship

How were scholarship awards determined?

The Big Shoulders Fund is Scholarship Granting Organization in Region 1 and 2 in Illinois. We are required by law to implement this scholarship program in accordance with the Illinois Invest in Kids Act. As such, we are bound by the requirements of the program that indicate that all scholarships must be awarded on a first come first served basis to families that are eligible under the federal poverty income guidelines. Please see for more information about eligibility.

How many people applied? What are my chances of receiving a scholarship?

In less than two days, we received over 12,000 applications for the Tax Credit Scholarship. While we are incredibly excited about the number of people who are interested in a private education, the demand is greater than our funding potential for eligible students. We cannot provide specific information about your family’s chance of receiving a scholarship, but please understand that we can only provide scholarships based on the funding we’ve received and in many cases, the funding directed towards our Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) was restricted to a particular school or a group of schools.

I can’t remember what I put on my application. I think I may have submitted something incorrectly. Can you look my application up?

In less than two days, we received over 12,000 applications for the Tax Credit Scholarship, so we cannot look up individual applications. If our processors determine that they need to follow up with you, they will contact you.

I haven’t received a response regarding the status of my application.

We have communicated with everyone in Priority Group 1 (185% of poverty level or below or living in a focus district) and Priority Group 2. If you did not receive an email, you may have entered your contact information incorrectly.

Unfortunately, our office staff cannot access your individual application. Notification of scholarship awards will be emailed directly to the email address you provided on the application. Applicants who are receiving an award will also receive notification via postal mail (mailed to the home address provided on your application) in the next 2-3 weeks (in addition to the email notification).

Why did I receive a denial email for the Tax Credit Scholarship?

If you received a denial, it is because your income did not meet the guidelines, you did not provide the proper documentation, or you did not fill out the application correctly. We cannot access your family’s application to determine the reason for your denial.

Why I am waitlisted for the Tax Credit Scholarship?

The Tax Credit Scholarship is subject to the availability of funding. We currently are working to secure additional donors, but we received over 12,000 applications and will not be able to serve everyone. Here are a few options to consider if you were denied or waitlisted:

·        If you think that you are eligible for a Tax Credit Scholarship, please consider applying to another SGO. Here is the list of approved SGOs.

·        If you are interested in attending another school within the BSF network, you are invited to apply for our private scholarship program or contact the school of your choice directly for financial assistance.

·        If you are interested in a private school outside our network, please contact the school directly.

·        You can also apply again next year for the Tax Credit Scholarship.

When will I know if I am off the waitlist?

We will contact you with an award letter and email if your status changes. Please do not contact us regarding your waitlist status as we are not able to look up your application.

I applied early how can I be on the waitlist?

Please keep in mind that scholarship availability is based on funding and within the first two hours close to 8,000 applications were submitted. Each donor had the option to restrict funding to a certain group of schools or even individual schools. In some cases, the funding for your chosen school may have been very limited. For this reason, we have been encouraging all families to apply to multiple SGOs to increase their chances of receiving a Tax Credit Scholarship.

What number am I on the waitlist?

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applicants, we cannot look up individual applications to determine where you fall on the waitlist.

I was denied or waitlisted but have a traditional Big Shoulders Fund Scholarship. What does this mean for my family?

If you are currently a Big Shoulders Fund Scholar and didn’t receive a Tax Credit Scholarship, there is no impact on your current scholar status. Please contact your school directly to see if you have a renewable scholarship or if you’ll need to apply again in the fall for our traditional scholarship program.

I received an award. What do I do next?

Congrats! An award letter will be arriving at your house in a few weeks. Please contact the school of your choice to gain acceptance and have them fill out your School Commitment form no later than June 1 , 2018.  Please review the Parent and Guardian Guidebook for more information.  Keep in mind that all Tax Credit scholarships are for the 2018-2019 school year.

I received a Tax Credit Scholarship but I also have a traditional Big Shoulders Fund Scholarship. What does this mean for my family?

You will need to choose which scholarship to accept. If you choose the Tax Credit Scholarship, you will not be eligible for a traditional funded Big Shoulders Fund scholarship.

I received a scholarship from more than one SGO. What should I do next?

You must choose which scholarship to utilize. You cannot use more than one Tax Credit Scholarship. If you choose to accept a scholarship from another SGO, please notify us as soon as possible via email. This will enable us to make more funding available to other families.

I received a scholarship award letter, but I entered the wrong school on the application OR I need to transfer schools.  How can I correct this?

Please contact us to inquire about transferring the scholarship to another school.  Please note that many awards are based on donations we received on behalf of this a particular school and so you are award may not be transferable to any other school.

I applied for the Tax Credit Scholarship for multiple children, but only one child received the scholarship. How is this possible when I submitted the application for them at the same time?

In some cases, families with multiple children may find that one child receives a Tax Credit Scholarship, while the other(s) do not. This is due to availability of funding.  We can only award scholarships as we receive funds from donors, and in some cases, donors may have restricted their funding to a particular school or schools.


Frequently Asked Questions - Application Process

For the Parent or Guardian Guide Book, click here

For what school year are the scholarships awarded?

All Tax Credit Scholarships are for the 2018-19 school year.  Students who are awarded scholarships in the first year must reapply each year and will have priority to receive scholarships in subsequent years, subject to income levels and availability of funding. Siblings of scholarship recipients also will have priority in subsequent years.

Are any applicants given priority in the process?

As part of the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program, the State of Illinois has identified certain groups for priority status. Awards are prioritized based on income and residence. Until April 1, 2018, priority is given to students in households earning less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level or who reside in a focus district. After April 1, scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to any eligible students, based on availability of funding. See below for more information about priority groups. All SGOs must follow the same rules regarding priority status when awarding scholarships.

What is the process to apply?

All families are invited to apply to Big Shoulders Fund starting Monday, January 22, 2018, at 8 am.

Before April 1, families who are in a priority group will receive a response within 10 business days regarding eligibility. Determination of actual awards will be subject to the availability of funding.  

Application Cycle for Schools and Families

-        Families are invited to apply starting on January 22.

-        All applicants will receive an automated acknowledgement of receipt when the application form is successfully completed.

-        Priority families will receive a notification of eligibility within 10 business days of submitting a completed application. Once funding is available, an award letter and school commitment form will be sent via email/mail to families who will receive an award. If funding is exhausted, families will receive a waitlist notification.

-        All nonpriority applicants will receive notification that their application is complete. If you are receiving a scholarship, we will mail/email an award letter and a school commitment form.

When will I know if I am receiving a scholarship? What do I do once I’ve received a scholarship?

Applicants who are in a priority group and submit a completed application will receive a response regarding their eligibility within 10 business days. If funding is available, an official award letter and school commitment form will be mailed/emailed and the next step is to gain acceptance into the school.

Upon being accepted into the school of your choice, the school will notify us that you are accepted and the scholarship award will be sent to the school during the 2018-2019 school year once enrollment/attendance is verified.

If I receive a Tax Credit Scholarship, does that mean I am accepted to the school of my choice?

A Tax Credit Scholarship does not guarantee acceptance. Applicants must still apply and gain acceptance to a qualifying nonpublic school.

After I receive a Tax Credit Scholarship, how long do I have to gain acceptance into my school of choice?

Families who are awarded scholarships will have until Friday, June 1, 2018, to gain acceptance to a qualifying nonpublic school for the 2018-19 school year.

What happens if my family is on the waitlist?

In the event that additional funding becomes available after the initial round of awards is completed, Big Shoulders will review waitlisted applications in the order that they were received. For those families who receive awards at that time, new deadlines to gain acceptance will apply; these deadlines will be communicated in advance.

If your family does not receive a Tax Credit Scholarship, but is interested in a private education, we encourage you to work with the school leader at the private school of your choice to apply for financial assistance either through the school or through our private scholarship program.

I wanted to apply, but missed the deadlines and now the application is closed for the year. What should I do?

If applications are closed, we encourage you to fill out the interest form on our website, which will help us communicate with you in the future. If and when funding becomes available and the waitlist has been exhausted, the application process may be reopened for new applicants. Any decision to reopen the application process will be communicated to all parties.

Do I have to reapply for a tax credit scholarship each year?

Yes. Before the scholarship can be granted each year, Scholarship Granting Organizations must assess and document each student's eligibility for the upcoming academic year—even for those who received the scholarship the year before. Returning students and their siblings will receive preference in the next year’s application process. Please keep in mind that this program is different than the current Big Shoulders Fund renewable scholarships from private donors that follow a student over multiple years.