Apply for a Tax Credit Scholarship
Application Opens January 22nd at 8:00am
Big Shoulders Fund is currently finalizing its application. The following information will be required to complete the application. The official application will open January 22nd at 8:00am.
For a "how to guide" of the Big Shoulder Fund Application, click here
For instructions to upload documents, click here
For the Parent or Guardian Guide Book, click here
For Sworn Statement that you did not file taxes, click here
- Parent/guardian contact information (e.g., address, city, zip, etc.) – note that an e-mail address will be required, along with supporting documentation for the household address (e.g., utility bill, driver’s license, rental agreement, stamped United States Post Office change of address form)
- Number in household
- School district in which household resides
- Household income – note that the household will be required to provide one of the following substantiating documents:
- Form 1040 (US Individual Tax Return) from 2016 or 2017
- Report from 3rd party financial aid reviewer such as FACTS, TADS, SMART (within the last 12 months - your school may be able to provide a copy of this if they use one of these services)
- Sworn Statement that the household did not file a tax return with the IRS, including copies of W-2's, 1099's, or other independent proof of income - please use this file.
- Student name and birth date
- Student demographic information (e.g., race, gender)
- Grade for the 2018-19 school year
- Siblings, if applicable, who will also apply for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program
- Identify the non-public school being selected by the student in the household
- Identify whether the student is already enrolled at the selected school
Awarding of scholarships is subject to availability of funding through this program.
If you have additional questions about the application please contact us at SGOapp@bigshouldersfund.org
Frequently Asked Questions - Application Process
When can I apply to Big Shoulders Fund for a Tax Credit Scholarship?
Applications will be open on January 22, 2018, at 8 am. Applications will be available online. We will only accept online applications.
What documents do I need to apply for a Tax Credit Scholarship?
On the application, we will ask for basic household information. Please note that we will require you to upload specific documents in order to verify income and address. If you need help with this, please contact your local nonpublic school or SGOapp@bigshouldersfund.org for additional support. The application will ask basic questions such as:
· Parent/guardian contact information (e.g., address, city, zip, etc.)—note that an email address will be required, along with supporting documentation for the household address (e.g., utility bill, driver’s license)
· Number in household
· School district in which household resides
· 2016 federal adjusted gross income—note that the household will be required to provide substantiating documentation (e.g., 1040)
· Student name and birthdate
· Student demographic information (e.g., race, gender)
· Grade for the 2018-19 school year
· Siblings, if applicable, who will also apply for the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program
· Identify the nonpublic school being selected by the student in the household
· Identify whether the student is already enrolled at the selected school
What documents can be used to show proof of household income? What documents will be accepted to provide proof of address?
The following documents are acceptable for proof of income (please black out or cover any social security numbers before scanning the documents). You will be asked to provide ONE of the following:
1040 from 2016 or 2017(either U.S. or IL)
Report from third-party financial aid reviewer (i.e. FACTS, TADS, SMART) within the last 12 months
Sworn statement that you did not file with the IRS
We will accept the following documents for proof of address. You will be asked to provide ONE of the following:
Current utility bill or rental agreement
Current Illinois driver's license or State of Illinois identification card
Stamped U.S. Postal Service change of address form
Please contact us if you need support in providing this documentation.
What if I have more than one child applying for the Tax Credit Scholarship at the same school?
Families with multiple children are welcome to apply. In the event that a multiple-child family is awarded the Tax Credit Scholarship, Big Shoulders Fund will work with the school to provide the appropriate tuition and eligible fees based on what that school charges for a family of that size.
What if I have more than one child attending multiple schools applying for the Tax Credit Scholarship?
For families with multiple children, each student’s application will be placed in the applicant queue based on its completion date and time. Big Shoulders Fund will distribute awards based on each school's tuition and eligible fees.
Does my child need to be accepted in the nonpublic school of choice before applying for the Tax Credit Scholarship?
No, your child does not need to apply or be accepted to a nonpublic school before applying for the Tax Credit Scholarship, but you will be asked to choose a school when you apply. You can apply for the Tax Credit Scholarship first, and then apply to a school. Each nonpublic school may have their own admission requirements/timeline and so if you are interested in a particular school, it is advisable to simultaneously reach out to the school about its admission process. A list of qualified nonpublic schools from the Illinois State Board of Education is linked here. (Big Shoulders Fund is approved to award Tax Credit Scholarships in Region 1 and Region 2, including the following counties: Cook, Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago.
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 applying between January 22 and April 1 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.