The State of Illinois passed the Invest in Kids Act in 2017. The Act allows for tax-credit scholarships that are used to help fund the tuition of Illinois students at a private school in Illinois, such as Lansing Christian. These scholarships are granted by a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and not by the school and are awarded to eligible students as defined by the Act.
An eligible student means a child who:
- Is a member of a household whose federal adjusted gross income the year before he or she initially receives a scholarship under this program, as determined by the IL Department of Revenue, does not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level and, once the child receives a scholarship, does not exceed 400% of the federal poverty level;
- Is eligible to attend a public elementary school or high school in Illinois in the semester immediately preceding the semester for which he or she first receives a scholarship or is starting school in Illinois for the first time when he or she first receives a scholarship, and
- Resides in Illinois while receiving a scholarship.
“Eligible student” may also mean foster children who are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court.
The state has set specific guidelines with regards to whom the scholarships can be awarded, called “priority groups.” These four priority groups are:
A) eligible students who received a scholarship from a scholarship granting
organization during the previous school year;
B) eligible students who are members of a household whose previous year’s
total annual income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level;
C) eligible students who reside within a focus district determined by the Illinois State Board of Education and
D) eligible students who are siblings of students currently receiving a
scholarship from a scholarship granting organization.
All of the above priority groups are treated equally for purposes of awarding scholarships. Eligible students in one priority group are not given preference over eligible students in another priority group. Scholarships are awarded based on eligibility set forth in the priority groups on a first-come-first-served basis.
The priority groups apply to all scholarships awarded before April 1st of the calendar year preceding the upcoming academic year. After April 1st, the SGO can award scholarships to eligible students without regard to priority groups. These scholarships are also on a first-come-first-served basis.
There are two SGOs with whom LCS works most closely. The first is Children’s Tuition Fund. CTF is part of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and is based in Colorado Springs, CO. The second is Bright Promise Fund. Bright Promise Fund is a Christian organization serving Christian schools in the Chicagoland area.
Families can apply to as many SGOs as they want, not necessarily these two. No matter how many scholarships a student may be awarded, students are unable to receive more than one scholarship funded under the Invest in Kids Act in any academic year. However, the Act does not prohibit an eligible student from receiving other scholarships from a SGO or other source that are paid from funds not subject to the Act.
The funds for the scholarship are sent directly to the school to cover the cost of a student’s tuition and eligible fees.
How to apply for a scholarship?
The first step is to go to the website of a Scholarship Granting Organization, such as Children’s Tuition Fund and Bright Promise Fund. Once there, complete the application. If you have more than one student at LCS, you must complete one application per student. Once you have completed the application at the SGO, you have secured your place in line.
If you are applying to the Children’s Tuition Fund, they will review your application and determine if funding is available. They will contact you via email, and direct you to complete the financial portion of the application through a third party, FACTS Management.
If you are applying to the Bright Promise Fund, you will see a pop-up window with a link to the FACTS website, where you will verify your financial information.
There is a small fee charged to the family for using FACTS, but it is paid only once. You do not have to pay for each SGO for which you have filled out an application. For example, if you applied first to Children’s Tuition Fund and have paid your application fee to FACTS, you do not have to pay FACTS a second time if you apply to Bright Promises also.
After you complete FACTS, the SGO will review all your information and will let you know within a few weeks their decision. The SGO will then work with LCS to grant the scholarship.
If you have any questions regarding Children’s Tuition Fund, you can contact their Illinois representatives directly.
You can also contact Bright Promises directly through their website.