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IL Tax Credit Scholarships

Invest in Kids Act -- The IL Tax Scholarship Program

The Invest in Kids Act, passed by Illinois state legislators in 2017, was designed to create a more equitable formula for school funding. Scholarships for SCCS and CCHS students are funded by individuals and businesses who contribute to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) in return for a 75% state tax credit. Scholarships are awarded to families with financial need that choose to enroll their children at private schools to secure a quality education for their children.  This is an amazing opportunity for the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois – to make a difference in the lives of students who otherwise would not have this educational opportunity.

At Southwest Chicago Christian Schools, wwe work most closely with one Scholarship Granting Organization, the Children's Tuition Fund (CTF).  Children's Tuition Fund is part of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).  Whether you are a contributor looking for a tax credit, or a family seeking a scholarship, we recommend that you work through this organization.  SCCS is also looking forward to working with the Bright Promise Fund.  This organization is a new SGO and is seeking undesignation scholarship funds from Illinois businesses and corporations that wish to take advantage of the tax credit program.  Both of these organizations are Christian, and have long standing reputations in our community.  They both seek to make an impact and offer hope for Illinois families. 

  

Seeking a Tax Credit

You can make a difference!  Your contribution through a tax credit scholarship provides a high quality, Christian-based education for students with financial need.  This program has already benefited several Southwest Chicago Christian School and Chicago Christian High School students. In 2019/20, 83 students have been granted full or partial scholarships totaling over $650,000.  However, students remain on the waiting list and the state still has plenty of tax credits available.  If you pay IL income taxes, by making a contribution to this program, you can receive a credit on your taxes.   
 
Need additional assistance?  See the Resources on the right of this page.  You can also contact Jean Bergesion, Director of Mission Advancement.  She is available to walk you through this process.  Contact her directly at Jbergeson@swchristian.org or 708.388.7656.

  

Frequently Asked Questions for Contributors

List of 5 items.

  • What is a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO)?

    A SGO is a non-profit that receives qualified contributions from individuals and businesses and then distributes those funds in the form of scholarships to eligible students (based on financial need) who wish to attend a private school in Illinois.  SCCS and CCHS work primarily with Children’s Tuition Fund.  As an individual, you can designate that your dollars benefit SCCS and CCHS students specifically. If you are a contributing on behalf of a business organization, you may consider working with either Chidlren's Tuition Fund or the Bright Promise Fund.  
  • What is a tax credit and a tax liability?

    A tax credit is an amount of money that can be offset against a tax liability. Tax liability is the total amount of tax debt owed by an individual or business.
  • When do I make a contribution to an SGO?

    The answer is two-fold.  
    1. From the schools’ perspective, please make your contribution as early in the calendar year as possible. This allows us to secure scholarships for families in the spring as they plan for school attendance the following fall.  
    2. We of course welcome contributions any time of the year and donations are accepted by SGOs at any time. Bear in mind that in order for a tax credit to be used on a specific year’s tax return, the contribution must be made within that calendar year. For example, to receive a tax credit for the year 2019, the credit must be reserved and the contribution made by December 31, 2019.  Allow several weeks to go through the process for the first time.
  • Who is eligible to receive this tax credit?

    Any business or individual who makes a contribution to a scholarship granting organization (SGO) is eligible to receive a tax credit. The credit is 75% of the donation, so a $10,000 donation to a SGO would constitute a $7,500 tax credit
  • Why are tax credits beneficial?

    Tax credits lower your tax bill, and they also lower your tax liability. They are not deductions, but actual credits.  They give you control over how your tax dollars are spent, giving you the chance to help provide a Christian education for students with financial need who otherwise would not have this opportunity. 

Steps to Make a Contribution

  1. For the first time, you will need to create an account on the My Tax Illinois website and apply for a tax credit letter ID.
    • The state will mail you a letter with a tax id code.  This letter comes via the US Postal Service and takes 7 to 10 days to receive.
    • Use this code to set up an account with a username and passcode.  
  2. Using your Username and Passcode, log into your account and reserve a credit for the IL Invest in Kids Act.
  3. You should receive an online notification from the Illinois Department of Revenue.  
    • This notification will come to you within the online system and should arrive in a matter of minutes.
    • The notification should include Certificate of Credit.  Save a copy of this document to your computer.
  4. You have 60 days to make your contribution to a SGO.
    • Go to the website for the Children's Tuition Fund, and click on the button to make a contribution.
    • Their website will walk you through the contribution process.
    • Choose Region 1 - Cook County.
    • Please designate Southwest Chicago Christian Schools to benefit from your contribution.
    • Submit a payment, either online with a debit or credit card, or by mailing a check to the SGO.
   

Questions?

If you have questions about securing a scholarship through the IL Tax Credit Scholarship Program, please contact the Scholarship Granting Organization that you are applying with.  Additionally, you may contact the Advancement Office at 708.388.7646 or Info@swchristian.org.

Seeking a Scholarship

Would you like for your child or children to attend Southwest Chicago Christian School and/or Chicago Christian High School?  Please see our Admissions page to find out more about our schools and admissions requirements.  This program has benefited many of our families for the last few years. 
 
 

Frequently Asked Questions for Scholarship Seekers

List of 8 items.

  • How much money can a student receive through this scholarship?

    Depending on the household income, the scholarships cover 50%, 75% or 100% of a student’s tuition and eligible fees. They are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis and applicants who have received a scholarship in the past will take precedence in the following years should they choose to re-apply.  Applicants MUST REAPPLY EVERY YEAR if they wish to continue in the scholarship program. 
     
  • Should I apply to more than one SGO?

    You can apply to as many SGOs as desired. We recommend you apply with Children’s Tuition Fund and Bright Promise Fund as we plan to continue to work closely with these organizations.  We recommend our individual contributors make their donations to Childdren's Tuition Fund, since this is the SGO that provides most of our scholarships.  

    Please note that if your student receives a scholarship from more than one SGO, you will need to choose one scholarship and decline the other.
  • What are tax credit scholarships?

    Tax credit scholarships are awarded by Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs) to eligible students from low-income families. Contributors will use money already owed to the state (taxes) and contribute it to a needs-based scholarship. Donors receive a 75% state tax credit. For example, if they contribute $1,000 to this program, they will receive a $750 credit on their IL income tax.  Contributors are essentially also making a donation (for which they receive no tax benefit) when you consider that 25% of their contribution does not receive a credit. 
  • What do I need in order to apply for a scholarship?

    You will complete an initial, brief application with the SGO.  Once the SGO determines that they may have funding for you, they will recontact you and ask that you provide additional information.  This is typically through a 3rd party organization, such as FACTS. (There is also typically a small fee to register with FACTS and similar organizations.)  

    Items you will likely need to provide:  Proof of Illinois residency, your adjusted gross income,a copy of your most recent tax return.  They may require other documents.  Applications are handled through an online system, and will require an email address for login.  If you are applying for multiple children, a separate application will need to be completed for each child.
  • What if we don't receive a scholarship?

    You are encouraged to apply Tuition Assistance directly with SCCS and CCHS. In fact, since the tax scholarship process is lengthy, we highly recommend you apply for Tuition Assistance in addition to applying for the scholarship.

    Apply for Tuition Assistance as early as possible. For students new to our schools, the application for assistance is handled through the admissions process.  For returning students, the application for assistance is handled during re-enrollment.
  • What is "priority status"?

    For scholarship applications received by April 1, priority is given for students that:
    • Received a scholarship for the prior school year,
    • Have a family income less than 185% of the federal poverty level, and/or
    • Reside in a focus district. (A focus district is a public school or district identified by the state to be operating at lower standards. The city of Chicago is considered a Focus District.)
    Scholarship applications received after April 1 are not eligible for priority status.
  • When are scholarships available?

    Scholarships for the 2019/2020 school year have already been disbursed. The SGOs will update their websites prior to January announcing the date of their application opening for 2020/21.  Application dates vary slightly from one SGO to another but all of them typically open in January.

    SGOs begin disbursing scholarships as funds are available, typically beginning in February. As a school, SCCS has to re-secure these contributions year after year.  The scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The scholarship funding goes quickly, therefore, it is important to apply as early as possible.
  • Who is eligible to receive a scholarship?

    Families with limited financial resources and income up to 300% of the federal poverty level are eligible. Families who are re-applying and have received a scholarship in the previous year can make up to 400% of the federal poverty level and receive a scholarship again.  See the resources for a link to the current poverty guidelines.  
    • Students from households that are lower than 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible for a full tuition scholarship.
    • Students from households that are between 185 - 250% of the federal poverty level are eligible for a 75% tuition scholarship.
    • Students from households that are between 250% - 300% are eligible for a 50% tuition scholarship.