Support

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.  The program is currently set to expire in 2023, and we are partnering with other schools and organizations to lobby the state to make this program permanent. 

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 in  private schools to secure a quality education. 

This scholarship program benefits many of our families!  In fact, we have secured almost $5 Million in funding for scholarships over the past five years. 
Southwest Chicago Christian School works closely with two Scholarship Granting Organizations:
  1. The Children's Tuition Fund (CTF) - CTF is part of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). 
  2. The Bright Promise Fund - This local organization is well known in our community and is also a Christian organization. 

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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 benefits both Southwest Chicago Christian School and Chicago Christian High School students. In 2022/23, more than 100 students have been granted full or partial scholarships totaling over $900,000!  We are currently seeking contributions to fund scholarships for the next school year.  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 Bergeson, Director of Mission Advancement.  She is available to walk you through this process.  Contact her directly at Jbergeson@swchristian.org or 708.388.7656, ext. 1052.

  

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 request a Certificate of Contribution 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 the SGO.
    • Go to the website for the Children's Tuition Fund or the Bright Promise Fund, and follow their instructions for making your contribution. Both organizations accept donations online, or you can mail a check.
    • Be sure to Choose Region 1 - Cook County, and designate the funds for Southwest Chicago Christian School.
  5. Once you make your contribution, the state will send you a letter electronically through your MyTaxIllinois account.  Retain this letter for your taxes to claim your credit.  

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 with Children’s Tuition Fund and Bright Promise Fund. As an individual, you can designate your dollars to specifically benefit SCCS and CCHS students. If you are a contributing on behalf of a business organization, you can certainly contribute but you cannot designate that a specific school receive the funding. 
  • 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 before the start of the school year in the 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 20213, the credit must be reserved and the contribution made by December 31, 2023.  Allow three to four 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 an 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.

Seeking a Scholarship?

Scholarships are awarded through 3rd party Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs).  Scholarships are awarded to eligible students from low-income families.   To apply for a scholarship, submit an application to an SGO for each student in your family (kindergarten through high school -- preschool students are not eligible.)  SCCS receives the vast majority of our scholarship funding through two SGO's:  Children's Tuition Fund and Bright Promise Fund.  We recommend our families apply to both of these SGO's. 

To find out if your student is eligible, review the information shared in this section.  Additionally, please visit our Admissions page to find out more about our schools and admissions requirements.

SGO: Children's Tuition Fund

APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR 2023/24:  January 18th, 9am

Step 1: Go to the website here:  Children's Tuition Fund ApplicationClick on the gold bar to complete a short application form.  (The gold bar will be "live" when applications are open.) Repeat this step for every student applicant.  This step is TIME SENSITIVE and secures your child's space in line.

Step 2: Once CTF determines they may have funding for your scholarship, they will contact you via email and request that you complete the financial aid file with FACTS.  Complete and submit this financial aid file ASAP to accept and secure your scholarship. There is a small fee to complete a FACTS file annually, unless you have already completed this same file for another organization.

Questions?  Go to https://childrenstuitionfund.org/, or contact Lori Westlund at Children's Tuition Fund directly - Lori_Westlund@acsi.org or 866.401.4801.

SGO: Bright Promise Fund

APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR 2023/24:  January 25th, 6pm

Step 1:  Complete the Bright Promise application here:   Bright Promise Application.  Repeat this step for every student applicant.  This step is TIME SENSITIVE and secures your child's space in line.

Step 2:  Once you complete all of your student applications with Bright Promise in Step 1, complete the FACTS Financial Aid Application here:  FACTS Application for Bright Promise.  You only need to complete the FACTS application once for your family.  There is a small fee involved.

Questions?  Go to brightpromisefund.org, email info@brightpromisefund.org or call 312.392.0953.

Frequently Asked Questions for Scholarship Seekers

List of 8 items.

  • 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.  For the current federal poverty levels, click here:  Federal 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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 families apply with both Children’s Tuition Fund and Bright Promise Fund as we receive significant contributions through both of these organizations. 

    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 information do I need for the scholarship application?

    The first step is to complete an initial, brief application with the SGO.  One application is required per student/child.  Minimal information is needed and this step secures the student's place in line.  Go to the SGO's website for specific information on what they require.  Typically, the SGO will need your Annual Household Income (AGI from your taxes), parent/guardian contact information, number of people in your household, and your home address. 

    The second step is to complete a financial aid file through FACTS.  There is a small fee annually to complete the FACTS file, but you only need to pay the fee once regardless of how many SGO's you apply to for scholarship.  For Step 2, the FACTS file, you will need:  Proof of Illinois residency, your adjusted gross income, and a copy of your most recent tax return. They may require other documents as well. This is an online system and will require an email address for login.  One FACTS file is required per family.
  • What if we don't receive a scholarship?

    You are encouraged to apply for 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"?

    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.)
    Priority status is honored through April 1st.
  • When are scholarships awarded?

    SGOs begin disbursing scholarships as soon funds are available, typically beginning in March.  Funds can be awarded as late as December or January for the current school year, as many contributors make their donations by December 31st for tax purposes. 

    As a school, SCCS has to re-secure these contributions year after year.  The scholarships are awarded based on a combination of priority levels and first-come, first-served status. The scholarship funding goes quickly, therefore, it is important to apply as early as possible. 

Questions?

If you have questions about securing a scholarship through the IL Tax Credit Scholarship Program, please contact the Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) that you are applying with.  Additionally, you may contact Jean Bergeson, Director-Mission Advancement at 708.388.7656, ext. 1052 or JBergeson@swchristian.org.