Curriculum and Resources

Apply for a Tax Credit Scholarship

Through the Illinois Invest in Kids Act, tax credit scholarships are available to children grades K-12 from low-income households who want a Catholic school education. This program started during the 2018/19 school year and many families in our Catholic schools have benefitted.

Donors fund the scholarship and in return receive a 75 percent credit on their Illinois state income tax. They can choose the Catholic school they would like to receive their donation. The scholarships cover up to 100 percent of tuition and eligible fees for one year and are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to availability. You must reapply for a tax credit scholarship each school year.

Families must apply for tax credit scholarships through a scholarship granting organization (SGO), which distributes the scholarships. The Archdiocese of Chicago works with two SGOs: Empower Illinois and Big Shoulders Fund.


K-12 students, with income up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, are eligible to receive tax credit scholarships. Returning tax credit scholarship recipients can make up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Please see the income chart below to determine if your family may be eligible for a tax credit scholarship.

2020 Federal Poverty Guidelines
Persons in
2 $31,894 $43,100 $51,720 $68,960
3 $40,182 $54,300 $65,160 $86,880
4 $48,470 $65,500 $78,600 $104,800
5 $56,758 $76,700 $92,040 $122,720
6 $65,046 $87,900 $105,480 $140,640
7 $73,334 $99,100 $118,920 $158,560
8 $81,622 $110,300 $132,360 $176,480
Add $4,480 for each person over 8

Families may submit an application to one or both SGOs. Listed below is an overview of their application processes and key dates. Please visit their websites for more detailed information.

Empower Illinois Application Process and Key Dates

The Empower Illinois tax credit scholarship application is a two-step process:

Step 1: On Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:30 p.m., you will have access to a brief reservation form on You must be prepared to promptly submit the reservation form at 7 p.m., which timestamps your reservation. Your timestamp is critical as it may impact your chances of receiving a scholarship. Seconds matter! Be ready at 7 pm.!

The reservation form will ask you for the following information:

  • Parent name
  • Contact information – address, phone number, email address
  • All child(ren) name(s)for whom you would like to apply

While step-one does not require uploading of documents, applicants do need to have their most recent federal tax return or other required proof of income on hand to accurately report their adjusted gross income.

Step 2: Beginning on or about Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, you may complete the full scholarship application through the Empower Illinois online student portal. You will receive instructions via email about setting up your student portal after your reservation has been completed (step 1). Scholarship awards are subject to the availability of funds at your school of choice.

The Empower Illinois application will be available in English, Spanish and Polish. Look for the TRANSLATE button at the bottom left of the homepage and select your preferred language.

To prepare yourself further for the Empower Illinois application, please visit

Big Shoulders Fund SGO Application Process and Key Dates

The Big Shoulders Fund SGO application is a two-step process. Step-one begins at 8 a.m., CT, on Thursday, Jan. 13. In the first step, applicants will complete the online application with all household and student information and receive their date-time stamp. This is a critical step as your timestamp matters and may impact your chances of receiving a scholarship. Seconds matter, be ready at 8 a.m.

After January 15, Big Shoulders Fund SGO will email a limited number of applicants on a rolling basis as funds become available. Selected applicants will be asked to complete and submit documents verifying income and residence. While step 1 does not require uploading of documents, applicants do need to have their most recent federal tax return or other required proof of income to report their adjusted gross income. More information and an application how-to guide can be found at

Information is available in Spanish by going to