Scholarships ‘Invest in Kids’
What You Need to Know About the Tax Credit
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
December 7, 2017
DIOCESE— Earlier this year, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law, the “Invest in Kids Act.” Through this new law, Illinois children enrolled in private schools will have access to new scholarships. 
The scholarships offered through this program could cover 50 to 100 percent of a student’s tuition and eligible charges for the next school year. 
Elizabeth Heitkamp, assistant superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Rockford Diocese, says even though this program is new and still evolving, the diocesan education office has put together some basic information for parents and families looking for financial aid, along with a fact sheet for donors wishing to contribute. 
With the help of Heitkamp and the diocesan education office, The Observer has put together some questions and answers to help parents and prospective donors understand the Invest in Kids Act.
Q. Where does the money come from?
A. Funds for this scholarship program comes from donors who contribute funds to scholarship granting organizations or SGOs. The new Invest in Kids Act allows individuals and corporations who contribute to SGOs, a 75 percent credit on their state taxes in return for the contribution. Individual donors receive 75 percent credit and the credit is non-refundable, meaning it cannot take a taxpayer’s liability below zero. However, the credit can be carried forward for up to five years. 
Individual donors may direct their funds to a specific school, like a parish school or subset of schools like the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Rockford but corporate donors cannot designate.
Corporate donors are also eligible to apply for the 75 percent tax credit for a donation of up to $1.3 million dollars with a limit of $1 million in tax credit with the credit applied to the corporate tax liability. 
More donor information is available at the diocesan education website at and the Illinois Department of Revenue website.
Q. How much scholarship money is available? 
A. Heitkamp said that if the program becomes fully funded, the funds that would be available for the Northern Illinois region would be about $23 million.  She estimates that if the average student receives $5,000 from this pool of funds, approximately 4,600 students would benefit. 
Q .  Who should apply?
A.  All families with students in grades K through 12 interested in obtaining a Catholic education or those already enrolled in diocesan Catholic Schools are eligible to apply for the tax credit scholarships. Funds will be awarded based on income and family size. For example, you could receive a tax credit scholarship if you make less than $73,800 a year as a family of four. Students who have defined special needs, are English Language Learners, or are classified as Gifted and Talented could receive a higher scholarship amount.
Q.  How do I apply?
A. The Diocese of Rockford has selected Empower Illinois as it’s preferred Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO).  The Empower Illinois website is  and the expected website launch date was the week of Dec. 4. But applications will not be available at the time of the website launch. The expected date to receive applications is Jan. 2.
You can get help applying for the scholarship in person at a variety of events in your community in the coming months. The education office will let parishes and schools know when information is available and will post in their website. 
Q.  Is there a deadline? 
A. You may begin applying for the scholarship program on Jan. 2.
Learn more at 
Scholarships will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis so it is very important to apply early. 
Info: or Elizabeth Heitkamp, 815/399-4300,