Merit Recognition Scholarship (MRS) Program
The last time funds were appropriated for this program was for the 2004-05 academic year.
*The number of scholarships made through this program, as well as the individual dollar amount awarded, are subject to sufficient annual appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor. Funding is limited, and funds may not be appropriated each year. During years for which funds are appropriated, if there are more eligible applicants than funds, the awards may be limited to a reduced number of students.
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If, based on data reported by your high school, you perform in the top five percent* of your class by the end of your third semester before graduation, or scored among the top five percent of scores in the ACT, SAT or Prairie State Achievement Exam, you may be eligible to receive $1,000 from the Merit Recognition Scholarship (MRS) Program. This one-time, non-renewable scholarship can be used to help you pay for tuition, fees or other educational expenses at any approved Illinois institution or one of the nation's four approved Military Service Academies.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen
- Be a resident of Illinois
- Meet either number one (1) or two (2) of the following:
- Perform in the top five percent* of your high school class according to performance-based academic data reported by the high school at the end of the third semester prior to graduation**
- Take the ACT, SAT or Prairie State Achievement Exam between September 1 and June 30 (by the end of the third semester before high school graduation**), and receive a score in the top five percent* of all students in Illinois who take the test during the same time period
- Attend an approved, Illinois postsecondary institution as an undergraduate on at least a half-time basis, or attend one of the nation's four approved Military Service Academies
- Comply with federal Selective Service registration requirements
- Claim the MRS award within one year after high school graduation, but not later than June 15 of the academic year following high school graduation
**(typically the end of your junior year in high school)
Students attending Illinois public high schools, who meet all eligibility requirements, will be considered for the MRS Program.
In addition, students who are Illinois residents attending other high schools (located in Illinois, or elsewhere) with standards of instruction that are substantially equivalent to an Illinois public high school (as determined by the State Superintendent of Education) may also be considered. If such students list Illinois as their state of residence on the ACT and/or SAT assessment tests, they will receive a letter instructing them to work with the high school to provide ISAC with the necessary information. Students who do not list Illinois as their state of residence, but believe they may qualify for this program, should contact an ISAC Call Center Representative to discuss their situation.
Department of Defense (DOD) High Schools are an example of other schools whose Illinois resident students may be considered for the MRS Program, because the State Superintendent of Education has determined that the standards of instruction at DOD schools are substantially equivalent to an Illinois public high school.
There is no student application to complete for the MRS Program - by taking one of the standardized tests or performing in high school as stated under Eligibility, you are automatically considered for this scholarship. Your high school counselor submits information to ISAC for the selection process.
If you are deemed a qualified applicant based on eligibility requirements, and once the MRS appropriation has been determined through the state legislative process, you will then receive an award letter and a Merit Recognition Scholarship (MRS) Application document from ISAC prior to the beginning of the academic year for which the award will be used. Both you and your Illinois college, university, or national service academy must complete this document and forward it to ISAC no later than June 15th of the academic year following high school graduation. For example, if you graduate from high school in May 2007 and receive an MRS award for the 2007-08 academic year, you and your college must complete the Merit Recognition Scholarship (MRS) Application document and forward it to ISAC no later than June 15, 2008. Once the completed document is received, ISAC will then send the award to your college in two disbursements.
ISAC works with the college to disburse funds for this program. The college certifies student eligibility and then submits a payment request on behalf of the student. It may take up to eight weeks after the date that ISAC processes the payment request before funds are received at the college.
Depending on the college, students may be responsible for payment until program funds are received. Qualified applicants who are awaiting receipt of funds from this program should contact the Financial Aid Office or Business Office to determine the college's policy.
Note that ISAC routinely updates this section as new information becomes available. Be sure to check back periodically for the current processing status.
For the 2012-13 Academic Year
(last updated August 15, 2012):
The Merit Recognition Scholarship (MRS) Program was not funded by the Illinois General Assembly in the fiscal year 2013 budget. As a result, eligible students entering college as freshmen in the fall of 2012 will not be receiving the scholarships.
- Financial need is not a factor in determining MRS recipients
- This scholarship does not count as a financial resource in calculations for the need-based MAP grant
- Students may receive both a MAP grant and an MRS award
- This program is dependent upon funding each year from the Illinois General Assembly
- Only students who, based on funding levels, are reasonably assured of receiving the grant will be notified of the award