JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Early Childhood Scholarship Application Launches


NOTE: If you are not the person at your institution who will be working with the ECACE Scholarship Program, please forward this message to the appropriate colleague(s).

ISAC is pleased to announce the launch of the 2021-22 Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program application. This new scholarship program is part of a collaborative effort among numerous Illinois agencies that established the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity through P.A. 102-0174. The goal of the Consortium is to address the shortage of early childhood educators by encouraging the pursuit of credentials and advancement of already-held degrees in early childhood education with an aim towards building a strong, well-prepared workforce.

Scholarship program details – including eligibility requirements – are available on our website, along with a link to the online application. As always, we ask our partners to encourage those who may be interested in applying to learn about the program before completing the application.

Here is a high-level look at some of those details. Be sure to access the information on our site for the complete overview.

Institutional Eligibility

  • Community colleges and public universities are automatically considered participating institutions.
  • Non-profit private institutions that signed an agreement with the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) are also eligible to participate.

Applicant Eligibility

  • Member of "incumbent workforce" – defined as working or having worked in the early childhood field, including family child care and center-based care settings, Preschool for All school-based settings and Head Start, that serve children from birth to age 5 and includes teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care providers and assistants.
  • Membership in the Gateways to Opportunity® Registry – proof of eligible work position(s) is required and will be verified through the Eligibility Verification Form obtained from the Registry by the applicant.
  • Enrollment in an undergraduate course of study leading to either a postsecondary credential or undergraduate degree in the early childhood field or a Professional Educator's License in early childhood education.
  • In addition to completing the ECACE application, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) must be filed for the same academic year. The ECACE-participating college the applicant plans to attend must be listed on the FAFSA. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but the FAFSA results (expected family contribution) will be used to prioritize awards among the neediest of applicants.

General Program Information

  • Although there is no teaching commitment connected to the award, recipients are expected to continue or return to teaching or direct services in the early childhood care and education field after they complete their program of study.
  • Recipients at community colleges and public universities may receive awards to cover the total cost of attendance for the academic year (including summer) after subtracting other financial aid received.
  • Recipients at participating non-profit private institutions may receive an amount no more than the cost of the most expensive program of study in the early childhood education field at an Illinois public college.
  • The priority consideration date for submitting an ECACE application for the 2021-22 academic year is March 1, 2022. Applications received after that date will be considered if funding remains after all timely, complete qualified applicants have been awarded.
  • Navigators based at regional child care centers will be made available to assist applicants with the financial aid and application processes. Applicants will then be "handed off" to a program coach/mentor.
  • Institution-based staff will act as program coaches/mentors to support and advise students as they persist in completing their studies.

Our Collaboration Partners

  • Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE)
  • Illinois Community College Board (ICCB)
  • Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
  • Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS)
  • Illinois Network of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA)
  • Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development

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If you have any questions regarding this e-Message, please contact ISAC's School Services Department by calling toll free at 866.247.2172 or sending an e-mail message to isac.schoolservices@illinois.gov.