JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Application Procedures for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program

Applicants may access the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program interactive application via the Program Applications & Status Checks area of the ISAC Student Portal. The online application has built-in edits to prevent errors, and ISAC sends immediate confirmation to the applicant’s e-mail address that the application has been received.

An ECACE Scholarship application, listing the student’s college of record, must be submitted for each academic year in which benefits are to be used. Applicants are also required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) for the same academic year that they are applying for the scholarship. To determine eligibility for the scholarship, all ECACE-participating Illinois colleges at which the applicant plans to use the award (i.e., the college of record and, if applicable, the college at which the student plans to take additional classes) must be listed on the FAFSA. The FAFSA results (expected family contribution) will be used to prioritize awarding, although financial need does not need to be demonstrated to receive the award.

Applicants should be encouraged to complete and submit both the ECACE application and the FAFSA on or before each year's priority consideration date, which is announced when the application is made available. The priority consideration date for the 2022-23 application was July 15, 2022. Applications received after that date (i.e., untimely applications) will continue to be considered for as long as funding remains available after all timely, qualified applicants have been awarded. Based on the fiscal year 2023 appropriation and projected application volume, ISAC anticipates that funds will remain to be awarded to eligible untimely applicants.

On the ECACE application, applicants will be asked to list their college of record. If they are undecided, they should list their first choice; if necessary, the college of record can be changed after the application has been submitted. Students taking courses at multiple colleges may ask staff at each institution to assist them in determining which should be listed as the college of record.

Required Documentation

The application process requires proof of employment as part of the incumbent workforce. Incumbent workforce is defined as having worked in the early childhood industry (in either a licensed or license-exempt facility), including home-based child care (e.g., family, friend, neighbor), center-/community-based child care settings, Preschool for All programs, school-based preschool settings, and Head Start programs, that serve children from birth to age 5. Acceptable positions include teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care providers and assistants.

An Eligibility Verification Form from the Gateways Registry must be downloaded and/or printed and then uploaded when completing the application. Applicants will not be allowed to proceed through the application without uploading the required documentation, so it is recommended to obtain and print the verification form before starting the online application. Registry members will enter through the Dashboard Login and access the form using these instructions. If an individual is not already a member, they can complete their registration on the site and then obtain their verification form. An applicant must be a current Gateways Registry member to qualify for the scholarship. The Eligibility Verification Form contains members' employment history, with assigned position codes. For award consideration, at least one of the position codes must be an eligible code.

Eligibility Verification Form Eligible Codes

Direct Services

1. Director and/or Administrator (one site)
2. Assistant Director
3. Director/Teacher
4. Teacher
5. Assistant Teacher
6. Teacher Aid (Preschool for All)
7. Substitute/Floater
8. Family Child Care Provider
9. Family Child Care Assistant
10. Group Family Child Care Provider
11. Group Family Child Care Assistant
15. Other Direct Services
25. Family, Friend or Neighbor Caregiver

Indirect Services

16. Director/Administrator (multi-site)
20. Education/Curriculum Coordinator
22. Other Indirect Services

What's Next

After an application is submitted, the process is as follows:

  • The applicant will immediately receive an e-mail confirming that their application was received at ISAC.
  • If the application, including required documentation, is incomplete, the applicant will receive a letter from ISAC explaining the reason(s) and advising how to resolve the issue.
  • After ISAC determines that both the ECACE Scholarship application and the FAFSA have been submitted, the applicant will receive a letter stating that their application is considered complete. Unless changes are needed for any of the application data, there is nothing more for the applicant to do at this point.
    • If an applicant needs to change their response(s) to any item(s) and/or update any information after the application has been submitted, they will need to provide the information to ISAC as outlined in the Changes to Application Data section of the Students & Parents ECACE page.