JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program Payment

Payment
Disbursement
Payment Offset and Reconciliation

Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarships are paid directly to the approved institution of record which certified the applicant's eligibility by submitting a payment request (claim). ECACE Scholarship Program awards are paid with federal funds. ISAC processes ECACE Scholarship authorizations for payment (i.e., invoices), and colleges receive payment from the Illinois State Comptroller's Office, on a monthly basis. Funds are issued by the State Comptroller directly to the institution. Schools may submit ECACE Scholarship claims beginning 10 days prior to the start of the term for which payment is being requested.

2022-23 ECACE Scholarship Priority Payment Request Deadline Dates

As part of our ongoing efforts to best leverage appropriated funds to award as many eligible students as possible, priority payment request deadline dates are established for each term.

  • First-term Priority Payment Request Deadline Date: Friday, December 30, 2022
  • Second-term Priority Payment Request Deadline Date: Friday, February 24, 2023
  • Third-term Priority Payment Request Deadline Date: Not Yet Determined

Payment

ECACE Scholarship payment processing is done using the ECACE system within the GAP Access portal. Financial aid staff must have the appropriate level of access in order to view payment request data and/or submit claims. The school's primary administrator or a designated administrator is responsible for authorizing access levels.

Colleges determine the term award amount(s) for eligible recipients based on cost of attendance and other aid received. The ECACE Scholarship:

  • is intended to be last payer, after all other aid has been provided.
  • may be used to replace student loans that might otherwise have been part of the student’s aid package.

Colleges can request payment for individual students via the ECACE “Student Detail: Payment” screen or in batches for a group of students via the “Payment Request Entry” screen.

Applications with Timely New, Timely Renewal, Untimely New and Untimely Renewal designations are all considered complete and schools are encouraged to submit payment requests for these students as soon as possible. The timely submission of payment requests allows ISAC staff to monitor program funding levels and ensure that available dollars are best leveraged to award as many scholarships as possible without exceeding the appropriation.

Submitting payment requests is a two-step process, which involves generating the request and then submitting the request. By submitting a payment request to ISAC via the ECACE system, a college is certifying that the student meets all eligibility criteria. If a college determines that a prequalified applicants does not meet all eligibility requirements, they report the reason for ineligibility via the ECACE system. For example, if an applicant already has a bachelor's degree, the school must indicate that they are ineligible by selecting the ineligibility reason of "Applicant holds a bachelor's degree."

Beginning in January 2023, payment results are available in the ECACE system twice per week  (Tuesday and Friday mornings). A Payment Result Summary and Invoice Detail Report can be viewed or printed by selecting the report tab in the ECACE system once payment results are available. The report includes Payment Results and Payment Exceptions as well as Invoice Detail about the payment claim. The Payment Results/Exceptions report should be reviewed regularly to see which requests, if any, did not process as expected.

Refer to the payment section of the ECACE User Guide for a list of result codes, as well as details about how to submit a payment request, use the sort and filter functions, and obtain payment reports. Refer to the ECACE Electronic Processing page for details about accessing the ECACE system and hours of operation.

A report for tracking payment vouchers and warrants is available via the ECACE system. The report (which may be accessed via the Reports section, and is identified by the same red PDF icon that appears with the “Payment Results/Exceptions” report) provides payment voucher and warrant information, dependent upon where the payment is in the process.

  • Once ISAC processes a payment request and sends it to the State Comptroller, the report will appear with the following title format: (Program) Voucher INV mm-dd-yyyy SCH xxx.
    • At this time, the “WARRANT NO.” and “WARRANT DATE” fields on the report will be blank.
  • The last page of the report provides invoice information, including the amount due to the school and the invoice number.
    • This same invoice number also will be referenced on the voucher from the State Comptroller, authorizing payment.
  • The voucher number will be referenced on the check (payment).
  • The “WARRANT NO.” and “WARRANT DATE” fields will populate on the report after the State Comptroller has authorized payment for the voucher.
    • Once this happens, the title format will be: (Program) Warrant INV mm-dd-yyyy SCH xxx.

Because colleges may track payment vouchers and warrants via the ECACE system, ISAC does not send e-mails with ECACE Scholarship voucher data to financial aid directors.

Disbursement

Awards are disbursed per the discretion of the college. There are no term limits, but the total requested for all terms cannot exceed the Scholar’s annual award during any academic year.

ISAC authorizes a voucher in the amount of the payment invoice and submits it to the State Comptroller's Office, which issues payment to the institution. Colleges can match the invoice number on the Payment Results/Exceptions report with the payment voucher.

Upon receipt of the scholarship funds from the Comptroller, the college should verify the student's enrollment status for the term for which the award was intended.

  • If the recipient is enrolled, the institution may credit the scholarship funds to the recipient’s account for expenses due and payable. If appropriate, any balance is to be returned to the recipient.
  • If the recipient has withdrawn, or if the college has reduced the amount of the award so as not to exceed the cost of attendance, the college must indicate the reason on the ECACE “Student Detail: Payment” screen. The ECACE system will deobligate the award and the amount will offset a future payment to the college.

If a student fails to meet any of the eligibility requirements during the academic year, all undisbursed funds will be deobligated.

Payment Offset and Reconciliation

Payment offset and reconciliation procedures apply to ECACE Scholarship payment processing. Refund checks should not be sent for cancellations/adjustments made throughout the award year. Funds should only be returned to ISAC after a final reconciliation has been completed at the end of the regular school year.

Details regarding the Payment Offset and Reconciliation process is located in the Refunds and Unpaid Claims section of the Processes area.