JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program Overview

The Early Childhood Access for Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program provides funds for those who are currently working or have worked in the early childhood education field and are seeking additional credentials and degrees. Recipients must attend a public or non-profit private 2- or 4-year Gateways-entitled and Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity member institution as undergraduate or – for the 2023-24 academic year – graduate students.

The program covers a recipient’s total cost of attendance at a community college or public university, less any other financial aid received. Students at participating non-profit private institutions may receive an amount no more than the cost of the most expensive undergraduate program of study in the field of early childhood education at an Illinois public college or university. The ECACE Program has been funded for the last three academic years (2021-22 through 2023-24) through federal coronavirus response dollars. It is hoped that the state legislature will consider some level of state funding for the scholarship for the 2024-25 academic year during its spring legislative session. When more information is available, updates will be posted to this page.

Recipients of the scholarship are expected to continue or return to teaching or direct services in the early childhood care and education field in Illinois after they complete their program of study.

Those interested in pursuing available early childhood education opportunities can complete the Higher Education Navigator Interest Form to be connected to someone who will walk them through all the options. A Higher Education Navigator from a local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency will reach out to anyone completing the form, and will help with finding and enrolling in the college that best meets their needs.