JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program

Program News

(last updated November 8, 2023)

2023-24 Payment
2023-24 Prequalification
2023-24 Student List Available
2023-24 Applications
2022-23 Reconciliation – Due to ISAC Notifications (submit 2022-23 outstanding amount due as soon as possible)



As announced in an August 21 e-Message, colleges may submit (via the ECACE system) 2023-24 ECACE Scholarship first-term payment requests (i.e., claims) for students who have completed the prequalification process. In order to be considered timely, first-term payment requests for the 2023-24 ECACE Scholarship Program must be submitted on or before Friday, December 29, 2023.

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 applicant does not meet all eligibility requirements, they report the reason for ineligibility via the ECACE system.

The maximum award amount that may be claimed during the academic year populates in the "Max Annual Award Amount" field of the ECACE system as part of the prequalification process. Colleges must determine the term award amount(s) based on other financial aid the student is receiving, keeping in mind that the ECACE Scholarship is last payer, is not need-based aid, and can be used for any cost of attendance component.

Applications with Timely New, Timely Renewal, Untimely New and Untimely Renewal designations are all considered complete. Schools are encouraged to submit payment requests for complete prequalified 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. Submit claims for individual ECACE Scholarship recipients via the "Student Detail: Payment" screen or in batches for a group of students via the "Payment Request Entry" screen.

Payment results are available in the ECACE system each morning. A Payment Result Summary and Invoice Detail Report can be viewed or printed by selecting the report tab in the ECACE system. 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. Retain a copy of the report for each payment request submitted, so that the invoice number on the report can be matched with the voucher and the funds received from the State Comptroller's Office. After payment requests are processed, vouchers are generated and sent via e-mail to financial aid directors.

The disbursement of funds is processed by the State Comptroller's Office, and payments are made on a monthly basis. Allow four to six weeks for payment processing (i.e., from the date a claim is submitted until funds are received at the college). Refer to the State Comptroller's Website page for information on how to track payment.

For more information, refer to the following resources on ISAC's website:

ECACE Payment
ECACE Electronic Processing
ECACE User Guide (updated to reflect the 2023-24 processing cycle) 


Prequalification data for the 2023-24 ECACE Scholarship Program – based on the eligibility data reported by the applicants on their applications – is now available in the ECACE system.

Only records for students who have completed the online application process – which includes submitting a complete ECACE Scholarship Program application to ISAC and completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) that results in a valid expected family contribution (EFC) – and who meet all initial eligibility requirements (i.e., requirements other than those that must be verified by the college) are considered for prequalification.

Further details are provided at the ECACE Prequalification page, and in an August 2 e-Message. The ECACE User Guide, which may be accessed via the ECACE Electronic Processing page, has been updated to reflect the 2023-24 processing cycle.

Student List Available

A July 13 e-Message announces that colleges may view a listing of ECACE records by accessing the ECACE system and selecting the Student tab to display the "Student List Eligibility: View" screen. Data is displayed for all applications listing the institution as the college the student plans to attend (i.e., complete, incomplete and ineligible based on student-reported data applications are included).


The 2023-24 ECACE Scholarship Program interactive application is now available via the Program Applications & Status Checks area of the ISAC Student Portal.

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.

Both the ECACE application and the FAFSA must be completed and submitted on or before the date for priority access to funding. That date for the 2023-24 application is August 7, 2023. Applications received after that date will be given consideration if funding remains available after all timely, qualified applicants have been awarded.

Further details, including proof of employment requirements, are provided at the Application Procedures for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program page.

What's Next

New in the ECACE system for the 2023-24 processing cycle (further details will be provided as they become available):

  • The “Academic Level” field will reflect expanded eligibility requirements, which now include graduate students;
  • Ineligible reasons based on graduate status have been removed; and,
  • “Job Title” – a new required field on the application – will display.

Colleges will be notified when 2023-24 eligibility data and prequalification functionality become available in the ECACE system.

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Reconciliation – Due to ISAC Notifications

Notifications detailing the outstanding amount that must be refunded to ISAC for 2022-23 ECACE Scholarships were e-mailed to financial aid directors in August, with a due date of September 29, 2023. While that deadline has passed, outstanding amounts still need to be refunded. If not already done, review the information in the notification and return the appropriate amount – along with a completed Gift Assistance Programs Refund Check Formas soon as possible.

Details about returning funds to ISAC and the payment offset and reconciliation process are provided in the Refunds and Unpaid Claims section of the Processes area.

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