JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program

Program News

(last updated January 9, 2023)

2022-23 Payment (submit first- and second-term claims by February 24, 2023)
2022-23 Prequalification
2022-23 Student List Available
2022-23 Application

2022-23

Payment

Important dates and reminders for 2022-23 ECACE Scholarship payment processing:

  • 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. 
    • The second-term payment request deadline is Friday, February 24, 2023.
    • Although the first-term payment request deadline date was December 30, 2022, ISAC is continuing to accept and pay first-term claims.
    • The timely submission of claims and cancellations/adjustments allows ISAC staff to monitor remaining funds and award other students, as applicable.

As announced in a January 9 e-Message, first- and second-term payment requests for the 2022-23 ECACE Scholarship Program can be completed online and submitted electronically to ISAC via the ECACE system.

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. 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."

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 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. 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.

Beginning in January 2023, ECACE payment results are available twice per week (on Tuesdays and Fridays). 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.

Effective December 2022, a new report for tracking payment vouchers and warrants is available via the ECACE system. The new 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 now track payment vouchers and warrants via the ECACE system, ISAC no longer sends e-mails with ECACE Scholarship voucher data 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

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Prequalification

Effective July 28, 2022, prequalification data for the 2022-23 ECACE Scholarship Program – based on the eligibility data reported by the applicants on their applications – is available in the ECACE system. New for the 2022-23 processing cycle, prequalification results are available twice each week: on Wednesday and Friday mornings.

An ECACE Scholarship record is considered prequalified if the student has completed the online application process – which includes submitting an 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 they meet all initial eligibility requirements (i.e., requirements other than those that must be verified by the college).

Further details are provided at the ECACE Prequalification page, and in e-Messages dated July 26 and August 19. The ECACE User Guide, which may be accessed via the ECACE Electronic Processing page, is being updated to reflect 2022-23 system-related changes.

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Student List Available

Effective July 26, 2022, 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 applications that have been reviewed by ISAC staff and list the institution as the college the student plans to attend (i.e., complete, incomplete and ineligible based on student-reported data applications may be included). If an applicant submits additional documentation for a previously-listed incomplete or ineligible application, that record will be removed from the "Student List Eligibility: View" screen until after ISAC staff has reviewed the new documentation.

Further details are provided in e-Messages dated July 26 and August 19.

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Applications

The 2022-23 ECACE Scholarship Program interactive application remains 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. Encourage students to submit both the ECACE application and the FAFSA on or before the priority consideration date.

The priority consideration date for the 2022-23 application was July 15, 2022. Applications received after that date (i.e., untimely applications) will be given consideration if 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.

Further details, including proof of employment requirements andd sample notifications that are sent to applicants, are provided at the Application Procedures for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program page.

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