State Scholar Program
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- Program Description
- Approved High Schools
- Selection and Notification Process
- Processing Updates
The State Scholar Program recognizes students attending approved high schools (typically, Illinois public high schools; see the Approved High Schools section on this page for further details) for outstanding academic achievement. State scholar designation provides honorary recognition with no monetary award. Approximately the top ten percent of graduates from approved high schools are announced as State Scholars each year. The year designation given to State Scholars (for example, 20XX-XX) applies to the year students will begin their postsecondary education.
To be considered for State Scholar eligibility, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen or meet the “undocumented student” criteria of the RISE Act
- Be a resident of Illinois
- Attend an approved high school
- Take the ACT or SAT between August 1 and June 30 (by the end of the third semester before high school graduation*)
- Perform in the top one-half of your high school class at the end of the third semester prior to graduation*, and/or score at or above the 95th percentile on the ACT or SAT
- Graduate from high school during the academic year in which you were selected as a State Scholar
Note that meeting the requirements listed above qualifies the student to be considered for this program, but does not guarantee State Scholar designation. Each year, a specific formula is established to select State Scholars. Further details are provided in the Selection and Notification Process section, below.
*(typically the end of your junior year in high school)
Approved High Schools
Students attending Illinois public high schools, who meet all eligibility requirements, will be considered for the State Scholar Program.
In addition, students who are Illinois residents attending other high schools (located in Illinois, or elsewhere) with standards of instruction that are substantially equivalent to an Illinois public high school (as determined by the State Superintendent of Education) may also be considered. If such students list Illinois as their state of residence on the ACT and/or SAT assessment tests, they will receive a letter instructing them to work with the high school to provide ISAC with the necessary information. Students who do not list Illinois as their state of residence, but believe they may qualify for this program, should contact an ISAC Call Center Representative to discuss their situation.
Department of Defense (DOD) High Schools are an example of other schools whose Illinois resident students may be considered for the State Scholar Program, because the State Superintendent of Education has determined that the standards of instruction at DOD schools are substantially equivalent to an Illinois public high school.
Selection and Notification Process
- There is no application to complete for the State Scholar Program; standardized test scores and performance-based academic data reported by your high school are key factors in the formula used to determine if you are eligible. High school counselors must provide either the sixth semester class rank, if the school ranks, or the unweighted GPA, if the school does not rank. Sixth semester is defined as the third semester prior to graduation, which is typically the end of a student’s junior year, summer term not included.
- ISAC receives your ACT and/or SAT scores from each test's service, provided that you indicate Illinois residency and take the exam during the required timeframe
- Your high school counselor submits information to ISAC for the selection process
- Your high school then receives a Certificate of Achievement for each State Scholar at that school
- If you are named a State Scholar, you will receive a congratulatory letter from ISAC
- If you wish to verify the data used to determine your eligibility status, contact your high school
Note that ISAC routinely updates this section as new information becomes available. Be sure to check back periodically for the current processing status.
For the 2022-23 Academic Year
(last updated November 22, 2022):
Attention high school seniors:
Designation of 2023-24 State Scholars took place throughout the fall (i.e., high school seniors, who will be college freshmen during the 2023-24 academic year, were named Scholars during the fall of 2022).
Congratulatory letters from ISAC have been mailed to Scholars, and a Certificate of Achievement for each Scholar is provided to high schools. Typically, the Certificates are presented to Scholars during a high school honors ceremony, but they may be distributed based on the preferences of each high school.
Included in the congratulatory letter is information regarding a digital Illinois State Scholar badge issued by ISAC. State Scholars can display the badge on their online profiles and social media accounts, and share them with high school counselors, prospective colleges, employers, family members and others. The badges may be accessed by Scholars by visiting the ISAC Student Portal and then following the on-screen prompts or these instructions.
For the 2023-24 Academic Year
(last updated August 3, 2022):
Attention high school juniors:
Eligibility for the State Scholar Program is based, in part, on a student's highest qualifying ACT or SAT score. Although effective January 1, 2022, Illinois’ public institutions are prohibited from requiring the submission of student test scores as part of the admissions process, high school junior students who are potential State Scholar candidates will still need to take one of the accepted exams (ACT or SAT) during the specified timeframe to be considered for State Scholar designation.
For current high school juniors, only exams taken between August 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023 qualify for consideration in the State Scholar announcements that will be made during their senior year (i.e., high school juniors, who will be college freshmen during the 2024-25 academic year, will be named Scholars during the fall of 2023).