The number of scholarships made through this program, as well as the individual dollar amount awarded, are subject to sufficient annual appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly and the governor.
The Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program encourages academically talented Illinois students, especially minority students, to pursue teaching careers, especially at high-need, hard-to-staff schools by providing tuition assistance (tuition, fees and room and board or commuter allowance) at one of the participating colleges. You may qualify for up to $2,500 as a freshman or sophomore, and up to $5,000 as a junior or senior.
As part of the application process, you must agree to teach, on a full-time basis, for a period of not less than five years at nonprofit Illinois public, private or parochial preschool, or an Illinois public elementary or secondary school considered a School of Need. You must begin teaching within two years of the completion of your degree or certificate program for which the assistance was awarded. If the teaching commitment is not fulfilled, the award will convert to a loan, which must be repaid, with interest.
To be eligible, you must:
- be named as a Golden Apple Scholar by the Golden Apple Foundation
- be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- be a resident of Illinois (if you are dependent, both you and your parent/guardian must be residents of Illinois)
- be a high school graduate or hold a General Educational Development (GED) certificate
- be enrolled at a four-year institution designated as a participating college by the Golden Apple Foundation
- be enrolled in a postsecondary course of study leading to initial teacher licensure or taking additional courses needed to gain Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approval to teach, including alternative teacher licensure
- enter into a program agreement and promissory note with the Golden Apple Foundation and ISAC
- participate in all required programs and adhere to residential guidelines and standards of conduct as a designated Golden Apple Scholar
- not receive funds from the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) Program or the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program during the same term(s) for which you receive funds from the Golden Apple program.
- earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (if a sophomore, junior or senior)
Qualified applicants may receive Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program benefits for the equivalent of four academic years (eight semesters or 12 quarters).
Applications to receive tuition assistance as a Golden Apple Scholar will be provided to qualified applicants by the Golden Apple Foundation. The Foundation will identify to ISAC those applicants eligible to receive tuition assistance, and will certify that all eligibility requirements have been met and that the applicant has signed a Program Agreement and Promissory Note, promising to repay the entire amount, plus interest, if the teaching commitment is not fulfilled.
ISAC works with the college to disburse funds for this program. The college certifies student eligibility and then submits a payment request on behalf of the student. ISAC processes the payment request and submits the information to the State Comptroller’s Office. Dependent on the level of State of Illinois funding at the time of the request, the amount of time it takes for funds to arrive at the college can vary anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Depending on the college, students may be responsible for payment until program funds are received. Qualified applicants who are awaiting receipt of funds from this program should contact the financial aid office or business office to determine the college's policy.
All Scholars agree to teach for five years in an Illinois School of Need.
The required five year teaching commitment must start within two years after completion of the degree or certificate program for which the scholarship was awarded (for scholarships received prior to the 2013-14 academic year, award recipients were required to begin their teaching commitments within one year after completion of the degree or certificate program).
A comparison chart provides a side-by-side view of the following programs, which are designed specifically for individuals studying to become teachers: Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois, Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship, Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) and federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant.