JB Pritzker, Governor, State of Illinois

Nursing Education Scholarship Program (NESP)

The administration of NESP is being transitioned from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to ISAC during the 2022-23 academic year. Refer to the “Processing Updates” section below for information about the current status.

You may either scroll through this page, or click on any of the following links to go directly to a specific topic:

Program Description
Participating Schools
How to Apply
Changes to Application Data
How Funds Are Disbursed
Processing Updates

If you are pursuing a certificate in practical nursing, an associates degree in nursing, a hospital-based diploma in nursing or a bachelor’s or graduate degree in nursing and demonstrate the greatest financial need among qualified students, you may be qualified to receive the Nursing Education Scholarship. If awarded, you must begin full- or part-time employment as a licensed practical or registered nurse in Illinois within six months of graduating, and remain employed for a period equivalent to the educational time supported by the scholarship. If you terminate studies, or fail to become employed, you will be required to repay the full scholarship amount, plus seven-percent interest per year.

The number of years for which you may receive funding from this program is based on the certificate, diploma, or degree being pursued.

Certificate, Diploma, or Degree Pursued: Maximum Years of Scholarship Assistance:
Certificate in Practical Nursing One Academic Year
Associate Degree in Nursing Two Academic Years
Hospital-Based Diploma in Nursing Three Academic Years
Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing Four Academic Years
Graduate Degree in Nursing Five Academic Years
Graduate Degree in Nursing to become a Nurse Educator Three Academic Years

The scholarship pays for coursework within the nursing curriculum, but does not pay for pre-requisite coursework.

Full-time students may receive a stipend (part-time students are not eligible for a stipend).

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  • be a U.S. citizen or an eligible non citizen or meet the "undocumented student" criteria of the RISE Act
  • be an Illinois resident for at least one year prior to the date of application
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment to a nursing program in Illinois that is approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation or the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
  • demonstrate financial need
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress, as determined by your college
  • establish satisfactory repayment arrangements if you are in default on any federal student loan
  • sign an Application/Promissory Note/Grant Agreement promising to fulfill the employment commitment or repay funds received plus interest.

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Participating Schools

To view a listing of Illinois colleges approved to participate in this program, click on the link for the appropriate academic year:


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How to Apply

The NESP application period each year starts on March 1 and continues through April 30. The NESP Application/Promissory Note/Grant Agreement is accessed online via the Program Applications & Status Checks area of the Student Portal. The online application has built-in edits to prevent errors, and we will send immediate confirmation to your e-mail address that your application has been received. If your application is incomplete, you will receive a letter from ISAC explaining the reason(s) and advising how to resolve the issue.

The 2022-23 and 2023-24 application periods are closed. To be considered for the 2023-24 academic year, the NESP Application/Promissory Note/Grant Agreement must have been submitted to ISAC on or before April 30, 2023.

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Changes to Application Data

Only one application for this program may be submitted per academic year. Consequently, if you need to change your response(s) to any item(s) and/or update any information after the application has been submitted, you will need to provide the information to ISAC. Examples of items that may need to be updated include demographic information (i.e., name, address, telephone number, etc.), your college of record and the impacted terms (e.g., full year, or fall or spring semester). These changes can be submitted to ISAC using one of the below methods, but cannot be done over the telephone.

The request must include the last four digits of your Social Security number (for identification purposes) and clearly state what change(s) need to be made. These changes will not affect the application "received date." In order to allow adequate processing time and prevent a loss of benefits, changes to your college of record should to be reported prior to the beginning of the applicable term(s).

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How Funds are Disbursed

ISAC works with the school to disburse funds for this program. The school 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 school can vary anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Depending on the school, 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 school’s policy.

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Processing Updates

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 2023-24 Academic Year

(last updated May 9, 2023)

The 2023-24 NESP application is no longer being accepted.

To be considered for funds during the 2023-24 academic year, the NESP Application/Promissory Note/Grant Agreement must have been submitted to ISAC on or before April 30, 2023.

Applicants who submitted an unsigned application prior to the April 30, 2023 deadline were sent a notification of incomplete application. Individuals whose applications were still unsigned in early May 2023 were then sent an e-mail informing them that their signed Application/Promissory Note/Grant Agreement must be received at ISAC no later than May 31, 2023, in order to determine their eligibility for an award. Questions regarding this process may be directed to the ISAC Call Center.

For the 2022-23 Academic Year

(last updated May 17, 2023)

The administration of the NESP is being transitioned from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to ISAC. Ongoing work to build systems and fully implement the program will continue through the academic year.

  • Disbursement of spring term awards took place in mid-May of 2023 for award recipients who have signed their Grant Agreement/Promissory Notes. Scholarships funds are disbursed directly to the college. Recipients are encouraged to contact the financial aid office with questions about how the award will be applied to their student accounts.
  • Disbursement of fall term awards has taken place. For award recipients who have signed their Grant Agreement/Promissory Notes, scholarship funds were disbursed directly to the college.
  • NESP recipients received e-mail messages on December 6 that contained instructions for signing and submitting the required Grant Agreements/Promissory Notes. Disbursement of NESP funds cannot occur until a recipient's signed agreement is in place. Recipients access and sign agreements through the Program Applications & Status Checks area of the ISAC Student Portal.
  • Applicants received notification of their eligibility status from the IDPH earlier in the year. Recipients should refer to the awarding statement received from IDPH for award details, including the award amount.
  • On November 30, NESP recipients were sent an e-mail message from ISAC containing information about the transition of the program to ISAC, along with next steps and the anticipated timeline for disbursements.

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