Welcome to the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program application.
Please read the important information here, and on our website, about the program and how to make sure your application is completed correctly before it is submitted. Before you start this application, it's a good idea to gather the documents you will need and complete the required Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to prevent a delay in the application process. Refer to the Completing the Application and Required Documentation sections below for details. Your information will not be saved if you exit the application before completing and submitting it, and you will need to start over.
If you have a Student Portal profile, some of the application information will be prepopulated for you if you sign in before starting the application. If you need to create a profile, access the Student Portal and click on Login.
If you work or have worked in early childhood education and are seeking additional credentials and/or a degree in early childhood education, you may be eligible for the ECACE Program.
The scholarship covers the total cost of attendance for an academic year (including summer) minus other financial aid received, for students attending community colleges and public universities. Students at non-profit private institutions may receive an amount no more than the cost of the most expensive program of study in the early childhood education field at an Illinois public college. Assistance is available for undergraduate study; if you already hold a bachelor's degrees in any field, you are not considered an undergraduate and are not eligible for the ECACE Program.
Program Eligibility Requirements
- Workforce Requirement - you must be a member of the incumbent workforce, currently working or having worked in the early childhood field, including family child care and center-based care settings, Preschool for All school-based settings and Head Start, that serve children from birth to age 5 and includes teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care providers and assistants. Recipients are expected to continue or return to teaching or direct services in the early childhood care and education field in Illinois after they complete their program of study.
- Additional Requirements
- You must be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
- You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment on a full- or part-time (at least 3 credit hours) basis at a public or non-profit private 2- or 4-year Gateways-entitled and Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) member institution.
You must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment for at least 3 credit hours in a course of study which, upon completion, qualifies you to receive:
- If attending a 4-year institution, be at the junior level or above, or hold an Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree focused in early childhood education.
- a postsecondary credential or undergraduate degree* in the field of early childhood education, or
- a Professional Educator's License in early childhood education.
*If you already hold a bachelor's degree in any field, you are not eligible for ECACE.You must maintain satisfactory academic progress, as determined by your college.You must establish satisfactory repayment arrangements if you are in default on any federal student loan.You must be certified as meeting eligibility requirements by the college at which you will use the scholarship.You do not have to demonstrate financial need to receive this scholarship, although applicants are prioritized for awarding from among the neediest according to information from the FAFSA.
Completing the Application
Read and follow all instructions and prompts as you answer the questions. Once your completed application is submitted, we will send immediate confirmation to your e-mail address that your application has been received at ISAC.
You must submit a new application each year you wish to be considered for the scholarship. Each year you submit an ECACE Scholarship Program application, you are also required to complete and submit the FAFSA. To determine your eligibility, the ECACE-participating Illinois college you plan to attend must be listed on the FAFSA. Both the ECACE application and the FAFSA must be completed and submitted on or before the priority consideration date.
If you have not already filed your FAFSA, click on the link to access the FAFSA® website. If you haven't filed an online FAFSA before, you will first need to create an FSA ID at studentaid.gov/fsa-id to login and use as your electronic signature. Once you access the online FAFSA, you will be asked to choose the school year for which you will be completing the FAFSA. This will need to be the same year as the ECACE application you are submitting.
Be sure the financial aid office at the college you plan to attend knows you will be enrolling and that you have submitted an ECACE Scholarship Program application.
Making Changes after Application Submitted
If you need to change your response(s) to any item(s) and/or update any information after your application has been submitted, you will need to provide the information to ISAC as outlined in the Changes to Application Data section of the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program page at isac.org.
You must provide proof of your employment in the incumbent workforce through an Eligibility Verification Form as part of the application process. Incumbent workforce is defined as having worked in the early childhood field, including family child care and center-based care settings, Preschool for All school-based settings, and Head Start, that serve children from birth to age 5 and includes teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care providers and assistants.
Use the information below to obtain the document needed to complete your ECACE application. No other documentation of your employment history will be accepted.
You must submit an Eligibility Verification Form, with an eligible position code(s)*, from the Gateways to Opportunity® Registry as documentation that you are a member of the incumbent workforce in either an Illinois Department of Children & Family Services-licensed or a license-exempt facility. If you're not already a Gateways Registry member, access the Registry Membership page to join. Once your registration is complete and you have access to the Registry Portal, your Eligibility Verification Form can be downloaded and/or printed, and then uploaded during the ECACE application process.
*Eligible position codes - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 20, 22, 25
You will not be permitted to proceed through this application without uploading the required documentation. Acceptable uploaded files must have one of the following file extensions: .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .doc, .docx.
Because you will be providing confidential information about yourself while completing this application, be sure to protect your personal data by closing the browser when you are finished. In addition, do not set a bookmark for application pages.
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