Empower Illinois & Big Shoulders Tax Credit Scholarships

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Tax Credit Scholarships

Through the Invest in Kids Act, the state of Illinois has created a new way to fund scholarships for children from low-income households who want to attend private schools. The tax credit scholarships (TCS) offered through this program could cover up to 100 percent of tuition and fees for eligible students in grades K-8. Northside Catholic Academy is an eligible private school. Empower Illinois and Big Shoulders are both Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGO). Families apply directly to SGOs to obtain a TCS. 


Empower Illinois
Applications will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, through Empower Illinois. Empower Illinois is reopening its Tax Credit Scholarship applications on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 6:30 p.m. This will be a two-step process. The first step will be to complete a brief online form with your name and contact information, your child’s name and preferred school on Wednesday, January 13 at 6:30 p.m. You will then click submit at 7:00 p.m. This will time stamp your application and reserve your place in line. The Middle School will open at 6:00 pm on this day and have computers and staff available to assist with registration. After reserving your place in line, families will be emailed a unique link to complete the formal application. Once families receive their unique link, they will be able to access Part Two in their empowerXchange portal. Part two is when you will upload household and income documents, and complete the full application. After receiving the application email, families will have about a week to complete the application and submit all required documents. Families will be able to complete the application at their own pace, and Empower Illinois will have support available through their website and phone helpline.

CLICK HERE for more information regarding application

Big Shoulders
The Big Shoulders TCS application will open for families on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 8:00 am. The Middle School will open at 7:30 am on this day and will have computers and staff available to assist with registration. Priority for the Big Shoulders TCS is given to eligible students who are:
  • receiving a scholarship from any TCS
  • siblings of students who are currently receiving any TCS
  • members of a household whose previous year's total annual income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level
  • residing within a focus district
Please refer to the documents below to guide you through the Big Shoulders application and go to www.bigshouldersfundsgo.org/apply/ to apply.


Other Requirements

  • Families who wish to receive financial aid through NCA for the 2021-2022 school year should initially apply for a TCS.
  • Families who apply for a TCS may also apply to NCA's Guardian Angel Scholarship Fund. Please note GASF applications are due May 1.
  • New students must also apply for admissions to Northside Catholic Academy and be accepted in order to select NCA as your school of choice on the Invest in Kids Act and Big Shoulders TCS application.
  • More information is available on the Archdiocese of Chicago website.