The Illinois Scholarship Process

To qualify for the Give Back scholarship program, students must show that they are financially eligible for Federal grant money and can meet a weighted GPA standard of 3.0.    Part of our application process includes a tool that will help applicants understand their Pell Grant eligibility.  We encourage students and their families to participate in the information sessions and at least initial stages of the application process before determining on their own if they are eligible.  

In Illinois, during your ninth grade year:

  • OCTOBER Attend one of OUR mandatory Information Sessions.  Live sessions have concluded for the 2020-2021 application season.  Please watch the recording linked below.

    Please watch this recorded video before continuing with step 2.  If you are interested in applying for this scholarship, please fill out the interest form at the conclusion of the video.
    Click here to view a recording of the live information session.

  • Please Complete the Giveback eligibility calculator.
    The Giveback Eligibility Calculator (GEC) will be shared at the Information Sessions.  This is the tool we use to help families understand whether or not they are Pell Grant eligible.To access the GEC please Click here or visit: 
    Please click here for instructions on completing the GECPLEASE ENSURE YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE giveback eligibility calculator BY December 4TH, 2020.

    Attend one of our Application Night Sessions.
    These Sessions will help families review our application process and see how our organization works with the grants that may be available to help you pay for college. See below for locations, dates and times for the Application Night Sessions.   

    Please click here for a recording of one of our application night sessions

  • BEFORE FEBRUARY 16th, 2021 Complete a scholarship application.

    If your household is financially eligible and the student’s GPA meets our requirements, then an application must be completed.  You may complete the application on-line at:

    Important: If you have not completed step 2 (the Giveback eligibility calculator) you will not be able to access the application

    If you are unable to complete the application online, please feel free to complete our paper application.  Please ensure it is postmarked by the due date.  The paper application is available upon request (please contact us via phone 815.834.8400 or email-

    The application requires household financial information (tax returns), grade reports (current and 2 previous years), and reference letters (one school reference and one personal, out of school reference).  Additionally, if you have any of the special circumstances that we look for (homelessness, foster care, incarcerated parent), please prepare to provide documentation of those circumstances.

  • MARCH Participate in an interview.If a student is accepted for further consideration, we will schedule an interview.
    Final determinations
    By April at the latest, all applicants will be notified of the scholarship selection committee’s final decision.