Illinois’ private school scholarship program starts in 2018

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Private schools in Illinois are hoping to see more donations and students next year thanks to a new state tax credit program.

It's called the Invest in Kids Act, and Illinois lawmakers created the program as part of a school funding agreement they reached this summer.

Beginning in January, individuals and businesses who donate to a private school scholarship fund can receive a 75 percent tax credit on their Illinois state taxes.

"The scholarship money from the businesses and individuals will go to our area, and like I say, we're pretty excited about it. The other benefit is people's state tax money is able to stay local," said Dave DeJaegher, business manager at Alleman High School.

Donors can direct their money to a specific school, such as Alleman, Seton, Jordan, or Our Lady of Grace, or an entire region of schools.

Scholarships will then be awarded to low-income families, covering anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of their tuition costs.

"The goal of the act is to give families options," said DeJaegher.

All donations to the program are handled by a nonprofit, rather than the state or the diocese. In the Quad City area, the scholarship granting organization is Empower Illinois.

"I think it's important for people to know that your donations don't go to the state of Illinois and get mixed up in all that, but it actually goes to this organization, and then they distribute the funds," explained DeJaegher.

Donors can reserve tax credits on the Illinois Department of Revenue website beginning January 2, 2018.

Families are able to apply for scholarships for the 2018-2019 school year starting January 24, 2018.

For more detailed information on how to donate or apply, click here.