The Gateways Scholarship Program will pay a portion of tuition for eligible professionals working in early care and education or school-age programs who want to earn college credit, Credentials, or degrees. The courses you take need to be in early childhood education (ECE) or child development (CD). You can be enrolled in an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree program or taking classes toward a certificate, endorsement, or Credential. Explore this section to find eligibility requirements, how to apply, and what your responsibilities are if you are awarded a Gateways Scholarship. We have also answered many of the most common questions and provide lots of details in our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible to receive a Gateways Scholarship, you must:
Care for children in an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed program or Illinois State Board of Education funded Preschool for All program.
Employed by your current program for at least a one year. (90 days if employed at an ExceleRate Bronze, Silver or Gold Circle of Quality program.)
Work an average of 15 hours per week.
Meet wage requirements.
Be a citizen of the United States or a legal resident.
Commit to future work in early care and education or school-age care.
Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain Teachers) is a wage supplement program that acknowledges child care practitioners who have completed college coursework, and stay at their current place of employment. Great START recipients are sent a check every six months (based on continued eligibility) to supplement their income.
Who is eligible?
Consider applying for the Great START program if all of the following apply to you:
Care for Illinois children
Employed by an eligible program
Work in an eligible position
Have been employed by the same program for a required minimum amount of time
Work an average of at least 15 hours per week
Earn $18.00 per hour or less and $37,440.00 per year or less