Preschool Development Grant Birth-5 Education Reimbursement Initiative

This is your chance to apply for funds to support continuing your education and working toward your next credential or degree during 2021. If you have attended, or currently attend, an accredited Illinois college or university, you can apply for a maximum of $600 to repay existing debt owed directly to your higher education institution. 

Funding will be given to early educators working with children ages birth through five who are employed by an Illinois early childhood program and are currently enrolled in coursework at an accredited Illinois college or university. Illinois early educators who are attempting to enroll in coursework at an accredited Illinois college or university but are blocked from doing so due to a current outstanding balance may also apply.

To download the application pdf click here (1.18 MB) .  Please note that applications for this program are being accepted via email only. Completed applications and supporting documentation should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Have questions about the Preschool Development Grant Birth-5 Education Reimbursement Initiative? Click This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to email us with your questions.

To apply for Registry membership or ensure that your information is up to date, please click here.


Frequently Ask Questions

What is the Preschool Development Grant Birth-5 Education Reimbursement Initiative?
This initiative is an opportunity for early educators to continue their education and overcome barriers or obstacles to earning their degree or credential. Educators can apply for a maximum of $600 to pay an outstanding balance due to, or can be reimbursed for payment(s) made directly to, an accredited Illinois college or university. Debt owed or payments made to student loans or to collection agencies are not eligible for reimbursement.

Who is eligible to receive funding?
Funding will be given to early educators working with children ages birth through five who are employed by an Illinois early childhood program and are currently enrolled in coursework at an accredited Illinois college or university.

Illinois early educators who are attempting to enroll in coursework at an accredited Illinois college or university but are blocked from doing so due to a current outstanding balance may also apply.

What happens if the application I submit is incomplete?
Incomplete applications will not be reviewed or returned. Those who submit an incomplete application will be notified. Educators may resubmit their application for reimbursement with any previously missing or incomplete information. 

Where do I send my completed application?
Scan and email your completed application and required documentation to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Applications will not be accepted via mail or drop off. 

If I have previously received funds through the Preschool Development Grant Birth-5 Education Reimbursement Initiative, can I apply again?
No. Funding will not be issued to anyone who has already received reimbursement through this initiative.

How will I be notified that my application has been received?
Notifications for this program will be sent via email. Due to this, please ensure that your email address is updated in your Gateways to Opportunity Registry account.

If I am not currently working because my site is closed due to COVID-19, can I still apply?
Yes, though you may need to submit documentation other than pay stubs to prove employment.

If you work for a child care center that is currently closed due to COVID-19, you must submit a signed letter from your Director on company letterhead noting the following:

  • Hire Date
  • Position
  • Years of Service
  • Current rate of pay

What documentation do I provide to show that I am currently enrolled in coursework at an accredited Illinois college or university? 
Documentation should be dated within the past 60 days and clearly show the student name, school name, and current balance due. The term for which a balance is owed and all financial aid received for that term should also be clearly noted. 

Examples of acceptable documentation include: 

  • Current itemized student account ledger 
  • Student grade report for current term and current student account statement 

Documentation that does not provide all required items as noted will result in an incomplete application that cannot be processed. 

If I am not able to enroll in coursework at an accredited Illinois college or university because of an outstanding balance due, what documentation do I provide to show that I am unable to enroll?  
Documentation should be dated within the past 60 days and clearly show the student name, school name, and balance due. Confirmation that enrollment is blocked until the balance due has been paid should also be clearly noted. 

Examples of acceptable documentation include: 

  • Signed letter from the Bursar’s Office 
  • Current itemized student account ledger 
  • Official letter/correspondence from the school 

Documentation that does not provide all required items as noted will result in an incomplete application that cannot be processed.


The [publication or project] described was made possible by grant number 90TP0057. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

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