Am I eligible for a Gateways Scholarship?

Eligible for Gateways Scholarship

You could receive a Gateways Scholarship to help pay for your college coursework if you...

  1. Care for children in an Illinois DCFS licensed program or ISBE funded Preschool for All program.

    Employed by an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed full-day/full-year child care program in one of the following positions: center director, assistant director, teacher, assistant teacher, school-age teacher, school-age assistant, family child care provider, family child care assistant, group home provider, or group home assistant.


    Employed by an IDCFS licensed school-age care program, within an early childhood setting, operating nine months per year in one of the following positions: director, assistant director, teacher, or assistant teacher.


    Employed by an ISBE funded Preschool for All program that operates a minimum of nine months per year, as a teacher or teacher's aide.

  2. Have been employed at your current program for at least one year. 
    (90 days if employed at an ExceleRate Bronze, Silver, or Gold Circle of Quality program, (90-day exception does not pertain to ISBE PFA funded staff))
  3. Work a minimum average of 15 hours per week. 
  4. Meet wage requirements.

    Your wage determines the amount the Gateways Scholarship will pay for tuition.

    % of tuition Gateways Scholarship Program Would Pay Applicant responsibility to college or university. Hourly Wage
    100 0 up to $4.25 over Illinois State Minimum Wage
    90 10 $4.26 to $7.00 over Illinois State Minimum Wage
    80 20 $7.01 to $10.00 over Illinois State Minimum Wage
    70 30 $10.01 to $13.00 over Illinois State Minimum Wage
    60 40 $13.01 to $16.00 over Illinois State Minimum Wage
    Gateways Scholarship Program will not pay out of district costs.
  5. Be a citizen of the United States, be a lawful permanent resident, or reside in the State of Illinois.
  6. Commit to future work in early care and education or school-age care depending on scholarship type.

    Work commitment periods follow:

    • Six months for completion of a coursework contract
    • One year for degree completion
    • One year for certificate, approval, or endorsement completion

    The work commitment must be completed in one of the following early care and education or school-age care programs:

    • IDCFS licensed full-day, full-year family/group child care home or center
    • IDCFS licensed school-age program operating a minimum of nine months a year 
    • ISBE funded Preschool for All program

The commitment period begins at the completion of the contract period. All scholarship contracts end on June 30.

Excelerate Program

ExceleRate Illinois helps you prepare children for success in school and in life.

It also provides standards, guidelines, resources and supports to help you make sensible changes that lead to better quality outcomes for children.