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Private school scholarship applications to be available one month after website crashed

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A provision in the Illinois school funding plan may provide tax credits for people who donate to private school scholarships.
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A provision in the Illinois school funding plan may provide tax credits for people who donate to private school scholarships.

An important date is coming up for parents who are interested in sending their children to K-12 private schools through new scholarships in Illinois.

At 7 p.m. Feb. 27, the application system will reopen after crashing Jan. 31, the first day applications were accepted. Empower Illinois, one of the organizations overseeing the scholarship program, stated at the time that the shutdown was due to “extreme demand.”

Parents who meet certain income requirements will apply through Empower Illinois for scholarships that can be used at private schools in St. Clair, Madison, Monroe, Clinton or Randolph counties.

Rather than everyone applying at once, Empower Illinois has a plan to spread the process out “over the course of a few weeks.”

Families will first fill out an online form at empowerillinois.org on Feb. 27 with their contact information, as well as their child’s name and the school he or she wants to attend in the 2018-19 school year. The website will be accessible from mobile devices, according to Empower Illinois.

That form is time-stamped when it is submitted because the scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

In the order they submitted the forms, parents will start receiving a link in an email from the organization where they will complete their application within at least three days.

“Our goal with this two-step process is to make it easier for families and provide more time to ensure your application is accurate and complete,” Empower Illinois wrote to newsletter subscribers.

At least one scholarship has already been awarded by Empower Illinois. The state imposed a deadline of Feb. 1 to starting doling the money out. Despite the Jan. 31 application site crash, the organization stated that it had a small pool of students who completed the process.

Anyone who started an application Jan. 31 will have to start over on Feb. 27, according to Empower Illinois.

Visit empowerillinois.org/students for more information.

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