290 students in diocese benefit in first year of tax credit scholarship program

Nearly 300 students in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Peoria have benefited as a result of the new tax credit scholarship program in Illinois.

Dr. Susan Stolt, associate superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Peoria, reported that $1,107,592 in scholarships had been awarded to 290 students as of Dec. 18. Empower Illinois, one of six statewide scholarship granting organizations, has been processing these donations for the diocesan schools.

Signed into law on Aug. 31, 2017, and authorized for five years, the Invest in Kids Act allows individuals and corporations to make a donation to SGOs like Empower Illinois and receive a 75 percent credit on that amount when filing their state tax return. Individuals may designate the school that will benefit from their gift.

Donations received by Nov. 30 were used to award tax credit scholarships for the 2018-2019 school year, while those received Dec. 1 or later will be used to make awards during the next school year.

Donations made by Dec. 31 may be used to apply for a tax credit against an individual’s 2018 tax liability, regardless of when the scholarship is awarded.

Donations made by Dec. 31 may be used to apply for a tax credit against an individual’s 2018 tax liability, regardless of when the scholarship is awarded.

PROCESS OPENS JAN. 15

While the application process got off to a rocky start in January, Empower Illinois has revamped the portal to ensure that all goes smoothly when applications for 2019-2020 tax credit scholarships open at 7 p.m. on Jan. 15.

Stolt said it will be a two-step process. Part one involves making a reservation to complete the application, which will be time stamped.

Part two involves completing the application and Empower Illinois will let families know when they can do that, she said. It is expected to be available Jan. 18.

Families may take as long as they like to finish the application, but those who do so by the end of January will have the best chance, Stolt told The Catholic Post.

“If you’re one of the first people that got in there and they give you the notice, just get it done as quickly as you can,” she said. “They do need to award something by Feb. 1.”

As the result of a meeting with Empower Illinois officials on Nov. 15, principals, pastors and school teams are taking a proactive approach, according to Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Peoria.

“There are a lot more positive comments that I’ve been hearing from principals, that I’ve been hearing from parents and others that have been involved with Empower Illinois,” she said. “They seem to feel that the portal has been redesigned and that we’re going to have a very successful start to the application process.”

Hearing that their money is being spent well should be encouraging to donors, Weiss added, and may prompt others to take advantage of the tax credits that are available.

“Their giving is making a difference,” she said.

Families who need help with the application process should contact their schools first, Stolt advised.

Additional resources and information are available at empowerillinois.org.

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