Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship and Assistance

The Gateways Scholarship Program awards scholarships up to a maximum of 15 semester hours per year (or equivalent quarter hours) over a three-term period (or equivalent quarter terms). First time scholarship recipients will only be allowed to register for up to six semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours) during the first term of their scholarship.

An original signed Gateways Scholarship Supplement Application serves as a contract between the scholarship recipient and the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA). A contract period does not exceed one year.

Gateways Scholarship can be used toward:

  • An Associate Degree in ECE/CD.
  • A Bachelors Degree in ECE/CD.
  • Coursework to advance on the Great START Wage Supplement Scale.
  • Coursework towards a Gateways to Opportunity Credential.
  • A bachelors or masters degree related to program administration for ECE/CD.

The percentages paid by the Gateways Scholarship Program and the recipient for tuition and fees are determined through a sliding income scale, which is based upon the recipient’s ECE or school-age care position. The program will only pay for fees that are associated with the courses being taken.

% Gateways Scholarship Program Would Pay % Applicant Would Pay Hourly Wage Gross Yearly Wage
Working Full Time
90 10 Up to $12.50 Up to $26,020.00
80 20 $12.51–$15.00 $26,021.00–$31,220.00
70 30 $15.01–$18.00 $31,221.00–$37,459.00
60 40 $18.01–$21.00 $37,460.00–$43,699.00
50 50 $21.01–$24.00 $43,700.00–$49,920.00

A work commitment is required for recipients completing a contract, degree, or credential. The work commitment to early care and education or school-age care is dependent upon coursework completed and scholarship type. Work commitment is defined as follows:

  • 6 months for completion of a coursework contract.
  • 1 year for AA completion.
  • 1 year for BS or MS completion.
  • 1 year for certificate, approval, endorsement completion.

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

  • Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed full-day, full-year family/group child care home.
  • IDCFS licensed full-day, full-year child care center.
  • Licensed school-age program operating a minimum of nine months a year.
  • Illinois State Board of Education funded Preschool for All program.


*The Gateways Scholarship Program pays up to 100% of a maximum rate determined annually based on the highest tuition amount charged for undergraduate resident tuition rate at a state university or community college. Gateways Scholarship Program also pays a maximum rate determined annually based on the highest amount charged for tuition at a state university for master level coursework. (Tuition rates for both bachelor and master levels are based on current school year rate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.)



Gateways to Opportunity is funded by public and private support including the McCormick Foundation, the Grand Victoria Foundation,    

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