Parents ask for scholarship program to not be stopped


    Parents ask for scholarship program to not be stopped (WICS)

    A scholarship program benefiting your children is set to be phased out over the next three years.

    Parents said even though the scholarship money comes from donations and sends students to private schools, they do not want to see the government ending a benefit for their children.

    "It just was very meaningful," said Janine McDonald, whose child benefits from the program.

    It is a promising opportunity that some are not ready to see fade.

    "To see my son's dream of what he wanted for his education to become a reality," said McDonald.

    More than 50 percent of Illinois families qualify for an Empower Illinois scholarship called Invest in Kids.

    This first started under then-Governor Bruce Rauner for the 2018-2019 school year.

    "It is an opportunity to give their child a head start, a jump in a different direction," said McDonald.

    In 2018, out of the nearly 5,500 scholarships handed out last year, 47 of those students were right here in Sangamon County at nine different schools.

    In total, there was more than $140,000 for an education that some parents call vital.

    "It's more than education. It's community. That was one of the things he saw in the school too that there was a sense of community that he was hungry for," said McDonald.

    No, not every student that applies for the scholarship gets it.

    "Just a lot of people were upset that they did not get it," said McDonald.

    Yes, there is a 75 percent income tax credit for those who donate, which does take away tax revenue from the state.

    However, parents said at the end of the day it is an educational investment.

    "If they have allowed these people to have the choice to designate those taxes towards education, which we all pay taxes for, I think we have a right to be respectful," said McDonald.

    We reached out to Governor JB Pritzker's team who confirmed as of now the governor is not planning to renew it after its initial five-years.

    Governor Pritzker's team also shared with us that by capping the amount of eligible contributions at $50,000,000 for this year, that will be nearly $9,000,000 less than last year.

    Region four, which is where Sangamon County is in regard to scholarships had over 2,000 applicants, according to the Empower Illinois Year One Report.

    Despite the cap, current student’s scholarship funds will be protected so their studies are not disrupted.

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