pexels tirachard kumtanom 733856CHICAGO – The 2021 Department of Children and Family Services Scholarship Program is now open, and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is encouraging youth in care to apply.

“I worked hard to expand this scholarship program, and the program can help dozens of youth after an extremely difficult year,” Hunter said. “This scholarship allows students to focus on their studies, rather than carry the burden of paying for their education.”

In 2014, Hunter sponsored legislation that expanded the DCFS Scholarship Program, which has awarded over 1,400 scholarships since the program began in 1971.

Every year, 53 academic scholarships are awarded to current and former youth in care for the upcoming school year. Scholarship recipients receive up to five consecutive years of tuition and academic fee waivers to be used at participating Illinois state colleges and universities, along with a monthly grant of $1,235 and a medical card.

The DCFS Scholarship Program is open to youth who have an open DCFS case, whose cases were closed through adoption or guardianship or who aged out of care at 18 or older. Youth who are at least 16 years old and not yet 21 on March 31 are encouraged to apply.

Scholarship recipients will be selected based on their scholastic record and aptitude, community and extracurricular activities, three letters of recommendation from non-relatives and a written statement illustrating their purpose for higher education. Due to limited availability of ACT and SAT testing sites because of the pandemic, ACT and SAT test scores will not be considered in this year’s selection process.

Applications are available on the DCFS website. Students or caregivers may call the DCFS Office of Education and Transition Services at 217-557-2689 with questions about the application process or for more information.

The deadline to apply is March 31 and scholarship awards will be announced May 1.