ECACE Scholarship

Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship for the BA Human Development & Learning Program

Apply by March 1, 2022

If you currently work or previously worked in early childhood education and you're seeking to finish your bachelor's degree in early childhood education at a top public research university, you may be eligible for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program at UIC.

The scholarship will cover the total cost of attendance for an academic year (including summer) after other financial aid received.

The scholarship program was created to address the shortage of qualified early childhood educators in Illinois with an aim toward building a strong, well-prepared workforce. After graduation, recipients of the scholarship are expected to continue or return to teaching or direct services in the early childhood care and education field in Illinois.


To be eligible for this scholarship here at UIC, you must:

  • be a U.S. citizen, or a U.S. permanent resident (holder of a “green card”)
  • be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in UIC’s BA Human Development & Learning (HDL) program
  • be currently working or have worked in the Early Childhood field. This includes family child care and center-based care settings that serve children from birth to age 5, in roles such as teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care providers and assistants. Applicants must provide documentation confirming their membership in the Gateways to Opportunity® Registry.
  • be at the junior level standing or above as a transfer student, and/or hold a relevant associate’s degree, such as Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Arts, or Associate of Science degree focused in early childhood education.
  • submit the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarship Program application
  • submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on or before by March 1, 2022
  • maintain satisfactory academic progress as established by the UIC College of Education
  • be certified as meeting eligibility requirements by the UIC College of Education
  • not be in default on any federal student loan, nor owe a refund on any State or federal grant. If you are in default, you may re-establish your eligibility.

How to apply for the ECACE Scholarship

Due no later than March 1, 2022, but early applicants will have priority.

Access the ECACE Scholarship application on the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) Student Portal website. ISAC will send immediate confirmation to your email address that your application has been received once you have completed it.

As part of the application, there are several external components you must prepare:

Complete the FAFSA

All applicants are required to complete the FAFSA for the academic year that you are applying for the scholarship. You do not need to demonstrate financial need to receive the award but the FAFSA will be used to prioritize awarding. A FAFSA must be submitted for each academic year in which benefits are to be used.

If you haven’t filed an online FAFSA before, you will first need to create an FSA ID at to login and use as your electronic signature. Once you access the online FAFSA, you will be asked to choose the school year for which you will be completing the FAFSA. This will need to be the same year as the ECACE application you are submitting. For example, if you are filling out an ECACE application for the 2021-22 school year, you must also complete the 2021-22 FAFSA. You can begin working on your FAFSA before the application opens.

Prove your work in an early childhood or child care position by registering with the Illinois Gateways Registry

Applicants must provide proof of having worked in the early childhood industry (in either a licensed or license-exempt facility), including family child care and center-based care settings, Preschool for All school-based settings, and Head Start, that serves children from birth to age 5 and includes teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care providers and assistants. This is done through membership in the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity® Registry.

If you’re not already a member, visit the Gateways to Opportunity Registry Membership page to complete your Gateways Registry application to prove you are in the early childhood workforce.

Once you have registered, you will have direct access to the Eligibility Verification Form. You will need this form for the ECACE scholarship application. It is recommended to obtain and print your Eligibility Verification Form before you fill out the ECACE application form.

Apply to the BA Human Development & Learning (HDL) Program

Only students who are already accepted to the HDL program will be eligible for this scholarship at UIC. Start your application on the UIC Admissions website.

How will applications be processed and how will decisions be made?

  • Applications will be processed in date-received (first come, first serve) order, so applying early is to your advantage.
  • ISAC prioritizes scholarship winners based on financial need, using information provided from applicant’s FAFSA form.
  • This scholarship is renewable each year. Applicants who received an ECACE Scholarship in the previous academic year and then apply to renew their scholarship for a second year will receive priority consideration.

Why choose the Human Development and Learning program at UIC?

This is a multi-disciplinary, transfer-friendly, and flexible bachelor’s program that allows students to earn Illinois Gateways credentials in Early Childhood Education. Courses are taught by professors in the the UIC Department of Educational Psychology. Students can also add a minor in a related field like Social Justice, Urban Studies, Disability and Human Development, Public Health, and more.

For immediate questions about the HDL program, contact the program coordinator Dr. Kathleen Sheridan.