Adult Scholarship Timeline

See below for step-by-step details on how to apply for 2025 scholarship awards.

The HICF online scholarship application portal for the Adult Return to Learn Scholarship for Spring semester 2025 will open Sept. 1, 2024.

Before the application

Step 1: Complete the FAFSA - We are aware of delays with FAFSA processing. Adult scholarship applicants can also submit their most recent income tax return to meet this requirement.

Visit to read about how to prepare for completing the FAFSA. After preparing, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Note: You will need the Student Aid Report (SAR) (approximately 7 to 8 pages) in a PDF form to upload to your scholarship application within the financial information section. The earlier you apply the more grant money you will possibly receive.

If you have applied or are working on a scholarship application, your FAFSA Submission Summary may not become available. However, you should complete the remaining parts of your scholarship applications and use your most recent income tax documents to meet this requirement.

Adult scholarship applicants can also submit their most recent income tax return to meet this requirement.

Instructions for uploading your FAFSA file on scholarship application - if your FAFSA processes - the student logs into their FAFSA, selects the correct year, then clicks on “View or Print your FAFSA Submission Summary.” The next screen gives the option to print it or view the FAFSA as a pdf. At this point, the student may save the pdf and upload it onto the online application. The FAFSA document is approximately 5 to 8 pages or more in length. The Student Aid Index is located at the top of the first page of the FAFSA.

The deadline for Spring 2025 scholarship applications will be Nov. 1, 2024. Please contact Kathy Carter at or 217-220-1363 if you have questions. Thank you.

Step 2: Start thinking about letters of recommendation

You will need two letters of recommendation to apply.

  • One from a current or past teacher/instructor/faculty member (high school, GED, college/university) or employer
  • One from a community member, apprenticeship instructor, clergy, mentor, etc.

Ask early to allow time for your references to complete the letters of recommendation. You will be asked to upload these letters in a PDF form to the application. Letters from relatives are not accepted.

Step 3: Learn of other scholarship opportunities

Visit your University/College's website, Foundation, or Student Services office to learn about available scholarships. Talk with your employer to see if they offer scholarships or tuition reimbursement programs.

Step 4: Residency Requirements

You will need one of the following pieces of information to show proof of Macon County residency for the past 12 months.

  • Housing receipts (from 12 months ago)
  • Utility bills (from 12 months ago)
  • Tax forms
  • Voter's registration card

Step 5: Collect your Academic Information

You will need the following information to complete the Academic Information section of the application:

  • High School, GED, or College transcript
  • Cumulative GPA (When awarded the scholarship, student must maintain a 3.0 GPA)
  • Name of college/university you plan to attend
  • Your major/field of study you plan to pursue
  • Estimated graduation/completion date

Step 6: Begin drafting essay response

The scholarship application requires an essay to be written.

One-Page Essay should answer the following. Please include a paragraph for each question:

  • What are your educational goals and how do you hope to achieve them while attending college?
  • What are your long-term or career goals/plans and what steps will you take to achieve them?
  • What personal characteristics or experiences qualify you to receive a scholarship?

During the application process

Step 1: Create an account on the scholarship application portal

Visit and click “Scholarship Application Portal”. On the log on page, click create new account and fill in your personal information to create your account.

Step 2: Complete the eligibility form

The eligibility form will determine if you qualify for a scholarship.

Step 3: Complete the personal and academic information sections of the application

Enter your personal information and academic information.

Step 4: Complete the financial information sections of the application

Upload your FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) into the application and enter your Expected Family Contribution (EFC Number) which is located at the top of your SAR.

Step 5: Enter essay response.

Upload your essay response into the application.

Step 6: Upload letters of recommendation

Upload your two letters of recommendation.

Step 7: Submitting your application.

After reviewing all items on your application for completion and accuracy, complete the electronic signature, enter the date, and submit.

Prior to the deadline, your submitted application will be reviewed and we will contact you if there are concerns. Also, if you have questions regarding your application, please contact Heart of Illinois Community Foundation at 217-429-3000.

Step 8: Application deadline

Nov. 1, 2024
You must submit your online application by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 1, 2024. No late applications will be accepted.

After the application deadline

Step 1: Scholarship committees and reviewers go to work

A volunteer committee will read and score the applications during the review process. The committee will submit their reviews of each application by mid-April.

Step 2: Scholarship Notifications

End of April
Email will be sent notifying scholarship recipients

Step 3: Follow-ups

Complete award acceptance and follow-up forms by the due date in the scholarship portal.

Step 4: Checks are mailed to colleges/universities


HICF will mail a check directly to your college/university provided all prerequisite steps are completed by the recipient.

If you have any questions, please contact the Heart of Illinois Community Foundation at 217.429.3000.