Application open for Winter/Main CFNIL Scholarship Cycle

Application open for Winter/Main CFNIL Scholarship Cycle

Today, December 1, is opening day for the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) Winter/Main scholarship application! CFNIL is the region's largest private scholarship provider, with over 125 unique scholarships totaling over $500,000 to be awarded this year. There are three application cycles (Fall, Winter/Main, and Spring), each with its own application and timeline. Each cycle's application is accessed via CFNIL's online application portal.

The Winter/Main cycle, open today, accepts applications from December 1 – February 1. This is the primary cycle and includes over 120 scholarships. All applications must be submitted through CFNIL’s online application portal. Students answer questions about their academics, background, and extracurricular activities. From these answers, applicants will be automatically matched to all scholarships for which they are eligible. Details about every scholarship and the application process may be found at 

Each of CFNIL’s scholarships was established by individuals or organizations that recognize the importance of helping students achieve their educational goals, now and in perpetuity. The donors selected the criteria for each scholarship, based on their interests and the community’s need. 

CFNIL scholarships are for students in Boone, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago Counties, and each scholarship has unique criteria. There are scholarships for graduating high school seniors, non-traditional students, students with financial need, student athletes, students of color, and students pursuing careers in teaching, STEM, business, fire science, and healthcare. Some scholarships are renewable for up to four years. The diversity of scholarship offerings reflects the diversity of CFNIL’s donors and the communities of northern Illinois.

“Administering a scholarship program is a privilege on many levels: helping students across our region achieve their educational aspirations, honoring the generosity of generations of donors, and seeing first-hand the dedication and care of over 150 community volunteers as they review applications,” said CFNIL President Dan Ross. “Investment in the students of northern Illinois is truly an investment in our future, and year after year, the exceptional efforts of these students reassure us that our future is in very good hands.”

Applications are read and scored by committees of volunteers who use a “blind” review process and make award recommendations to CFNIL’s Board of Trustees. Scholarship recipients are announced in late April. Awards are sent directly to the school the recipient will be attending. Scholarship seekers should visit to learn more and apply. 

This video highlights the 2023 CFNIL Scholarship Award Night, an event that brings donors, recipients, and their families together to celebrate the incredible scholarship and generosity of the communities of Northern Illinois. This year 185 students from 28 high schools were awarded 215 scholarships totaling just shy of $430,000. Celebrate the exceptional accomplishments of this year's recipients and the generosity of community members who established these scholarships. Hear testimonials from recipients, encouraging words from special guests, and cheer on the scholars in your family or from your school!
View the digital 2023 CFNIL Scholarship report, learn more about this year's recipients, and find out more about CFNIL's scholarship program at