Scholarship Resources

This is an in-depth walkthrough of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois Scholarship program, including the online application and overall scholarship cycle process. Watch for a comprehensive look at the online application portal, tips for completing a stellar application, and answers to frequently asked questions.

How to Register and Apply for CFNIL Scholarships

Unless otherwise noted on the individual scholarship page, CFNIL uses an online application system. CFNIL migrated to a new scholarship application system in 2019. If you have not applied via the new system, you will need to create a new account in the new system. Learn how to register for the new scholarship application portal, complete the CFNIL scholarship application, and navigate your Applicant Dashboard, in the videos below.

Link to watch video to learn how to register for the CFNIL Scholarship application portal   Link to watch video to learn how to complete the CFNIL Scholarship application   Link to watch video to learn how to navigate the CFNIL scholarship application portal applicant dashboard

Additional Tips for CFNIL Scholarship Applicants

Sign up for CFNIL Text Updates to get scholarship updates, deadlines, and tips!

Viewing this on a smartphone? Click the correct link below, a text message with a pre-populated message will open, then send the text!

Counselors click here!

Parents click here!

Students click here!

Or, follow the following instructions from your phone:

Counselors, text the word "COUNSEL" to 844-498-5447

Parents, text the word "PARENT" to 844-498-5447

Students, text the word "SCHOLAR" to 844-498-5447 

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois believes in the transformative power of education. That is why we work with donors to create endowed scholarship funds benefiting local students. Since 2000, CFNIL has awarded over $3,300,000 to local students pursuing post-secondary education.

View the names of past scholarship recipients by clicking the links below.

2023 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients

2022 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients

2021 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients 

2020 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients 

2019 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients 

2018 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients 

2017 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients 

2016 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients 

2015 CFNIL Scholarship Recipients 

CFNIL Scholarship Program FAQs

No! One application, one deadline. You will, however, need to submit an additional essay for each scholarship you indicate you’re applying for in the application.

Most scholarship funds offer varying award amounts, most of which range from $500 to $10,000 depending on the size of the particular fund, the number of qualified applicants, the renewability of the scholarship, and the directions given by the donor(s) of the funds. However, our application process is competitive and not all applicants will receive a scholarship award.

CFNIL has a variety of scholarships. Some are available based on academic achievement and financial need, but many are available based on what high school you attended, your future area of study, or extracurricular activities. We encourage you to dive into our list of scholarships to see what scholarships you are eligible for.

The intent is to award scholarships to students who are or will be attending college full-time.

CFNIL appoints volunteers working in committees to review the scholarship applications. All applications are reviewed anonymously. The committees make recommendations for scholarship awards based on the purpose and specific criteria of each scholarship as established by its donor(s).

No. The last point at which you can make changes to your application is when you are matched up with the scholarship(s) for which your previous answers indicated you are eligible.

You will be notified via letter or e-mail by May 1 regarding your application status.

Scholarship awards are paid directly to the academic institution by the end of July.

What are the basic eligibility criteria?

Each scholarship has specific eligibility criteria defined by the donor when the fund is established. However, most scholarships have the following criteria:

  1. Applicants must reside within Boone, Ogle, Stephenson or Winnebago County.
  2. Applicants must be seeking an undergraduate degree (AA, BA, BS, etc.) or certification. Graduate students are only eligible when specified by the donor.
  3. Any scholarships awarded are paid directly to the recipient’s chosen school. Schools must be:
    1. Accredited institutions
    2. Private non-profit or publicly supported institutions

Additional Scholarship Resources

There is a new, local one-stop source for all things scholarships in our region! Check out Scholarships Northern Illinois ( to access information about dozens of other scholarships specifically for students in northern Illinois, as well as a wealth of additional scholarships and financial aid resources. 

Scholarships Northern Illinois logo

Questions? Issues with your application? Contact Heather!

Heather Rapp, Program Associate and IYWT Liaison, headshot
Heather Rapp
Program Associate and IYWT Liaison
Phone: 779-210-8209
Email: Heather Rapp