Pay It Forward Scholarship image

Pay It Forward Scholarship

Scholarships for local students who have demonstrated the ability to overcome obstacles in their pursuit of post-secondary education.

Scholarship Deadline - February 1st This scholarship has a deadline of February 1st at 5pm. Deadline: February 1st 01 Learn How to Register & Apply


There is no essay required for this scholarship. 


Applicants must:

- Have a permanent address in CFNIL's service area (Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, or Winnebago County); and
- Have demonstrated "grit" and the ability to overcome obstacles. 


Since CFNIL’s first scholarship was awarded in 1994, we’ve awarded more than $3.4 million to thousands of northern Illinois students. Hundreds of volunteers have read thousands of applications, and every year come to the same conclusions: our students are doing amazing things, and there are far more deserving applicants than scholarships to give. There are always students who deserve an extra boost, who have overcome unbelievable obstacles to complete their education and just need a little more to get over the finish line. They’ve inspired us to create the Pay it Forward Scholarship.

Qualifying for this scholarship is simple: just fill out CFNIL’s application. Every student living within CFNIL’s service area who applies will be eligible, and our reviewers will be looking for students who demonstrate grit and the ability to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of their post-secondary education. 

The Pay It Forward Scholarship is CFNIL’s first crowdfunded scholarship, and we’re asking for your help. A generous donor who wants to inspire generosity in others will match every dollar donated to the scholarship fund by December 31, 2021, up to $30,000. If we reach that goal, we’ll be able to award an extra $2,400 to deserving students every year in perpetuity. 

Who should give to the Pay It Forward Scholarship?

- Past CFNIL Scholarship recipients looking for a way to support other students;
- Community members interested in supporting the education aspirations of local students but not interested in starting their own scholarship;
- Donors who are looking for a way to support students who have overcome significant life obstacles and with a high propensity to succeed in their educational aspirations;
- Current and past CFNIL Trustees and volunteer Advisors who are looking to maximize the potential of this campaign's matching gift!

Use the orange "Donate" button below to support the Pay It Forward Scholarship today! Thank you!

Light the Path for Scholars, Tuesday, December 21, 6 - 8 p.m.

Join us to Light the Path for Scholars

On the longest, darkest night of the year we invite you to join us at the Community Foundation for a candle-lit open house and celebration of students and scholarships! Join us for this free event and enjoy dark and light treats, the beauty of candlelight on a dark winter night, and learn more about CFNIL's first crowdfunded scholarship, the Pay It Forward Scholarship.

View Light the Path Event Details