Optometric Education Scholarship Program
CSFA Number: 691-00-1389
Agency Name
Illinois Student Assistance Commission (691)
Agency Identification
0009
Agency Contact
Scott Taylor
217-782-0503
scott.taylor@illinois.gov
Short Description
The Optometric Education Scholarship Program provides scholarship assistance to encourage eligible students to pursue a graduate degree in optometry.
Subject Area
Education
Program Function
Education
Enabling Legislation
110 ILCS 947/65.70 and 20(f)
Objectives and Goals
The program encourages eligible students to pursue a graduate degree in optometry.
Types of Assistance
Direct Payments for Specific Use
Uses and Restrictions
An Optometric Education Scholarship Program recipient must practice in Illinois as a licensed optometrist for a period of not less than one year for each year of scholarship assistance received. The recipient must also begin practicing optometry in Illinois within one year following completion of the academic program for which he or she was awarded the scholarship and practice on a continuous basis until the obligation is fully completed. If the requirement to practice optometry in Illinois is not fulfilled, the scholarship converts to a loan and the recipient must repay the entire amount of the scholarship prorated to the fraction of the obligation not completed, plus interest at a rate of 5 percent.
Eligibility Requirements
A qualified applicant shall be:
a) a United States citizen or eligible noncitizen;
b) a resident of Illinois; and
c) enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, on a full-time basis in a public or private college of optometry located in Illinois that awards a doctorate degree in optometry and is approved by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (see 68 Ill. Adm. Code 1320).
Eligible Applicants
Individuals;
Application and Award Processing
a) All applicants must complete and file the form that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) designates as an application for federal student financial aid for the purpose of determining the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is used as a selection criterion for this award. (See Section 483 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 USCA 1070a).)
b) A completed ISAC application for the Optometric Education Scholarship Program must be postmarked on or before March 1 immediately preceding the academic year for which the scholarship is being requested in order to receive priority consideration for an award.
c) A total of ten scholarships shall be awarded each year; two each for eligible applicants in their first year, second year, third year, and fourth year; the remaining two shall be awarded to students in any academic level.
d) If in any year the number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of scholarships to be awarded, priority will be given to students demonstrating exceptional merit and who are in financial need based on a combination of the following criteria:
1) cumulative grade point averages, prioritized from the highest to the lowest. All grade point averages will be converted to a four-point scale; and
2) EFC, from the lowest to the highest; and
3) recipients of assistance under the Optometric Education Scholarship Program during the previous academic year shall receive first priority consideration provided the student:
A) maintains his or her status as a qualified applicant;
B) maintains satisfactory academic progress as determined by the institution; and
C) submits an application on a timely basis.
e) If all other criteria are equal, priority consideration will be given to the qualified applicant who submitted his or her completed application on the earliest date.
f) A recipient may receive the equivalent of 8 semesters/12 quarters of scholarship assistance under this Part.
g) Scholarship funds are applicable toward two semesters/three quarters of full-time study within an academic year.
h) The total number of scholarships awarded in a given fiscal year is contingent upon available funding.
i) To the extent necessary to administer this program within the limits of the State appropriation, the Commission may adjust the priority consideration factors established by this Section.
j) ISAC shall publish guidelines for the awarding of Optometric Education Scholarships.
k) Each qualified applicant who is selected to receive an Optometric Education Scholarship shall be notified.
l) Prior to receiving scholarship assistance for any academic year, the qualified applicant must sign a Practice Agreement/Promissory Note that is submitted to ISAC. The Practice Agreement/Promissory Note shall include the following stipulations:
1) the recipient pledges to practice in Illinois as a licensed optometrist under the Illinois Optometric Practice Act of 1987 for a period of not less than one year for each year of scholarship assistance awarded under this Part;
2) the recipient shall begin practicing optometry in Illinois within one year following completion of the academic program for which the recipient was awarded a scholarship, and shall practice on a continuous basis for the required period of time;
3) if the recipient does not fulfill the requirement to practice optometry in Illinois, the scholarship converts to a loan and the recipient must repay the entire amount of the scholarships prorated according to the fraction of the obligation not completed, plus interest at a rate of 5% and, if applicable, reasonable collection fees;
4) the recipient agrees to provide ISAC with evidence of compliance with program requirements;
5) the recipient promises to use the proceeds of the scholarship for educational expenses.
m) A recipient of a scholarship awarded under this Part shall not be in violation of the agreement entered into pursuant to Section l) during periods in which the recipient:
1) serves, for not more than three years, as a member of the United States Armed Forces;
2) is enrolled full-time in a residency program at an approved institution for one continuous period of time, not to exceed one year, following graduation;
3) is temporarily totally disabled for not more than three years, as established by the sworn affidavit of a qualified physician;
4) cannot fulfill the practice obligation due to his or her death, verified by a certified copy of a death certificate; or
5) cannot fulfill the practice obligation due to his or her disability or incompetency, as established by sworn affidavit of a qualified physician.
n) No claim for repayment may be filed against the estate of a decedent or incompetent.
o) If a recipient is required to repay any portion of the scholarship, the repayment period shall be completed within ten years after the scholarship converts to a loan. This ten-year period may be extended if the recipient:
1) serves, for not more than three years, as a member of the United States Armed Forces;
2) is enrolled full-time in a residency program at an approved institution for one continuous period of time, not to exceed one year, following graduation; or
3) is temporarily disabled, for not more than three years, as established by the sworn affidavit of a licensed physician.
p) A recipient shall enter repayment status on the earliest of the following dates:
1) the first day of the first calendar month after the recipient has ceased to pursue a course of study leading to certification as an optometrist;
2) the date the recipient informs ISAC that she or he does not plan to fulfill the practice obligation; or
3) the day after the latest date upon which the recipient must have begun practicing as an optometrist after completing the education for which the scholarship was awarded.
q) A recipient shall not be required to repay the amount of the scholarships received if she or he becomes permanently totally disabled, as established by the sworn affidavit of a licensed physician (see, e.g., 34 CFR 653.42(k)(1)), or if his or her representative provides ISAC with a certified death certificate.
Regulations, Guidelines, Literature
The Optometric Scholarship Program is exempt from the Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200) and the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (30 ILCS 708) because scholarships are paid on behalf of an individual beneficiary.
Funding By Fiscal Year
FY 2015 : $50,000
FY 2016 : $50,000
FY 2017 : $50,000
FY 2018 : $50,000
FY 2019 : $50,000
FY 2020 : $50,000
Federal Funding
None
Notice of Funding Opportunities
None
None