Scholarships at the Community Foundation

Since 1993 the DeKalb County Community Foundation has partnered with philanthropists to benefit organizations and communities throughout DeKalb County. Many of our donors who care about education create Scholarship Funds to help individuals with rising education costs. The Foundation offers over 90 scholarships to students across DeKalb County.

View a complete list of scholarships available at the Community Foundation >


Application Dates
Current Status
Universal Application
February 1 - April 1 Closed
Additional Scholarships
February 1 - April 1
OR April 1 - June 1

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Applying for a Scholarship

Staff, DeKalb County Community Foundation

Jolene Willis, Grants Director

Staff, DeKalb County Community Foundation

Sara Nickels, Grants & Scholarships Manager

Most scholarships offered through Funds at the Community Foundation are for students graduating from high schools in DeKalb County. High school students must apply for these using the Foundation's Universal Scholarship Application process. Applicants who are not high school students should not use the Universal Application. Scholarships that fall under the Universal Application process open on February 1, and have a deadline of 11:59 p.m. on April 1.

A small number of scholarship opportunities are not included in the Universal Application. Applicants must determine their eligibility and apply using an application specific to that award. Learn more about these opportunities on the additional scholarships webpage.

For questions on scholarships at the Community Foundation, please contact Grants & Scholarships Manager Sara Nickels at or 815-748-5383.

How to Apply Using the Universal Scholarship Application

The Universal Scholarship Application allows high school students to complete a single application to qualify and apply for many scholarship opportunities. Deadline to apply is April 1, 2024.

  • To begin, students must set up a Universal Application account.
  • Once the account is created, students start the application process.
  • Students are then asked a series of questions that determine their eligibility for specific awards. Based on their response to these common questions, the application will request supplemental information specific to individual awards.

Access the Universal Scholarship Application (Closed) >

Need Help Using the Universal Application?

Review the tutorial below for account creation and scholarship application assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the scholarship application deadline?
The scholarship deadline for the Universal Application is 11:59 p.m. on April 1 each year. Deadlines for post-high school scholarships is 11:59 p.m. on April 1 or June 1.

What information is needed for a scholarship application?
At a minimum, scholarship applicants are required to provide:

  • Personal identification information
  • Details about extracurricular activities and community involvement
  • Write a short essay
  • A letter of recommendation from a community member and/or teacher
  • Plans for post-secondary education at a college, university, or trade school

Applicants are encouraged, but not required, to share:

  • SAT and ACT scores
  • Class Rank
  • Information detailing their financial need
  • The student's SAI number received after submitting the FAFSA
  • Note: It is not required to submit personal financial information, though many scholarships reference financial need as a deciding factor for the selection committee

Specific scholarship opportunities will require further information, such as:

  • High school transcripts
  • Specific essay questions

What is the Student Aid Index (SAI) number and how do I get one?

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is an eligibility index number used by a college's or career school's financial aid office to determine how much federal student aid the student would receive if the student attended the school. This number results from the student's information in their FAFSA form.

Learn more about SAI >

How do I edit or view my application?

To view or edit your application, log in to your application profile. You cannot edit your application after it is submitted. There is no advantage to applying early. Ensure your application is current and unlikely to change before you submit it.

How do you select scholarship recipients?
A committee selects each scholarship opportunity and has specific selection criteria. Committee members vary depending on the scholarship criteria and donor request.

When and how will I know if I am selected to receive a scholarship?
High school scholarship recipients are notified at their high school senior award night. 

Other scholarship recipients are notified by phone or email. Please add DeKalb County Community Foundation to your Safe Senders List so you receive important updates. 

How much will I receive in scholarships?
Scholarship amounts vary depending on the scholarship applied for. Applicants are encouraged to apply for as many awards as they are eligible to increase the likelihood of receiving one or more awards.

What will a scholarship award cover?
Scholarships can be used for direct education expenses, including tuition, books, and/or other school-related fees.

If I receive a scholarship award, when and where will the dollars be sent?
If you receive an award, be sure to complete your scholarship acceptance form (online portal). Scholarship awards are paid directly to the academic institution by the end of August.

What happens if I move or change schools after I’ve been awarded a scholarship?
You must notify the Community Foundation if you transfer schools or decide to un-enroll or defer your education. If you transfer schools, the Community Foundation can transfer your award to your new institution. This applies only if the school and your study plan meet the original scholarship criteria. If you decide to defer your education, contact as soon as possible. It is sometimes allowable to defer your award for one year.

If I receive a scholarship, should I send a thank you note? Where do I send it?
Yes, donors enjoy reading thank you notes and want to know something about the person receiving their scholarship. If you receive a scholarship, you will be required to complete a scholarship acceptance form, which will ask you to share information about yourself with the donor; you will also be asked to share any words of gratitude to the donor(s). A copy of this information (along with additional details about you – school, major, etc.) will be shared with the donor. If you’d still like to send a thank you letter to the donor (which is encouraged!), please mail it to the DeKalb County Community Foundation - 475 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, IL 60178. The Foundation will forward it to the donor(s).

What if I have additional questions?
For additional questions about scholarships at the Community Foundation, please don’t hesitate to call us at 815-748-5383 or email For other questions, consider asking your high school counselor.

If giving the gift of education is an area of interest to you, consider donating to an existing Scholarship Fund or create one of your own. To discuss your charitable interests, please contact Executive Director Dan Templin at 815-748-5383 or

Donate to a Scholarship Fund >