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Chicago Difference Scholars

Illinois Tech is proud to launch The Chicago Difference—a community transformation and scholarship initiative designed to provide wraparound support for talented young people from underrepresented backgrounds across Chicago. The Chicago Difference has been co-created with the Chicago community and is designed to build the economic engine of our tech workforce that will fast forward our city as a global leader of diversity in technology.

Illinois Tech pledges to cover 100 percent of Chicago Difference scholarship recipients’ tuition, mandatory fees, room, and board for four years of full-time undergraduate study at the bachelor's degree level—five years for architecture students—after subtracting the student aid index (negative SAIs will be calculated as 0), federal and state grants and any existing Illinois Tech institutional scholarships. Students who receive the Chicago Difference scholarship will be notified by email and receive additional information in their financial aid offer regarding the scholarship.

Please note that the Chicago Difference scholarship is contingent upon the verification of Pell eligibility as determined by the Department of Education on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Next Steps for Chicago Difference and Hope Scholars

A key part of the Chicago Difference initiative is the wraparound support provided to you during your time at Illinois Tech. Hope Scholars also receive the same wraparound support offered to Chicago Difference scholars. We are invested in your success and want to make your college experience as seamless as possible. In order to do this, we ask that all Chicago Difference and Hope scholars complete the following checklist requirements as part of the scholarship program.

  1. Accept your scholarship and confirm your enrollment by May 1 by completing these two steps:
    1. Submit your enrollment deposit or request a deposit waiver from your Illinois Tech admission counselor
    2. Submit your Chicago Difference agreement form
  2. Schedule a virtual appointment with financial aid.


  3. Fulfill summer math course requirements (see Summer Math Course Requirement section below)
    1. Complete ALEKS Math Placement Exam (by June 1)
    2. If required, enroll and complete summer session of MATH 147/148 (June 24–August 2)
  4. Attend Chicago Difference Summer Orientation and SOAR 
  5. Attend Welcome Week and Chicago Difference events 

Receipt of The Chicago Difference scholarship is contingent upon the verification of information submitted in your FAFSA. This process will be completed within one to two weeks. Once we complete the aid verification process, you will receive your completed financial aid offer, which will include The Chicago Difference scholarship and your total cost of attendance.

If you have any questions about your scholarship or financial aid offer, please make an appointment with our Office of Financial Aid.


Part of the wraparound services and support offered to Chicago Difference scholars includes additional college math preparation to ensure  our scholars will excel in the classroom.
Students who are enrolled in an engineering, computing, or science major and have not completed calculus will be required to take a six-week college algebra (MATH 147) or college pre-calculus (MATH 148) summer course from June 26–August 5 to help prepare them for the math requirements in their major. 
You may be exempt from this requirement if you meet one of the requirements below:

  • You have completed high school or college-level calculus
  • You pass the ALEKS Math Placement exam with a score of 80 or above
  • You are enrolled in one of the following majors: architecture, behavioral health and wellness, business administration, communication, digital humanities, game design and experiential media, humanities, marketing analytics, industrial technology and management, information technology and management, psychological science, or social and economic development policy

To maintain scholarship eligibility once you enroll at Illinois Tech, you must:

  • Remain in good academic standing each semester (good academic standing is defined as an overall 2.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale and 1.8 term GPA)
  • Maintain full-time status by enrolling in at least 12 credit hours of course work each fall and spring semester (Students are responsible for ensuring that there are no holds prohibiting term from registering for courses. The most common holds are related to billing and accounting, student health requirements, or not participating in mandatory Title IX training)
  • Abide by the Student Code of Conduct 
  • Meet with student success coach on a biweekly basis
  • Meet with financial aid adviser once per semester
  • Attend at least three tutoring sessions for challenging coursework
  • Attend at least three Chicago Difference initiative engagement events per semester
  • Agree to participate in the peer mentorship program Students who do not follow the above requirements will be at risk for losing their scholarship.

Students who do not follow the above requirements will be at risk for losing their scholarship.

Chicago Difference SOAR: New Student Orientation

SOAR is mandatory event for Chicago Difference students. During this event you will have an opportunity to meet classmates on campus and become familiar with:

  • Academic requirements and expectations 
  • Resources that will assist you in succeeding academically and socially at Illinois Tech 
  • How to navigate the technology services that you will use throughout your experience at Illinois Tech 
  • Meet with faculty, staff, and student leaders on campus

SOAR for Chicago Difference Students will take place from Tuesday, June 11 to Friday, June 14, 2024.
Of these June 11 and 12 are reserved for events specific to Chicago Difference Students only. 

Mentorship and Student Success Partners