Getting Ahead:

An Adult Student's Guide to Public Benefits in Illinois

By Wendy Pollack


About This Guide

College education or job training is an important investment in a financially secure future, but it can be difficult for many students to support themselves while they are in school. Students who lack adequate financial and other support may be unable to complete their educational programs, jeopardizing their future employment prospects.

This guide is intended to help college students and participants in job training determine whether they qualify for public benefits or services, and how to apply for assistance. Students who receive necessary support and assistance are more likely to finish school, start their careers, and establish financial security. This guide is not intended to give legal or tax advice.

Download a copy of the guide (pdf)

About The Author

Wendy Pollack is the director of the Women’s Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Ms. Pollack has worked extensively on public benefits and work supports, economic and workforce development, education, employment, family law, violence against women and girls, and the application of international human rights to domestic poverty law, on the local, state, and federal level.

Former Shriver Center staff member Kathleen Rubenstein and current and former AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers including Josephine Herman, and Amy Thompson also contributed to this manual.

About the Shriver Center

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. The Shriver Center achieves its mission through three interconnected programs: advocacy, communications, and training. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s equal justice advocates to advance justice and opportunity for their clients.


This guide was made possible with support from Chicago Foundation for Women, Grand Victoria Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, and The Libra Foundation.

Getting Ahead: An Adult Student’s Guide to Public Benefits in Illinois by Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Banner image photo credit: Oregon Department of Transportation