Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Chancellor Cheryl Hyman today welcomed the newest group of qualified applicants to the Chicago Star Scholarship during a rally at the new Malcolm X College and School of Health Sciences. This fall, the Star Scholarship will provide an opportunity for the second cohort of qualified Chicago Public Schools (CPS) graduates to begin college at CCC free of charge. In its first year, the Chicago Star Scholarship helped more than 1,000 CPS graduates enroll in college at no cost.
“The Star Scholarship is about opening more doors of opportunity through a college education to Chicago’s students who have earned it through their hard work. But while I am proud of this progress, I know we can do even better by helping more students take advantage of this opportunity,” said Mayor Emanuel. "By removing the financial barrier to a college degree, we provided 1,000 students with access to the college education that they deserve. By encouraging more of our students to apply, we can give them the tools they need to have strong career prospects and successful futures.”
Launched by Mayor Emanuel and Chancellor Hyman in 2014, the Star Scholarship offers eligible CPS high school seniors the opportunity to pursue a degree or certificate at City Colleges at no cost, as well as to access transfer scholarships with 15 four-year colleges and universities that are part of the Chicago Star Partnership. The first cohort of Star Scholars has achieved a 94 percent retention rate, suggesting that students enrolled in this program are highly likely to persist in their coursework toward a degree.
The rally introduced incoming Star Scholars and their families to CCC leadership, academic support services and programs from each of the seven college campuses. Qualifying Star Scholars come from across the city—representing more than 55 zip codes and more than 125 high schools. Any CPS high school graduate who has an ACT score of 17 or higher in English and math, a 3.0 GPA, and who enrolls in one of CCC’s pathways, is eligible for the Star Scholarship for up to three years after CPS graduation.
“Last year, we committed to getting every student who is willing to work hard – regardless of their financial standing – access to a quality college education,” said Chancellor Cheryl Hyman. “I am proud to say the program was such a success in its first year, and I hope to see these numbers continue to grow until every student in Chicago who wants a college education can get a college education.”
To support students’ continued academic success after completion at CCC, as part of the Chicago Star Partnership program, 15 four-year colleges and universities have committed to offering scholarships and transfer assistance for Chicago Star Scholars. These packages range in monetary value between $2,500 and nearly $50,000 each year.
The Star Partners are: Columbia College, DePaul University, Dominican University, Governors State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University, National Louis University, North Park University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northwestern University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Robert Morris University, Roosevelt University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Chicago Star Partnership.
To qualify for transfer scholarships, Star Scholars must graduate with a 3.0 GPA, and while some of these awards require additional academic merits, all are “last dollar” scholarships that may be applied in addition to other financial aid awards earned. Furthermore, each of the partners has committed to providing Star students transferring in with advising and transition supports.
Azalia Martinez is a 2015 Star Scholar who spoke at Wednesday’s rally. Azalia graduated from Jones College Prep in 2015 and is double majoring in public health and social work at Daley College. Azalia has a 4.0 GPA and is considering transferring to Dominican University upon completing her studies at Daley. She would like to pursue a Ph.D. and conduct research on the effects of the environment in the development of children.
“I’m grateful for the partnerships that the scholarship has in that it helps grant students more scholarship opportunities that will facilitate the transition from a community college to a four-year university,” says Azalia.
Students who complete the first two years at one of the seven City Colleges and then transfer to a four-year institution can save up to $40,000 on the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Through the College to Careers program, City Colleges’ faculty and staff work with employers and four-year universities to ensure its curriculum prepares students to hit the ground running in the region’s fastest-growing fields.
The Star program is one of many transformation efforts of City Colleges of Chicago’s Reinvention, which has aimed to ensure that all degrees and certificates are made relevant to the demands of the workplace and four-year institutions. Furthermore, since its launch in 2010, Reinvention has equipped all of the City Colleges to deliver enhanced academic supports for students to ensure that they have the tools and support they need to be successful in their pathway of choice. Since City Colleges launched its Reinvention to improve student outcomes, City Colleges has more than doubled both its graduation rate and number of degrees awarded annually.
Registration for City Colleges’ 16-week fall semester classes ends August 22nd. More details are available at www.ccc.edu or by calling 773.COLLEGE.