CPS grads may attend City Colleges for free with Chicago Star scholarship

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Free college tuition at any city college is being offered to Chicago Public School graduates as part of a new program for students who have at least a 3.0 grade point average.

But who's paying for the program?

Many students at Harold Washington College and throughout the City Colleges of Chicago system know more than their knowledge can be tested, as finances can also be put to the test in order to attend college.

"As a student you're stressing about paying for it, you're stressing about getting good grades," said Elizabeth Crisostomo. "At the time I had a full-time job so it was either I do my homework or get some sleep."

These young ladies went to CPS school and are now college students. And it has been no easy feat, as they have had to pay for college themselves.

"My second year I know it will be up to me to make up the money so I'm working a part-time job now which will help pay for my second year," said Jaqueline Romo.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the Chicago Star Scholarship Wednesday.

"If you study hard, do your homework, do well in high school, you have a post-high school education that's free," Emanuel said.

The colleges' chancellor says operating efficiencies have saved the system money that will go toward supporting the new scholarship recipients and the CPS grads would be able to apply for state and federal grants.

"We insure there is no additional cost for books, tuition fees, so that there's not additional barriers which some students could really run into," said Cheryl Hyman, City Colleges of Chicago chancellor.

These students would not be eligible for the new scholarship but they have younger siblings and friends who they hope this will help.

"I think it will motivate a lot of students and encourage them to keep working even harder to raise up their grades and work hard to go to college for free," said Karen Sierra.

"There is nothing more motivating than someone telling you, 'You worry about your grades, I'm gonna pay for this,'" Crisostomo said.

City Colleges of Chicago expects to have up 1,000 more students next fall thanks to this scholarship. Undocumented students can also apply for this scholarship. The initiative is part of a city-wide strategy to have a better trained workforce and draw more employers to the area.
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