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Oct 02, 2014 01:02 PM EDT

Chicago Mayor Announces Free Community College Tuition Plan

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled plans for free community college tuition for public high school students.

Emanuel and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Chancellor Cheryl Hyman announced the Chicago Star Scholarship, a program that will help ensure more Chicago public high school students are "able to pursue the dream of college without accumulating burdensome debt."

"The Chicago Star Scholarships will open more doors of opportunity for more students in the City of Chicago," Emanuel said. "Every student who is willing to work hard should have access to a quality education, regardless of whether they can afford it or not. This new scholarship program will remove a financial barrier to college and give many more students in Chicago a ticket to the middle class that a college education provides."

Through Chicago STAR Scholarship, City Colleges of Chicago will provide scholarships in the form of tuition, fee and book waivers to qualifying high school graduates, ensuring they can earn their associate degree at City Colleges of Chicago with no out of pocket costs.

Any Chicago public high school graduate who has a 3.0 grade point average or higher, places into college-level math and English, and enrolls in one of CCC's pathways will be eligible for the Chicago Star Scholarship. The pathway program helps students navigate the educational system and encourages them to focus on a clear career path and achieve their goals.

"We have worked hard to develop a Student GPS system and College to Careers that help students envision and follow a clear, relevant path through City Colleges to further college and careers and this is another step in our efforts to help students succeed," Hyman said.

Students will be required to first complete the FAFSA to apply for financial aid. After application of federal and state financial aid grants, CCC will provide waivers to cover tuition, fees, and books for up to three years.

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