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City Colleges’ STAR Scholarship Program Celebrates First Graduating Class

5/11/2017 9:00 AM

Two years ago, the inaugural class of Chicago STAR Scholars embarked on a path toward earning a college degree or certificate at City Colleges of Chicago. Today, more than 175 students are expect to reach this goal, becoming City Colleges graduates this year and part of the inaugural graduating class of Star Scholars. 

At a special “Cording Ceremony” on Wednesday at Malcolm X College, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Colleges Chancellor Juan Salgado honored these students, who received blue cords designating them as Star Scholar graduates. Students will wear the cords as part of their commencement regalia at City Colleges 2017 graduation ceremony, scheduled for Saturday, May 13, 2017, at the UIC Pavilion.   

“The Chicago STAR Scholarship is a signal to students that hard work pays off, and this week, our Star Scholars will graduate with an associate degree but without college debt,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “These Star Scholar graduates – many of whom have plans to transfer to a four-year college or university – are proof of what can happen when financial barriers are removed from the pursuit of higher education. We are very proud of their success.”   

Students in the STAR Scholarship program demonstrate a high aptitude for completion success that far outpaces the national average. The percentage of City Colleges STAR Scholars from the first 2015 cohort graduating in three years is expected to be double the national average of 22.6 percent for first-time, full-time students at two-year public institutions nationwide who complete in three years (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, March 2017), and the percentage of Star Scholars graduating in two years has already nearly matched the national three-year rate.   

Of those Star Scholars projected to graduate this year, more than 70 percent are in the first-generation of their family to attend college.   

To ensure more students can access a viable pathway to college regardless of financial means, Mayor Rahm Emanuel created the STAR Scholarship in 2014, rewarding hard-working CPS students with an opportunity to pursue a degree or certificate at City Colleges at no cost. The scholarship program currently serves 2,167 students. 

Since that time, the program has grown to include a partnership between 15 Chicagoland colleges and universities to provide transfer scholarships for eligible STAR students to continue progress toward college and career goals under the Chicago STAR Partnership. Each of these partners have committed to creating an opportunity that will allow STAR Scholars to continue their college education following a successful completion at CCC. These packages range in monetary value between $2,500 and nearly $50,000 each year and include advising and transition supports.   

“While the STAR Scholarship provides valuable opportunities for students to start their journey in higher education by earning a degree and/or certificate, City Colleges is working to ensure this is just one of many steps they will take toward reaching their academic goals,” said Juan Salgado, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago. “We are grateful to our STAR Partners for helping CCC students continue their journey toward a four-year degree by offering scholarships, advising services and other key supports along the way.”   

As of May 1, 2017, $655,000 in reported scholarship funds have been offered to STAR Scholars from STAR Partners – an amount expected to increase as colleges process applications and students finalize decisions.    

As of May 1, 2017, 121 students have been accepted to a STAR Partner institution; these institutions include: DePaul University, Dominican University, Governors State University, Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Loyola University, National Lewis University, North Park University, Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).   

“For me and many other students, the Chicago STAR Scholarship has provided a viable pathway to a college degree and subsequently, better job opportunities with higher income potential,” said Arturo Urquiza, a 2017 STAR Scholar graduate from Wright College who will be studying computer engineering in the fall at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), a STAR Scholarship program partner. “Rather than struggling to pay for college – or not attending at all – I will have earned my associate degree at no cost, with books included. My parents can rest easier knowing that financial difficulties won’t disrupt my studies or educational goals.”   

The 15 STAR Transfer 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, Robert Morris University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Roosevelt University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.    

To become a STAR Scholar, CPS students must meet specific criteria to be selected for the STAR Scholarship at City Colleges of Chicago. These students must graduate with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, they must demonstrate “completion ready” ability with an ACT math and English score of 17, and they must enroll in one of CCC’s structured, relevant pathways. Students meeting these criteria will be offered waivers for all tuition and books for up to three years at City Colleges of Chicago.    

For more information about the Chicago STAR Scholarship at City Colleges of Chicago, visit:

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