A pilot program being launched at the College of Lake County in September aims to ensure eligible high school grads can attend the school and graduate regardless of financial limitations.
The Promise Program will fill the gap between what students receive in state or federal grants and the actual cost of tuition at the two-year school.
College officials estimate the gap at $700 per student, with funds to come from the CLC Foundation. About 200 incoming freshman are expected to qualify.
"We are helping students with financial need achieve their college dreams," said Eric Tammes, director of academic success at CLC.
The program will offer an "exceptional learning experience" for new students coming directly from high school, he said.
A main element is to balance financial aid with intensive support services to keep the student on track. Participants in the program are capped at 60 credit hours, and must commit to graduate on time and participate in various activities involving leadership or career planning and development.
The inspiration, according to school officials, stemmed from efforts throughout the country to create free community college tuition, with the impetus from the CLC High School Alliance, a collaboration with 11 local school districts. The Promise Program was proposed by CLC President Jerry Weber as one way to help low-income students, many of whom are at risk because of a fragile economic situation.
Last fall, the CLC board provided the CLC Foundation with $550,000 as the estimated cost of the program for three years.
To qualify, students must complete a financial aid application; have an expected family contribution less than $3,000; have a high school GPA of 2.3 or higher; meet certain math and reading/writing requirements; and reside within the college's boundaries.
CLS spokeswoman Anne O'Connell said there has been interest from several hundred potential students, but the school is waiting for a preferred application deadline of Feb. 28 to see how many qualify and make a commitment for fall.
Other programs also are available to assist high school students coming to CLC, such as Jump Start, a summer bridge program; the One Million Degrees program focused on science and health professions; NSF scholarship for science and technology students; and TRIO Student Support Service program.
Also, the CLC Foundation offers more than $500,000 in direct scholarships to students in various conditions set by donors as well as general scholarships to students with financial need, O'Connell added.
For more information, call (847) 543-2090 or www.clcillinois.edu/promise.