Elgin Community College focused on removing barriers to education

A message from ECC College President, Dr. David Sam

I am reminded of a story that I read in the Boston Globe over the summer about Verda Tetteh, a promising Harvard-bound high school graduate in Massachusetts who turned down a $40,000 scholarship to Harvard, surprising the audience at her commencement ceremony with a specific request. She asked that those funds instead be awarded to students who would be going to a community college.

Verda came to the United States from Ghana as a child with her mother, who instilled a strong Christian faith and appreciation for the power of education. Her mother attended community college, eventually earning her bachelor's degree in her late 40s. Knowing she had enough support to pursue her dreams in medicine, Verda wanted other students to be afforded the same opportunities her mother found in attending community college, along with financial peace of mind. As a fellow Ghanaian and educator, I couldn't help being touched by Verda's story.

Community colleges provide affordable and exceptional opportunities to help students achieve their dreams. I'm proud of the Elgin Community College faculty, staff and administrators who work diligently to deliver on our mission to improve people's lives through learning. Verda's mother is a prime example of how community colleges can change lives, and even impact generations. My personal experiences as a community college president also validate the importance of access to quality education. I am fortunate to get to know students who have overcome personal challenges to finish a certificate or degree and secure a job with family-sustaining wages. I get to meet students who come to ECC from another nation, improve their English skills, and then move on to a four-year university on scholarships before starting a successful career. I have celebrated mothers and fathers who have put aside their dreams to raise a family and who are now returning to school to pursue their own passions.

The faculty, staff and administrators at ECC are committed to helping everyone who wishes to continue their education succeed, no matter where they may be in their journey. You might be aware that the college has taken several measures to help make coming to ECC even more affordable. Over the course of the past year, our Board of Trustees has diligently worked on behalf of our district taxpayers, providing more than $3.5 million in savings as a result of the flat 2020 tax levy and bond refunding. Additionally, the Board approved a tuition rate freeze for the fourth consecutive year, keeping the per credit hour rate of $132 in place. And, for our District 509 spring high school graduates who have completed one or more dual credit courses at ECC, this 2021-2022 academic year is free to them. All tuition, books, and fees will be covered, allowing these promising young students to continue their studies without financial burden.

We continue to offer generous funding options through scholarships, stimulus funds and federal and state grant aid to every student who may need assistance. Now is the time to reach out and learn more if you are thinking about taking classes at ECC. We have funding available to help you pay for college.

This fall, we are thrilled to safely welcome back more than 8,100 students to our campus, and we are excited to offer our students the flexibility they need with online, hybrid and face-to-face classes. It is not too late to start your educational journey at ECC this semester. We have additional 12 and eight-week sessions beginning Sept. 28 and Oct. 18.

I look forward to meeting as many of our students and their families on ECC's beautiful campus or virtually this semester.

If you would like more information about enrolling at ECC, contact the Office of Admissions at (847) 214-7385 or, or if you'd like to learn more about our generous financial aid options, call (847) 214-7360 or

• David Sam, PhD, JD, LLM, a native Ghanaian, has served as the eighth president of Elgin Community College since 2007.

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