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Northwestern Establishes Chicago Star Scholars Program

University to offer $50,000 scholarships to City Colleges of Chicago transfer students

CHICAGO, Ill. --- Northwestern University will offer annual scholarships of up to $50,000 to City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) students who are admitted as undergraduate students and transfer to Northwestern, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro announced today.

Under the new CCC Star Scholars Initiative, Northwestern will provide financial assistance for two years for students who have completed their studies at City Colleges of Chicago and come to Northwestern. Each student will be eligible to receive a Star Scholar Award in an amount of up to $50,000 to be funded by Northwestern.

“I commend Northwestern for joining in the collective of Chicago colleges and universities who have stepped up to create a clear path for our students from high school to community college and on to a four-year university,” Mayor Emanuel said. “These institutions recognize the potential of our hardworking students, so I want to thank them for joining our effort to help break down the financial barriers to a college education and provide more ladders of opportunity to a great career and a stronger future." 

The partnership with City Colleges of Chicago represents the most recent initiative in Northwestern’s continuing efforts to increase access to the University for students from Chicago, President Schapiro said.

“Northwestern University has always sought to attract the best students, both nationally and here in Chicago, and provide them with the financial support needed to obtain a Northwestern education,” President Schapiro said. “Through this partnership and others, we hope to make it possible for more students from low- and middle-income families and who are first-generation college students to attend Northwestern.”

By establishing the CCC Star Scholars Initiative, Northwestern hopes to attract outstanding City Colleges graduates who otherwise might not consider the University, President Schapiro said. 

Similar efforts by Northwestern over the past few years to attract Chicago Public Schools (CPS) graduates have been extremely successful. More than 100 CPS graduates are expected to enroll as freshmen at Northwestern next fall, an increase from fewer than 60 in 2010. The University’s Good Neighbor, Great University program, which provides need-based financial aid for students from Chicago and Evanston schools, this year has 328 undergraduates receiving $2.9 million in scholarships. 

Northwestern also created a special program to aid CPS students in preparing for college. As announced by Mayor Emanuel and President Schapiro in 2013, the Northwestern Academy helps CPS students prepare for and gain admittance to selective colleges and universities. The Northwestern Academy helps CPS high school students who are academically talented and enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program with supplemental educational opportunities and support services at no cost to the students in order to challenge them in high school and prepare them for higher education at selective colleges and universities. 

Students in the inaugural class of the innovative college prep program will tour top-tier universities over spring break, a significant milestone in their journey to higher education. As part of the program’s first trip to research colleges, the high school juniors – some joined by their parents -- will depart from Chicago April 17; one group will head to schools in Pennsylvania, while the other will tour top Midwestern schools. A third group will explore college campuses this summer. 

The students are all first-generation college-bound, come from a low-income family or are part of a group traditionally underrepresented in higher education. These are the highly motivated kids who qualified for, but aren’t enrolled in, selective enrollment high schools. The partnership with CPS involves year-round tutoring, leadership training, confidence building, counseling, family workshops and field trips to cultural institutions such as the Steppenwolf Theatre and The Adler Planetarium. 

Northwestern also recently announced that it will significantly increase financial aid for its students, eliminate loans for incoming undergraduate students and provide University-funded scholarships to undocumented students who are graduates of U.S. high schools. Key initiatives include:

  • All-grant financial aid packages. Beginning next fall, all entering first-year students who qualify for Northwestern grant assistance will be awarded aid packages without any loans. Their aid offer will include only grants, scholarships, summer earnings expectations and a work-study job opportunity. The all-grant aid package would enable students to graduate without incurring debt for their main educational expenses. 
  • Increased financial aid for undocumented students who are graduates of U.S. high schools. Beginning with next fall’s entering class, Northwestern will provide significantly increased financial assistance to academically qualified undocumented students who attended and graduated from a U.S. high school. Even though they have graduated from U.S. high schools, undocumented students are not eligible for federal grants and loans or State of Illinois grants. Northwestern will now provide the same University-funded scholarship assistance to qualified undocumented students that it does to U.S. citizens, using private funds to provide financial aid to support their studies. 

“An increasing number of outstanding high school students are those who were brought to the U.S. as small children after being born in another country,” President Schapiro said. “Despite Congressional efforts to make college accessible and affordable to these students through the DREAM Act, this bill has not yet been enacted. Therefore, as part of its efforts to reach out to underserved communities, Northwestern will provide increased funds to enable these students to come here.” 

  • Replacement of lost MAP funding. The Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP), which provides tuition grants for low- and middle-income students, is not currently funded due to the lack of a state budget. Northwestern has assured all of its full-time undergraduate students that the University will replace the lost MAP funding with University funds this year. Approximately 500 Northwestern undergraduates receive a total of about $2.4 million in MAP grants.

“We continue to hope that the governor and the legislature can reach an agreement on a FY2016 budget and restore MAP funding, which supports Illinois students,” President Schapiro said. “In order to enable our students to continue without incurring additional costs, Northwestern will stretch its institutional resources to make up for the lost state funds.”