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Chicago and Tennessee Will Offer Free Community College Beginning This Fall

Free. College.

Students in Tennessee and Chicago won’t have to wait for President Obama’s College Promise proposal for free community college to pass. The Chicago Star Scholarships and the Tennessee Promise program, both of which offer a serious financial break for college students, will kick off this fall, giving qualified applicants a chance to progress without the economic stress.

Image by Flickr user velkr0 via Creative Commons

The Tennessee Promise, on which President Obama based his federal proposal, will require hopeful students to apply during an August to November window. According to Ms Magazine, if selected, students may then use the scholarship to attend one of the state’s “13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institutions offering an associate's degree program.”

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s similar program will also launch this fall and will allow public high school students with a GPA of 3.0 or above to attend a City Colleges of Chicago school for two years, for free. "Every student who is willing to work hard should have access to a quality education, regardless of whether they can afford it or not," he said.

President Obama’s College Promise would require the federal government to provide three quarters of the tuition for two years of community college in participating states, with the states picking up the final quarter of the tab. According to the White House, the program would serve up to 9 million students per year and save each student an average of $4,000, if picked up by every state. In order to make the cut, students would have to keep up a 2.5 GPA or higher and partake in “academically challenging programs” while enrolled in a two-year-long “career training program” or racking up credits they would then transfer to a four-year college at the end of their two years with Promise.

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