On Tuesday, May 21, City Colleges of Chicago joined Chicago Public Schools to celebrate hundreds of graduating seniors who have earned at least 15 college credits at no cost through our Early College program, saving time and money on their college journeys. The Early College Milestone Celebration took place at UIC Forum, where seniors received special cords to wear to their upcoming graduations.

“Days like today help illustrate why our partnership with CPS is so important.  Through early college programs, we provide students with life-changing opportunities to accelerate their path to earning a post-secondary credential,” said City Colleges Chancellor Juan Salgado. “We know that when we support our students, they thrive, and when they thrive, so do our communities and our city.”

By the Numbers:

  • 727 CPS students earned 15 or more credits at City Colleges.
  • This year’s Early College students saved a combined total of nearly $7.6 million in City Colleges tuition.
  • 151 students earned 30 or more credits at City Colleges.
  • 94 students earned associate degrees at City Colleges.

Read the full press release from CPS below.

Chicago Public Schools Celebrates Class of 2024 Historic Savings of More Than $8 Million in College Tuition

144 CPS students earn associate degree alongside High School Diploma

CHICAGO –  Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Pedro Martinez, City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Chancellor Juan Salgado, DeVry University President and CEO Elise Awwad, school administrators and families came together today to recognize more than 800 Class of 2024 scholars from 79 CPS high schools who are graduating with a high school diploma, plus 15 or more transferable college credits. Among the Class of 2024 seniors are 144 graduates who earned their associate degree, more than any previous class in CPS history.

“We’re thrilled to congratulate the Class of 2024 for excelling academically in high school while earning college credits and becoming the first class to accumulate a savings of more than $8 million in college tuition costs,” said CEO Martinez. “They have not only advanced academically, they have set themselves up for future success in college while alleviating some of the financial stress of pursuing higher education.”

Approximately 5,900 CPS Class of 2024 graduates will save an estimated $8 million in total college tuition costs through the District’s early college partnerships, primarily with the City Colleges of Chicago where students earned more than 49,000 credits, but also with with DeVry University, Chicago State University, Illinois Tech, Loyola University, Northeastern Illinois University, National Louis University, University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois Chicago.

The graduates at today’s ceremony received a ceremonial blue cord for earning 15 or more college credits during their junior and senior years, the equivalent of one semester in college. Another 216 students earned a gold cord for achieving 30 credits or more. The 144 graduating seniors who earned an associate degree in addition to their high school diploma received a plaque commemorating their achievement, 94 of them wore the platinum cords from their CCC college graduation ceremony earlier this month. The cords can also be worn during the students’ high school graduation ceremonies that begin this week and continue through early June.

Today’s early college milestone ceremony reflects collaboration that began more than a decade ago and continues today as CPS and CCC work together to make higher education more accessible by offering college courses to high school juniors and seniors free of charge.  Through the Chicago Roadmap, a comprehensive partnership agreement between CPS and CCC, Early College access has grown exponentially as well as equitably. In addition, the Chicago Roadmap focuses on expanding and providing seamless access to high-quality programs, advising and supports, career exploration and preparedness in an effort to equitably increase student outcomes in college enrollment, college degree attainment, and employment.

“Days like today help illustrate why our partnership with CPS is so important.  Through early college programs, we provide students with life-changing opportunities to accelerate their path to earning a post-secondary credential,” said Chancellor Juan Salgado, City Colleges of Chicago. “We know that when we support our students, they thrive, and when they thrive, so do our communities and our city.”

The partnership continues to expand, offering students throughout the city the opportunity to advance academically beyond fulfilling their high school requirements. When comparing the demographics of the CPS graduating class to the demographics of the District’s early college earners, promising trends are emerging for CPS Black students. Nearly a third (32.3 percent)  of our graduating seniors are Black, whereas 37.1 percent  of milestone earners are Black, showing that access to programming helps students post more equitable  outcomes. Across all early college partners, Latinx and Black students represented up to 80 percent of all early college credit achievement, with their strongest presence among the associate degree earners.

Early college courses are college-level general education and career and technical education courses and can enhance a student’s overall high school GPA. Credits can be transferred to many colleges, but policies vary by school. Dual credit courses are taught by qualified CPS teachers at high school campuses across the city and online at Virtual Academy with support from CCC to ensure lessons meet the same standards as courses taken at a CCC college. Dual enrollment courses are taught by CCC Faculty throughout the City Colleges of Chicago system, colleges offer both online and in-person coursework to CPS students.

“At 16, I was balancing college courses, sports, work, and my personal life and I loved every minute of it,” said Deja Bailey, Class of 2024 graduate attending the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign this fall. “If someone had told me four years ago that I would be the first person to graduate from Gwendolyn Brooks High School with an associate degree, I wouldn’t have believed them. Yet, here we are! I am grateful to the City Colleges of Chicago, my counselors, and my family for their unwavering support and assistance.”

The partnership aims to transform the relationship between CPS and CCC from a successful collaboration to full convergence  that expands access to high-quality programs and support.

Other partners like the DeVry University Advantage Academy make it possible for CPS students to earn an associate degree in information technology and networking with a specialization in network systems administration or an associate degree in business administration.

Alexia Arroyo, a senior at DeVry University Advantage Academy, is among the students graduating with an associate degree  – specifically in networking systems administration from DeVry.

She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in computer engineers, encompassing both hardware and software technology.

“Engaging in a college-level class has deepened my technological knowledge and sustained my passion for computers,” Arroyo said. “I am confident that my plans will guide me toward my dream career as a software engineer.”

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About Chicago Public Schools

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is dedicated to providing a high-quality education to all students, beginning with the District’s free full-day preschool programming for four-year-old scholars and continuing through neighborhood, magnet and selective-enrollment elementary schools that provide a rigorous K-8 education with schools that specialize in the fine arts, world language and culture, dual language, STEM, International Baccalaureate (IB), classical programs, and more. The rising District-wide freshmen-on-track and high school graduation rates reflect the hard work of the CPS community, including families, staff, and students across 635 schools. CPS celebrates the diversity of its more than 322,000 students who cite 182 home languages. Learn more about CPS at www.cps.edu and connect with CPS on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

About City Colleges of Chicago

City Colleges of Chicago is one of the largest community college systems in Illinois, serving more than 60,000 students annually at seven colleges and five satellite sites. City Colleges’ vision is to be recognized as the city’s most accessible higher education engine of socioeconomic mobility and racial equity – empowering all Chicagoans to take part in building a stronger and more just city. Learn more about City Colleges of Chicago at www.ccc.edu.

About Chicago Roadmap

By providing access to high-quality programs, advising and supports, career exploration, and preparedness, the Chicago Roadmap strives to dramatically and equitably increase student outcomes in college enrollment, college degree attainment, and employment. The Roadmap is made possible thanks in part to generous philanthropic contributions made to the Children First Fund: the Chicago Public Schools Foundation (CFF) and the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation (CCCF). Children First Fund serves as a fiscal sponsor for the Chicago Roadmap and works in close partnership with CCCF to support the advancement of the Chicago Roadmap.