Free Year of College for 'C' Students?

Article excerpt

Byline: Kerry Lester klester@dailyherald.com

A "C" average plus a clean rap sheet plus a high school diploma could equal a free year at community college in Illinois.

Thats what Democratic state Rep. Mike Boland is proposing.

Boland, chairman of the Houses Higher Education Committee, held a round-table discussion Tuesday afternoon with Elgin Community College officials about his proposed legislation, dubbed the Illinois Challenge Scholarship.

Boland, of East Moline, said hes visited 15 other community colleges around the state in recent weeks, including Harper College in Palatine, Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove and Kishwaukee College near DeKalb, looking for help in tweaking the idea as he prepares his final draft of the legislation.

The Challenge Scholarship, he said, would require eighth-grade students and a parent or guardian to sign a pledge to maintain a "C" average throughout high school and to avoid arrest or suspension from school for drugs, alcohol or violent behavior.

The academic bar is set relatively low for a reason to appeal to students that dont see college as a priority.

Upon graduation, students who kept their pledge would get a year of free tuition at a community college, or the equivalent of that dollar amount to apply toward tuition at a four-year school of their choice.

How to pay for it? Boland said hes collected a number of suggestions in recent months, including imposing $100 court fees, specialty license plates that would support the scholarships, and donations from individuals and foundations. …