Fresh Start

Thousands of Chicago Students Eligible for Debt Forgiveness Program: Lightfoot

The program encourages students both going to college or took time away from school to obtain a degree or certificate with any prior debt waived

Lori Lightfoot
Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Students across Chicago will receive a financial fresh start after Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city's student debt relief program on Tuesday.

The new debt forgiveness pilot program, Fresh Start, helps more than 21,000 students planning to attend or who previously attended City Colleges of Chicago continue their education despite financial hardship.

"Many of Chicago's students are kept from finishing college due to debt that forces them to pause their academic journey," Lightfoot said. "With Fresh Start, former City Colleges' students will be able to finish college debt-free, pursue their dream careers and set themselves up for success in the post-COVID economy."

The program encourages students both going to college or took time away from school to obtain a degree or certificate with any prior debt waived.

Prospective students can participate in this program by doing the following:

  1. Apply to City Colleges of Chicago
  2. Apply for financial aid through www.FAFSA.gov by Aug. 1
  3. Sign the Fresh Start commitment form at www.My.CCC.edu
  4. Submit a $75 reinstatement fee
  5. Take a placement test for both math and English
  6. Meet with an advisor and register for classes (available at www.ccc.edu/VSS)
  7. Attend a brief workshop and financial empowerment coaching session
  8. Arrange tuition payments for the semester
  9. Complete the degree

Once an individual has enrolled in the Fresh Start program, half of the debt will be waived given the student remains in the current term and maintains Satisfactory Academic Progress. The remainder of the debt will be waived after completing the given credential.

"We’ve also set tuition payment deadlines for each semester, ensuring our students remain in good standing and can continue in their classes without getting into new debt," the website said.

Students can find more information on ways to help them pay for college at www.ccc.edu/WaysToPay

The City Colleges of Chicago include Daley, Harold Washington, Kennedy-King, Malcolm X, Olive-Harvey, Truman and Wright.

The Fresh Start debt relief program will run for three years starting Summer 2020 and only applied to debt accumulated prior to Spring 2020.

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