College Now!

Going to college or earning a career certificate increases your chances of getting a good job. The average salary of a college graduate is almost double that of someone who does not go to college. The bottom line is that going to college means more money, more opportunities and a better life for your family. We have several opportunities for you – everything from scholarships to cash stipends, tutoring to mentoring. Learn about the resources available to help you.


Level of education completed Average earnings in 2017
Less than a high school diploma $33,800
High school graduate, no college $46,228
Some college, no degree $51,324
Associate degree (occupational program) $51,168
Associate degree (academic program) $53,040
Bachelor’s degree $82,160
Master’s degree $94,640
Doctoral degree (e.g., Ph.D.) $123,084
Professional degree (e.g., M.D., J.D.) $135,668

In addition to higher earnings, unemployment rates tend to be lower as you get more education (i.e., it’s easier to find a job). Explore career options at StudentAid.gov/careersearch.

Federal Student Aid
An office of the U.S. Department of Education StudentAid.gov May 2018. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

Attend Your Community College for Free with One Million Degrees (OMD)

One Million Degrees accelerates community college students’ progress on career pathways to economic mobility. OMD provides scholars with holistic support including coaching, financial assistance, personal support and professional development. Click here to learn more about how OMD empowers scholars to take charge of their own success, and take a peek into the community you could be a part of!

Barber & Cosmetology School

Financial Aid for Beauty School Students

Cosmetologists provide very personal services to their clientele in salons and spas. Since cosmetology covers a wide range of services, including hair styling, facials, skincare, and makeup, there are many career options available.

If you’ve chosen a career in this field, you may be concerned about paying for your training. There are many resources available to help you pay for beauty school, including grants, loans, scholarships and work-study positions. The options are not mutually exclusive, so if you receive a scholarship or grant, but still need assistance, you can also apply for loans. When planning for life after school, however, it’s essential to be mindful of your total debt and aware of whether you’ll be able to repay your loans. Here’s a breakdown of your options for financial assistance:

Scholarships and Grants: Scholarships are often given to students with exceptional academic records, but not always. While a high GPA is worth celebrating, there are hundreds of scholarships that look beyond applicants’ academic standings. These are often one-time awards that can help with tuition or fees – some full-tuition scholarships are also available. Scholarships and grants usually require an application. Check with your school to see what grants they offer in-house, as well as with professional associations and private agencies. Read our scholarship guide for an overview of beauty industry-related scholarships and tips on winning them.

Federal Financial Aid: Cosmetology and other beauty school students can also qualify for federal student aid if the school is appropriately accredited and the program is over 350 hours. To apply for federal financial aid, you’ll need to complete a FAFSA application every academic year. Federal financial aid includes both federal student loans and Pell grants.

Federal Student Loans: The U.S. Department of Education serves as your lender and will determine how much you can borrow. Depending on the program and school, a student is typically required to maintain a certain number of course hours to continue eligibility of financial aid. Federal direct student loans charge a fixed interest rate, which is usually lower than the rate charged on private loans. Once you’ve completed your education, you will need to begin paying back your loans. Be sure to factor that interest in when planning for your future payments.

Pell Grants: These are awarded to students who have significant financial need. The grants do not require repayment.

Private Loans: Private loans are an option for beauty school students who have good credit. Unlike federal loans, your school does not need to be accredited for you to be eligible for these. However, interest rates for these loans can be much higher than federal rates, so be sure to weigh your options carefully. The personal finance company NerdWallet has a breakdown of a few good private loan options. To apply for a private loan, you will need to apply directly to the lender, which will likely conduct a credit check. Several sites give recommendations. It’s best to compare and contrast and try to get the best interest rate.

An essential point about loans is that even if you don’t graduate from your program, you will be responsible for paying back all loans that you took out, federal or private. Some scholarships and grants may have similar requirements; be sure to read the fine print.

Need Help With Student Loan Debt Relief

Summer is offering free assistance to all Cook County residents. If you or someone close to you needs help managing their student loans, take a look at your options today. Summer has cutting-edge tools to see which federal loans are still due and we can help enroll you in free federal programs to lower payments. Sign up today: meetsummer.org/il

SWC Institute

 SWC Institute is offering a tuition-free technical training and education program that helps eligible men and women, ages 18 and older, acquire skills and educational opportunities they need to establish rewarding careers 

Women Business Development Center


Women’s Business Development Center 8 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 400 Chicago, IL 60603 312.853.3477 [email protected]

Satellite Offices

WBDC-Aurora 43 West Galena Boulevard Aurora, IL 60506 [email protected]

Thrive Collaborative Center 712 S. River Street, Aurora, IL [email protected]

IL SBDC at WBDC/South Suburbs 4137 Sauk Trail, Suite 132, Room V Richton Park, Illinois 60471 312-758-7704 [email protected]

IL SBDC at WBDC/Little Village 3610 West 26th Street Chicago, Illinois 60623 773.521.5387 [email protected]

FREE Tuition at the University of Illinois

Starting with the 2019 incoming class, the University of Illinois will cover tuition and fees for up to four years for all qualified in-state students.

Who qualifies?

  • You’re an Illinois resident (parents listed on the FAFSA are also Illinois residents)
  • Your family income is $61,000 or less
  • Your family’s assets are $50,000 or less
  • You’re admitted as a new freshman or transfer student
  • You’re under the age of 24

Paying for College and Scholarship Information

Get Connected for College!

Looking for help with getting connected to the world wide web? Purchasing an affordable laptop? Comcast has programs that help residents with low-cost computers and affordable internet access at home.


Scholarship for Careers in Healthcare

This exciting scholarship opportunity allows you to gain the education required for a rewarding career in Community Health, Nursing, Health Information Administration, or Occupational Therapy

College Preparation Checklist

This checklist will tell you how to get ready for college as early as 1st grade – and tell you how the government will help you pay for it.


FAFSA should be the first resource you check out when applying for financial aid toward college. Use the links/apps below to see if you qualify for assistance:

FAFSA Website

myStudentAid for Google Play

my StudentAid for Iphone

Illinois College2Career

Illinois College2Career helps you find Illinois colleges that best fit your educational priorities and career goals.

UPS Chicagoland Regional College Program CRCP

UPS pays up to $25,000 in tuition for their employees. Click here to learn more.

CEDA Scholarship

CEDA provides Fall Semester Scholarships for IL Colleges.

Evanston Scholars

Evanston Scholars serves ETHS sophomores who have the potential and commitment to go to college, but who do not have the resources to succeed on their own.

Who Can Apply:

We are looking for high school sophomore students in Evanston who fit most of the following criteria:

  • Academically ambitious, motivated, and committed as evidenced by a strong academic performance (over 2.7 GPA)
  • Come from a low-income household
  • Person of color
  • First-generation college student
  • Committed to their education and have a strong desire to complete college
Applications will be accepted for the Class of 2022 (Sophomores) in April 2020
Application Due Date:  Spring 2020

Gateway Scholarship

The Gateways Scholarship Program will pay a portion of tuition for eligible professionals working in early care and education or school-age programs who want to earn college credit, Credentials, or degrees. The courses you take need to be in early childhood education (ECE) or child development (CD). You can be enrolled in an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree program or taking classes toward a certificate, endorsement, or Credential.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible to receive a Gateways Scholarship, you must:

  1. Care for children in an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed program or Illinois State Board of Education funded Preschool for All program.
  2. Employed by your current program for at least one year. (90 days if employed at an ExceleRate Bronze, Silver or Gold Circle of Quality program.)
  3. Work an average of 15 hours per week.
  4. Meet wage requirements.
  5. Be a citizen of the United States or a legal resident.
  6. Commit to future work in early care and education or school-age care.