College Partnership Expansion Helps More Students Stay in Illinois and Avoid Student Loan Debt

Students at Over 40 Area Colleges Can Earn a Paycheck and a Monthly Bonus While UPS Pays Tuition

At a time when Illinois’ college students are increasingly challenged to find creative ways to pay for college, the Chicagoland Regional College Program (CRCP) is expanding its efforts to put an affordable higher education within reach. Since July 2003, the CRCP has been assisting students at seven area colleges who work part-time at the UPS facility in Hodgkins, Illinois, through a combination of tuition assistance, a monthly stipend, and a paycheck. Starting fall 2017, the CRCP launches its Affiliate Institutions initiative, which will increase the number of eligible colleges from seven to over forty, making space for a 25% increase in enrollment. Program participants will be eligible for a financial package that “speaks to the concerns across higher education in Illinois about retention, outstanding student debt and limited funding options,” says Dr. Debrah Jefferson, CRCP Executive Director.

CRCP students are newly hired as part-time package handlers or part-time supervisors to work one of two overnight shifts at UPS in Hodgkins, earning $10.20 an hour while taking home a weekly paycheck. At the same time, they attend classes at a participating college, where UPS pays tuition and fees up to $5,250 per year. Finally, students receive a monthly stipend of between $300 and $600. It all adds up to nearly $15,000 in their pockets along with over $5,000 in paid tuition. Participants also benefit from academic support, especially helpful to those who are new to college or returning after some time.

According to Santario Washington, a 2017 Prairie State College nursing graduate, “When I heard about the CRCP, I did not believe it. Because of all the benefits, tuition, medical benefits, and a paycheck, it all seemed too good to be true.”

Washington, 23, plans to continue in the CRCP at Governors State University where she has been awarded a full scholarship to earn her bachelor’s degree. “If it was not for CRCP, I would never have gone back to college because I didn’t have the resources to pay for my education. Never give up, manage your time wisely, balance your college and work schedule. Every minute counts,” advises Washington.

Connor Hazzard of Evergreen Park, says “The CRCP has helped me focus more on my education and less on worrying about how I am going to afford college. I can achieve great success now that I am with CRCP.” Hazzard earned a 3.8 GPA at Moraine Valley Community College for spring 2017, his first semester in the program.

The CRCP hosts monthly info sessions where interested persons can learn about the program and apply for fall 2017 admittance. The next event is Wednesday, June 7th, 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm at the UPS employment center in Hodgkins, Illinois. Complete eligibility requirements can be found on the CRCP website at