NORTH LAWNDALE — The Chicago Housing Authority plans to award as many as 100 scholarships of up to $2,500 each for tenants who plan to enroll this fall in an accredited post-secondary institution.
The program, which is new this year, is also open to residents of private housing who use a Housing Choice Voucher.
To be eligible, applicants must be a high school senior or a current undergraduate or graduate student with a minimum GPA of 2.0. The deadline to complete an online application is May 15 and winners will be notified by August. And while scholarship checks will be made payable to the school, the check will be mailed to the student.
CHA officials said one goal of the program is to further help tenants become self-sufficient.
"We are working to do what we can to assist our residents with their education choices," said Kristen Hamer, director of community relations for the CHA. "Through our research we estimate that 2,600 residents were enrolled in post-secondary schools last year."
As the economy continues to recover, state and federal financial aid remains tight, and more scholarship programs areneeded, said Malcolm Burk, 19, a freshman at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Burk lives with his mother, a HCV holder, in a subsidized apartment on the West Side in North Lawndale.
"I could definitely use some help paying for school. My mom took out a parent loan and I took out a loan, too, because I did not get enough in financial aid to pay for everything," Burk said. "I applied for a lot of scholarships but did not win any.
"But hopefully I can win one from CHA."
Tenants who plan to attend City Colleges of Chicago are eligible for a separate, existing scholarship program.
Hamer said for degree-seeking students at City Colleges, "the CHA will pay off their balance once all financial aid have been applied."
Michael Merchant, CHA's newly appointed CEO, said many tenants have benefited from educational assistance provided by the agency.
Students "have gone to Yale and Cornell, have become teachers, lawyers and bankers and have owned private businesses," Merchant said. "CHA residents have proven that, with the right resources, they can go on to do whatever they want in life. These scholarships will help another generation of CHA residents pursue their dreams.”