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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

First Lady & Education Sec. Visit Sauk Valley Community College, Praising 'Promise' Program

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Sauk Valley Community College
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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, along with several Illinois lawmakers, visited Sauk Valley Community College in Dixon on Monday to learn more about the school's upcoming “Impact Program.”

Dr. Biden -- herself a community college professor -- spoke about how vital institutions like Sauk Valley are to students and to forging connections in their community.

“This school supports students in so many ways," she said, "from individualized counseling to work programs to with local manufacturing.” 

The community college’s Impact Program will be one of more than 350 tuition-free “College Promise” initiatives across the country.

Students will soon be able to earn three years-worth of tuition at Sauk Valley Community College for the price of 100 hours of community service while they’re in high school.

Dr. Biden served as the honorary chair of College Promise’s advisory board when it launched in 2015. She has been a longtime advocate for free access to community college. Her husband, President Joe Biden, promised two years of “debt-free” community college as a candidate.

“We can't afford to exclude so many from continuing their education, just because they come from certain income brackets or certain areas, " said Dr. Biden, "and that's why we launched College Promise.” 

Secretary Cardona spoke about the American Rescue Plan’s $40 billion Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, and how the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plans could help rebuild college buildings.

Sauk Valley’s project has been in the works for several years. Sauk Valley President David Helmich told WNIJ that promise programs can increase enrollment up to 20% and added, “more importantly, the economic vitality in the region is transformed.”

Area students will be able to start signing up next year. To qualify, students must sign up by the fall of their freshman year and complete 25 hours of community service per year.