Transfer students from community colleges will get the financial assistance that they need to complete their degrees, thanks to a generous $500,000 donation from the CME Group Foundation.
Over the next two years, the funds will support 13 Northern Illinois University students who are accepted into a field of study that leads to a financial industry career. The scholarship recipients must have at least a 3.25 GPA, show Pell Grant eligibility and represent a minority. The scholarships will cover tuition and room and board.
As one of the first five CME Group Foundation scholars, Luis Arredondo said that coming to NIU happened because he was willing to take a risk.
“When I was in community college, I actually was not planning on getting a bachelor’s. I was going to stop there and do information technology work,” Arredondo said. “Part of the reason was because of the money.”
Arredondo had gained exceptional technological skills by working for five years, earning IT certification and completing programming classes to get his associate degree in computer information systems from Morton College in Cicero, Illinois, his hometown.
However, he thought he could do better with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Northern.
Both finance major Mark Gonzalez of Chicago and accounting and finance major Remigio Nanez of Mendota, Illinois, said their fathers wanted them to become auto mechanics to have a guaranteed job. Like Arredondo, they decided to be the first in their family to pursue an undergraduate degree.
Besides free schooling, the students are entitled to special support services, including research, networking and leadership opportunities and business etiquette instruction. They are in a living-learning community at Gilbert Hall so they can socialize and study together and have greater access to professors. Other majors qualifying for the program include applied math, economics, and operations and information management.
They also will be considered for summer internships at CME Group, the world’s leading derivatives marketplace.
A study released by The Education Trust in December 2015 shows that while colleges are increasing graduation rates across the board for all races, minorities are still trailing. The graduation rate for white students in 2013 was 64 percent, compared with 50 percent for minority students, according to the study.
The scholarship program sponsored by the CME Group Foundation will help students complete their degrees, achieve career success and relieve financial constraints.
“For example, our scholarship program can provide emergency funds to ensure that we’re not losing students due to unexpected financial pressures at home,” said Jim Oliff, chair of the CME Group Foundation. “Even with the help of Pell Grants or other resources, unexpected events can create financial strains that cause students to drop out of college. We recognized that need and structured our program to ensure that the flexibility is there to help these students accordingly, not only when tuition is due.”