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Scholarships provide tuition free ticket to law school for CLC grad

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jun 17, 2021

“Every school I’ve attended has been tuition free.” That’s not something every student can say, but Ryan Haass touts the achievement proudly.

Ryan HaassThe College of Lake County (CLC) graduate from Vernon Hills remembers spending hours and hours researching colleges and scholarships. The digging really paid off in the end because he will have received more than $200,000 in scholarships once he completes his law degree from the University of Illinois.

“I can’t imagine having to pay those bills for my education,” he said.

Haass started earning scholarships through CLC’s Honors Scholars program. In addition to other merit-based scholarships, he also received federal Pell grants through financial aid. Haass became involved at CLC. He competed with the speech team, led Phi Theta Kappa, edited the student newspaper and took a job as a tutor. He credits his involvement for building a network to open scholarship opportunities.

CLC Instructor and Honors Scholars Coordinator Dr. Nick Schevera remarked, "In all my years of teaching, I found there is no one more directed, focused and determined in attaining his goals and dreams than Ryan. Even after graduation, he has remained firmly connected with the CLC community, and his success provides a clear road map for our current students to follow."

Haass’ success as an Honors Scholar landed him a full-tuition scholarship when he transferred to Lake Forest College. CLC has a partnership with Lake Forest to offer several scholarship opportunities, but the Lake Forest Transfer Scholarship is available exclusively to CLC Scholar Program students. Worth $90,000, scholarships started paying off for Haass.

He advises students to do the research, “You can’t expect everyone to tell you where the money is.” He also suggests students talk to their professors, “They want to get to know you, so show you’re interested in getting their help.” And finally, Haass recommends students get involved to make a name for themselves, “CLC has so many different opportunities.”

His academic pursuit led him to study philosophy and later legal studies. He did a lot of research looking at finances and outcome data to measure the cost of attending law school and the estimated salary he could expect. After doing his cost-benefit analysis of the 20 different law schools he applied to, Haass determined one of the top 30 law schools in the country, University of Illinois, was the best fit. It didn’t hurt that University of Illinois was one of the law schools to award him a full-ride scholarship based on his GPA and LSAT score.

Haass aspires to go into corporate “big” law where entry-level salaries start at $180,000 out of law school. He’s made some terrific financial decisions that will leave him with no college debt and excellent prospects as he starts his career.

“I was a terrible student when I graduated from Stevenson High School,” Haass admits. But it makes his success story so much sweeter. “I turned my life around in a very serious way at CLC. The support and resources are there if you just go for it.”

Haass continues working as a tutor at CLC this summer, giving back to help the community that has helped him so much.

“The college is like a family to me. I feel at home here.”

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.