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Get free tuition through another round of Transform Lake County

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Dec 20, 2022

College of Lake County (CLC) is recruiting more students looking to have their tuition fully paid for through the fourth round of the college’s Transform Lake County program, CLC’s implementation of the $700,00 Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) Grant from the Illinois Community College Board. 

Maria Castrejon working on a carThe WEI Grant focuses on expanding and providing equitable training opportunities for minority students in at-risk communities in high-demand fields. It allows individuals the ability to obtain full-time employment paying at least 30 percent above the regional living wage. In four years, CLC has received  more than $4 million worth of WEI grants. 

CLC will recruit and serve underrepresented, low-income and underemployed Lake County community members with workforce training, focusing on North Chicago, Waukegan, Zion and Round Lake. They can apply to earn short-term career certificates in automotive collision repair, automotive technology, heating and air conditioning engineering technology or phlebotomy. Classes are taught at the Grayslake and Lakeshore Campuses. 

Scholarship funds cover all tuition and fees, course materials and industry exam fees. Students also receive a cost-of-living stipend and are provided with free workshops.  

The goal of the program is to create more equity in the Lake County workforce by offering a no-cost education. 

Maria Castrejon is a recipient of the grant and began her journey at CLC this fall. She’s studying automotive technology, something she’s wanted to pursue since she was in high school after seeing how much money her mother had to spend on car repairs. 

Castrejon, who grew up in North Chicago and currently lives in Waukegan, has been saving to attend college since graduating high school in 2014. She saw an ad for the grant on Facebook and didn’t think it could be true. 

“I didn't believe it when I saw there was a chance for free tuition,” she said. “I applied for it and ended up getting it. Now I’m closer to achieving my dream.” 

Not only does the no-cost education make going to school possible, but the stipend helps eliminate stress outside of the classroom. 

“I really appreciate the grant because it's giving me little breaks,” she said. “It helps us pay a bill or pay to get the tools we need.” 

For more information about the grant and to apply, visit  

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 in 2019 and is a national leader in many areas, including campus internationalization, sustainability and conservation.