ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — More than 175 Rockford students are getting the chance to go to a local university for free.

The Rockford School District took time Wednesday afternoon to recognize seniors who have been awarded money from “Rockford Promise.” It was the second class to pass through the program, and organizers said that it is growing.

They said that they have even heard of people moving into the Rockford School District just to benefit from it.

“I’ve worked for four years trying to get into the college of my dreams,” said Senior Jonathan Dumois of Rockford East High School.

Dumois has one less thing to worry about when it comes to furthering his education because he is a recipient of a college scholarship through the “Rockford Promise.” Dumois, along with the other scholars, had to maintain a 3.0 GPA, have attended RPS since November 2020, and live within the city limits to be considered.

“I have gone through a lot,” Dumois said. “Especially the pandemic has been hard on everyone, myself included, especially with math. It’s been a challenge, but I had a bunch of people helping me at East.”

Sol Jensen is the vice president of enrollment management and marketing communications at Northern Illinois University, and he said that these students will have resources to help them through graduation.

“We know that finances is really one of the biggest gateways. It’s not really admission, but it’s about whether or not they can afford to be able to come,” Jensen said. “I think having this program that’s offered and guaranteed for 4 years, it’s something they can really rely on from the start.”

Many promise recipients will be first-generation college students. Dumois’ mother Yuraine said that it is a big weight off of her shoulders.

“Cost of a university as we know, is expensive, and the city and all the donors are helping me as a parent to help Jonathan get there is going to relieve me a lot,” she said.

NIU is one of three higher education partners for “Rockford Promise.” One hundred and seventy-five students will be attending NIU, and more will attend Rockford University and Rock Valley College, but that number has not yet been finalized.