Financial aid budget forecast to grow 5 percent as UChicago implements new aid initiatives

In the midst of new initiatives to support students and broaden access to a University of Chicago education, the University anticipates an undergraduate financial aid budget of $117 million for the 2015-2016 academic year—a 5 percent increase over last year.

More than 60 percent of students in the College receive financial support. Before taking aid into account, the cost of undergraduate education for next year will be $49,026 for tuition and $14,772 for room and board—a 4 percent increase from last year. The average need-based grant for College students is about $40,000, substantially reducing the financial obligation for most students and families receiving aid.

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The increase in financial aid takes into account new commitments from the University’s comprehensive No Barriers initiative, which includes elimination of student loans from undergraduate, need-based financial aid packages. No Barriers is being phased in, beginning with the incoming class that will arrive in the fall of 2015. The program replaces student loans with grants and allows students to graduate debt-free.

“We remain committed to ensuring that students from all backgrounds can access the University of Chicago’s distinctive educational experience,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. “Family income should never be an impediment to the creative and talented students who are admitted to the College.”

The University also is offering expanded financial aid opportunities, starting this year for international students and students from Hispanic communities. Those initiatives will be supported by a $13 million donation from the Neubauer Family Foundation and $20 million from University Trustee and College alumnus Nassef Sawiris.

Philanthropy supports student aid

UChicago student indebtedness at graduation is low by national standards—about $23,000. That figure will decrease further with the implementation of No Barriers. UChicago’s undergraduate financial aid budget has more than doubled since the 2008-09 academic year, when the figure was $55 million.

Because about 60 percent of College students receive aid, the growth in revenue as a result of this year’s tuition increase will be significantly less than 4 percent. The net increase in revenue is projected to be about 2 percent for 2015-16.

The University of Chicago meets the full demonstrated financial need for all students who attend the College. The financial needs of next year’s incoming class will not be finalized until enrollment in the fall, but the University has budgeted for a 5 percent increase in overall aid, based on expected needs and commitments such as No Barriers.

The University is committed to increasing support for financial aid as part of The University of Chicago Campaign: Inquiry and Impact, the most ambitious and comprehensive fundraising campaign in the University’s history. The campaign’s $4.5 billion goal includes $649 million for student support and financial aid, of which $219 million has been raised to date from 21,772 alumni, parents and friends.  

No Barriers builds on the successes of other aid initiatives designed to ensure that those who are admitted to the College can attend, regardless of financial resources. The Odyssey Scholarship program, created in 2008 with the $100 million gift of an anonymous College alumnus, targets low-income and first-generation college students, and next year will provide increased financial support, career guidance and mentorship. UChicago Promise, which began in 2012, helps students from the city of Chicago gain admission to and succeed in college, including highly selective schools nationwide. In addition to eliminating student loans from financial aid awards, No Barriers removes admission application fees for students applying for need-based aid, simplifies the financial aid application process and provides leadership and career support for low-income students.

Recent gifts to the University provide financial support for students while enriching academic, cultural and social diversity, with increased opportunities for international students who cannot access some traditional forms of American financial aid. The University recently announced the creation of the Onsi Sawiris Scholars Program through a $20 million gift from University Trustee Nassef Sawiris, AB’82. The program includes support for full-time College students, including tuition, living expenses, travel and enrichment for students from schools in Egypt.

In December, the Neubauer Family Foundation committed $13 million to create the Neubauer No Barriers Scholarships for international students, as well as enhanced support for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Outstanding students who share the Neubauers’ commitment to the Hispanic and Latino community are being considered for new undergraduate scholarships and opportunities for summer research and career enhancement. In addition, the University is offering full scholarships for college preparatory summer programs for promising high school students from predominantly Hispanic or Latino high schools in the United States.