UChicago to welcome more first-generation students

The University of Chicago will welcome a record number of first-generation students to its incoming Class of 2019, increasing by 43 percent the number of students who are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

The rise in first-generation students is one reflection of the University’s growing efforts to broaden access to the College and support qualified students of all backgrounds throughout their education. Last fall the University launched the No Barriers program, which eliminated student loan requirements from undergraduate need-based aid packages and expanded opportunities for career development.


In another record, the proportion of admitted students who have chosen to attend UChicago rose above 60 percent this year, an encouraging indicator of students’ enthusiasm for the College. Diversity of the class grew on many fronts, with higher numbers of African American and Hispanic students, and those receiving need-based financial aid.

“The College values both the quality of imagination and the capacity to boldly look at ideas in new ways,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. “When our students bring diverse perspectives to distinctive educational settings such as the Core curriculum, they are better able to formulate robust and plausible ideas that can stand the test of argument. I am delighted that the No Barriers program already is helping us achieve these fundamental goals.”

More than 30,000 students applied to the College this year, with more than 11,000 applying for early action.

“It’s gratifying that we are in a better position than ever to welcome students of all backgrounds and from around the world to be part of the unparalleled educational experience at UChicago,” said James G. Nondorf, vice president for Enrollment and Student Advancement and dean of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Diversity of the College’s international students also is increasing, Nondorf said, thanks in part to support from the University’s alumni, friends and family. A generous gift of $13 million from the Neubauer Family Foundation expanded support for international students and students from Hispanic communities, and a gift of $20 million from University Trustee and College alumnus Nassef Sawiris provides funding for academically gifted students from schools in Egypt.

A major priority of the University’s recent aid initiatives is to provide support for students throughout their time at UChicago and beyond graduation.

For example, No Barriers has provided more than 100 free information seminars to prospective students nationwide, in part to help first-generation students and their families navigate the process of applying for admission and financial aid.

Many first-generation students also will benefit from enhancement of the Odyssey Scholarships program, which assists students from families with limited incomes. Among the changes announced in October 2014:

  • All Odyssey Scholars are guaranteed paid summer internship or research opportunities after their first year in the College.
  • Odyssey Scholars can focus on meaningful academic and personal development during the academic year, with no employment requirements for the academic year.
  • Community building through Odyssey pre-Orientation programs and new programming in career and leadership training, including community building during Odyssey pre-Orientation programs.
  • Additional funds are available for Odyssey Scholars to take part in College programming, including study abroad.