October 29, 2012

Mayor Emanuel Joins University of Chicago President Zimmer to Announce the University's New Initiative to Help Chicago Students Graduate Debt-Free

UChicago Promise Combines No-Loan Financial Aid Packages, Access and Support Programs to Foster College Success

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer to announce the University of Chicago will launch a new program, UChicago Promise, a multipronged initiative designed to help students throughout Chicago gain admission to, pay for and thrive as students at the University of Chicago.

The centerpiece of the initiative is a commitment from the University of Chicago to eliminate loans from the financial aid packages of students from Chicago who are admitted to the College of the University of Chicago—enabling them to graduate free of college debt.

“Chicago is committed to ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality education, from our preschools to our world-renowned universities,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The step taken today by the University of Chicago is a creative program that will help many young Chicagoans achieve their goals and graduate without a financial burden.”

In addition to replacing loans with grants or other aid that need not be repaid, UChicago Promise waives application fees for all Chicago high school students aspiring to attend college at the University of Chicago. It also offers a wide array of support and mentoring programs for students aiming to attend any college. The initiative, which will begin with students entering college in 2013, applies to all City of Chicago residents who attend high school in Chicago.

“The University of Chicago has a long-standing commitment to improving urban education through research, innovative ideas and practices. That commitment begins here in our own city,” said Robert J. Zimmer, President of the University.

Noting that the cost of college and lack of knowledge about the application process can be barriers for some students, Zimmer added, “While the average debt for students at the University has been shrinking in recent years through programs such as the Odyssey Scholarship, UChicago Promise represents an important new step in driving down debt for our students from Chicago—while also answering a call from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help improve college opportunities for the city’s students.”

Research shows that many Chicago students do not take the steps needed to enroll in colleges that match their qualifications. A 2008 study of CPS graduates found that only 27 percent of students qualified to attend a selective college enrolled in a selective college and only 38 percent of students with qualifications to attend a very selective college enrolled in a very selective college.

To help address issues that keep some students from enrolling in colleges that match their qualifications, UChicago Promise also includes the creation of a new Admissions Academy, which will help students, their families and guidance counselors navigate the complexities of college admissions and financial aid. It will support families through the application process and provide guidance counselors with professional development opportunities and other resources. The academy will begin this fall with workshops for families.

The University's Jeff Metcalf Fellows Program will expand to include UChicago Promise Metcalf internships. These paid internships provide for University undergraduates to help launch the Admissions Academy, in conjunction with professional staff from the Admissions Office. A pilot internship program began this fall.

Chicago students can take advantage of the Admissions Academy whether they plan to attend UChicago or any other selective university or liberal arts college.

“One of our primary goals is to significantly impact not only students who are interested in attending UChicago, but also outstanding students who have the potential to attend other very selective four-year colleges,” said James Nondorf, University Vice President and Dean of College Admissions and Financial Aid. “We want to lower the barriers to attending college for all qualified Chicago students by providing resources and support to turn their dreams into reality.”

UChicago Promise complements the University’s deep engagement with K-12 schooling through the Urban Education Institute, which operates the four campuses of the University of Chicago Charter School, serving approximately 1,700 students on the South Side. UEI also prepares educators through the Urban Teacher Education Program and provides crucial data on school reforms through the Consortium on Chicago Schools Research.

UChicago Promise also builds on a strong foundation of existing programs and initiatives sponsored by the University that help Chicago students get the best chance at an excellent education. These include:

  • The Collegiate Scholars Program - a three-year program that prepares talented CPS students in grades 10-12 for college via a core curriculum and enrichment activities. The program works with 45 high schools and now has 294 alumni attending 94 colleges in 30 states.
  • Chicago Police and Fire Scholarships and CPS Scholarships – full-tuition, merit-based scholarships offered to children of Chicago police officers and fire fighters and to students in particular CPS schools.
  • The University Community Service Center – a student-service organization that cultivates partnerships and mentor relationships between CPS and UChicago students through 20 service-based groups that provide 50,000 volunteer hours a year to Chicago Public Schools.
  • The Neighborhood Schools Program – a program that connects UChicago students with teachers, schools, public service offices, and local community organizations. NSP involves 350 undergraduate and graduate students providing more than 35,000 hours a year of mentoring, tutoring and other support at 50 sites throughout South Side communities each year.

UChicago has welcomed more than 50 new students into the College from the city of Chicago this fall. Many of these incoming freshmen have benefitted from the programs aimed at Chicago students. More than one-third (18) are receiving full-tuition scholarships through the University’s Chicago Police and Fire and Chicago Public Schools scholarship programs — an all-time high.

For more information on UChicago Promise, visit www.promise.uchicago.edu.


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