Financial Support

April 21, 2020

To: Members of the University Community
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Financial Support
Date: April 21, 2020
Every member of our community has been affected by COVID-19 and we recognize that many students and families will have increased financial challenges as a result of the current situation. Over the last weeks, the University has received a number of questions about tuition as well as financial support for students. I write to further community awareness of the University’s principles and commitment.
The University’s financial commitment to students is guided by two core principles:

  • We must ensure as much continuity of instruction and support services as possible, so that students can continue to make progress toward their degrees and pursue the careers of their choice.
  • We will honor our commitments of financial support for students, and make increased financial aid available to students and families with increased demonstrated financial need. 

These principles are essential to continue delivering a transformative, empowering education for our students. They guide the University’s provision – and in some cases expansion – of a variety of supports and resources available to students, according to their stage of education.

  • The University has expanded its extensive and longstanding commitment to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all domestic undergraduate students, including students for whom COVID-19 has caused an unforeseen financial challenge. For additional information on financial aid options for undergraduates, please visit the Spring 2020 in the College webpage.
  • The University has extensive financial aid programs for students in our diverse professional, PhD, and master’s programs. Graduate students with questions about financial aid should contact their dean of students.
  • The University maintains an emergency assistance fund to help students with unexpected costs not related to tuition.

Common questions
1. Why can’t the University reduce tuition for the Spring Quarter?

Tuition is an essential source of funding for the University’s ongoing operations, including support for financial aid as well as faculty and staff salaries. Reducing tuition for students regardless of their financial means would require substantial cutbacks in operations, which would hinder the University’s ability to provide all of its current educational offerings and to fulfill its core research and education mission.

2. Why can’t the University simply use the endowment to fund a tuition reduction?
The challenges caused by COVID-19 have raised a number of questions, including whether the University can draw from its endowment to fund a tuition reduction.
The vast majority of the University’s endowment is legally restricted, including funds committed during the recent fundraising campaign. The principal generally cannot be spent and those funds that can be spent must be used for designated purposes. The University cannot legally repurpose restricted funds for different needs.
3. What if we can’t make our tuition payment on time?

For students or families whose ability to make payments has been affected by COVID-19, the University has provided a Financial Hardship Form to apply for a payment extension. Otherwise, the University policy on timely payments remains the same.
We know these are challenging times, and this pandemic has brought about economic strain. The University is committed to providing help whenever possible to members of our community who are in need, while ensuring all students continue to have the opportunity to experience and contribute to this University’s distinctive educational environment.
I encourage students who have been impacted by COVID-19 to work directly with their school’s financial aid office, student affairs staff, deans of students, academic advisors, or other support systems the University has established to assist students during this challenging time.

UChicagoSocial: Campus and Student Life