By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer Monday afternoon to announce the launch of UChicago Promise, a program that will help Chicago high school graduates that attend the university graduate debt free.
“As a society we need to be clear, a college degree makes a huge difference in the lives of students and the trajectory of families,” said Zimmer, who said many students don’t apply to colleges because neither they nor their families are aware of the opportunities that are available to them. “Chicago students should be aiming very high to reach their potential, and we want them to attend the best college possible that suits their needs, interest and abilities.”
Zimmer said UChicago Promise would allow Chicago residents who attend high school in Chicago and are admitted to the University of Chicago to attend the university without receiving any loans in their financial aid packages. The loans will be replaced by grants, which do not have to be repaid. The application fee will also be waived for residents in this category. The program will include an Admissions Academy that will support and train educators by providing professional development. The academy will also offer resources to guide students and families through college admissions and financial aid processes to any selective four-year college. Finally, the university will extend its Metcalf Internship Program to fund 12 internships to support the new Admissions Academy. The UChicago Promise Metcalf interns will work with the professional staff from the university’s admissions office to launch the academy and, in a later stage of the program, be assigned to select high schools as guidance counselors to help coach students.
Emanuel said he was thankful to the U. of C. for single-handedly taking on the challenges facing kids, parents and families today by making college more affordable.
“The number one reason for debt for most young adults is college, the number one reason they don’t apply is costs, the number one reason they drop out is costs,” Emanuel said. “Every child today on average that graduates from school is graduating with $25,000 of debt, so you get a diploma on one side, flip it over – you get debt number already. That’s how we start off in life and that’s the wrong way to build a future.”