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First-Generation College Applicants

The Voice of First Gen Students at UChicago
The University of Chicago welcomes all and is deeply committed to ensuring that students from every background can find a home here.

The college application process is all about asking questions. What am I looking for in a college? Do I want to participate in research? What size school do I want to go to? What do I even want to study?

As a first-generation college applicant, you may find that you have all of these questions and more. Life at UChicago is all about asking questions, and in the spirit of rigorous inquiry, we want to give you the tools to find your own answers.

Below, you will find information on approaching and tackling the college application process as a first-generation applicant, as well as information about resources that the UChicago community provides for first-generation students on campus.

How To College: First Gen. logo

"How To College: First Gens." sits down with three UChicago students to talk about their experiences as first generation college students who grew up in rural communities.

Transitioning to College: Finding Community Wherever You Go

One of the biggest parts of the college transition is exploring campus and finding a place to call home. UChicago aims to provide incoming students with tools and resources on campus to help students engage with the community and find their best friends for the next four years.

  • Housing
    As a part of the Housing system, all first-year students are part of a small, tight-knit community that quickly becomes their “House” away from home. They’re called Houses. Get it?
  • Advising
    Each first-year student has a full-time academic adviser to help them navigate academic opportunities throughout their time in the College, in addition to many other advising and mentorship opportunities that will help you make the best decisions for your academic experience.
  • Student Clubs and Activities
    UChicago is home to more than 450 Recognized Student Organizations, which range from University Theater, the largest club on campus, to smaller clubs like Phoenix Farms, UChicago’s premier beekeeping and gardening club. Find a club that’s perfect for you, or start your own.
  • Multicultural Organizations
    The University of Chicago is committed to celebrating diversity in all its forms. Explore the clubs and organizations that reflect our range of backgrounds and experiences.
Guide to College
The Coalition for College's guide for applicants

Affording College

Our No Barriers policy allows UChicago students to graduate debt-free and prepared for lifelong success—no matter their chosen major or background prior to enrolling in college. We will work with you and your family to create a financial aid package that fits your unique circumstances and ensures that a UChicago education is within your reach.

  • Any student who applies for need-based financial aid will automatically have the application fee waived
  • Instead of filling out the CSS Profile, applicants have the option to fill out the UChicago worksheet, which is free
  • Meet 100% of demonstrated need in the form of grants, not loans

Additionally, as a part of the Empower Initiative, students who are the first in their families to attend college will receive:

  • The First Phoenix Scholarship, a $20,000 scholarship over four years
  • A guaranteed paid internship for their first summer provided through UChicago Career Advancement, which also provides a dedicated career adviser, a suite of pre-professional “UChicago Careers In” programs, and access to one of the most dynamic alumni networks in the world
UChicago truly embraces and bolsters its own diversity. You’ll meet people from all walks of life and have an endless opportunity to welcome new experiences.
Nathan M., 2nd year Economics Major -

Life on Campus

The University of Chicago is committed to making college accessible for all students. Below are only a few of the resources that the campus community provides for students from under-represented communities.

  • First-Generation, Low Income, Immigrant (FLI) Network: The FLI Network connects students, faculty, administrators, and alumni who identify as first-generation, low-income, or immigrant (regardless of immigration status), and allies with the goal of creating a community of support. The FLI Network creates opportunities for members to learn from one another. It fosters a sense of belonging, inclusion, and resilience in students in order to help them succeed at the University of Chicago.
  • Chicago Academic Achievement Program (CAAP): CAAP provides early exposure to scholarly and social life at the University of Chicago to a group of academically talented incoming first-year students, many of whom are the first in their family to go to college or from low-income backgrounds. Through an intensive seven-week residential program the summer before their first year, CAAP students engage in Core-level coursework, develop social networks, connect with campus resources, and explore the city of Chicago. During the first year, students continue their personal development through resource workshops, social events, and individual advising with College staff.
  • Center for College Student Success (CCSS): The Center, or CCSS as it is known, serves students in the College and especially aims to support and celebrate those students who are first in their family to attend college, come from under-resourced backgrounds, or who may be undocumented, DACAmented, or have mixed status families. The Center for College Student Success is founded on three pillars: Advising, Resources, and Support.
  • Center for Identity and Inclusion (CII): The Center for Identity + Inclusion creates intentionally diverse and inclusive communities, serving as a bridge builder by engaging students and members of the University community of all backgrounds to ensure personal, academic, and professional growth and success.