At the University of Chicago, we believe that all students should have access to higher education opportunities no matter their geographic location or ability to pay. UChicago knows that students from rural and small-town contexts bring valuable experiences and viewpoints to a college community, from understanding the strengths and challenges of living in isolated areas to bringing a different understanding of complex political and social issues to the classroom. However, students from rural and small-town communities are often faced with unique social, economic, and cultural barriers to college admissions because of their geographic isolation.
The UChicago Empower access initiative is designed to address the challenges faced by first-generation, low-income, and rural and small-town students. Thanks to a generous donation from the Trott Family Foundation, UChicago created the Emerging Rural Leaders Program in 2018 to reduce the barriers to college that rural students and families face by offering college admissions programming on-campus and in local communities, providing mentoring and support systems for high school students, and updating financial aid policies and scholarships to enable more rural students to pursue higher education at UChicago.
A free one-week enrichment program for top rural high school freshmen (rising sophomores) to experience college life, take a course on leadership taught by faculty in the College and the Booth School of Business, and receive guidance on navigating high school and preparing for college. All costs, including travel costs, are covered by the program.
A free one-week enrichment program for top rural high school juniors (rising seniors) that introduces students to academic and social life at a highly selective liberal arts college. All costs, including travel costs, are covered by the program.
Spring Rural Group Travel
Together with our Coalition college partners, UChicago participates in four-day trips to rural towns in several regions across the nation. The trips include college application and financial aid information sessions for students and parents as well as professional development sessions for high school counselors.
Fall UChicago Information Sessions
All UChicago admissions counselors are implementing new strategies to include extra fall travel days devoted to visits at rural high schools and information sessions in rural school districts.
Emerging Rural Leaders Counselor Symposium
A fully funded counselor fly-in for high school counselors, college advisers, and community-based organizations from rural and small-town communities. The fly-in offers professional development workshops and networking opportunities for attendees.
A fully-funded fly-in for principals and superintendents from rural schools and school districts. This is a unique fly-in opportunity that targets rural administrators who can often have a much more “hands-on” role in their students’ college search and application processes in small schools and small school districts.
As part of our commitment to making college accessible, the University of Chicago guarantees free tuition, fees and room and meals for students from families with incomes under $60,000 and free tuition and fees for families with incomes under $125,000. In addition, the family farm is not considered an asset for financial aid purposes.
In addition to our comprehensive need-based financial aid, a select number of rural and small-town students who are admitted to the University of Chicago are eligible for merit scholarships of $5,000 a year, for four years. Admitted rural and small-town students will also receive guaranteed, paid (minimum $5,000) summer internships.