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What Does it Really Cost to Attend The University of Chicago?

According to U.S. News and World Report, the University of Chicago is ranked #3 in the nation, which means it’s a popular choice for high-achieving students. As a private university, and as one of the best schools in the country, you may already be expecting to pay top-dollar.


However, don’t assume that your family will pay exactly the published price to send your student to UChicago. Because of differences in household income and the number of scholarships that a student may receive, the net cost of a college education is highly variable.


We’re going to break down the different factors you’ll want to consider when deciding if a school is affordable for your family, and we’ll look specifically at the costs associated with the University of Chicago. You may find that sending your student to their dream school is more accessible than you first thought!


Want to learn what University of Chicago will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering University of Chicago needs to know.


The University of Chicago’s List Price


The cost of attendance is the approximate total price of going to a school for one year. We call it the list price, and it includes costs such as tuition, fees, room and board, and other miscellaneous costs of living. Some of these components are standard, such as tuition and fees, whereas others are more variable, such as living costs. This means that even the list price varies slightly from student to student, although these numbers are a good place to start when determining your net cost.


For the 2016-2017 year, the estimated cost of attendance at the University of Chicago was $72,717. Since UChicago is a private school, this price remains the same for both in-state and out-of-state students.


Most families won’t pay the full list price because they will qualify for some amount of need-based aid. However, families with household incomes over $175,000 a year are more likely to pay the full list price. If your student is in the top 30% of applicants to that university, their net cost may be reduced due to merit aid, however.


What is the Cost of UChicago with Financial Aid?


Hopefully you feel some relief knowing that it’s not likely that you’ll be paying the full list price. So what can you expect to pay once you factor in financial aid? Based on the 2016-2017 data, the average net cost for students with financial aid, either in-state or out-of-state, was $60,640.

Cost of UChicago Based on Household Income


Your particular net cost is highly dependent on your household income, which will qualify your student for more or less financial aid. These are the average net prices for a student based on household income:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $2,551
$30,001-$48,000 $2,665
$48,001-$75,000 $4,536
$75,001-$110,000 $23,674
Over $110,000 $37,066

What is the Merit Aid Net Price at UChicago?


Merit aid is a financial award granted to students for significant accomplishments, whether in or out of the classroom. According to the University of Chicago’s website, there are a few merit scholarships available for exemplary students. Some scholarships are awarded for all four years or for specific summer opportunities like internships and research. The awards range anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. Not that first-generation college students are automatically granted a $20,000 scholarship over their four years at UChicago.


The likelihood of your student receiving one of these scholarships is largely dependent on their profile. If they have a GPA and test score in the top 30% of applicants, there’s a higher chance that they will qualify for a scholarship. However, extracurriculars do matter in these considerations, so you may want to encourage your student to pursue excellence in their favorite activity by taking on a leadership role or participating in competitions.

Loans and Debt at UChicago


It should come as no surprise that even with need-based aid covering a decent amount of the list price, many students at the University of Chicago take out a loan at some point. At UChicago, 51% of students had a loan. The average size of the federal loan per undergraduate was $2,000 total across all four years.

Student Outcomes at UChicago


Given the financial investment that you would be making if your student chooses to attend the University of Chicago, you may want to know whether most students graduate and how much they expect to earn after graduation. Luckily, 93% of students at UChicago graduate within 6 years, and graduates often earn a higher salary in the long term. After ten years, the average UChicago graduate earns around $68,100 a year.


Local Cost of Living Considerations


Although the cost of attendance often includes room and board, it’s helpful to look at local living costs, in case your student lives off-campus or wants to cook for themselves. Chicago’s cost of living index is 117.8, meaning that it’s about 17.8% higher than the national average. Most of high expenses have to do with housing, while factors like groceries and utilities are slightly below the national average.


What about living off-campus? UChicago requires that all freshmen and sophomores live on-campus, but after their second year, students can choose to live off-campus. These are the average apartment rent prices in Chicago:


  • 1 bedroom: $1,137
  • 2 bedroom: $1,320
  • 3 bedroom: $1,681


It can sometimes be more affordable to live off-campus than to stay on-campus, especially if students split the cost of an apartment with friends. For example, the cost of living on-campus is around $10,014 a year, whereas if a student lives with a friend in a 2-bedroom apartment it would cost around $7,920 per student (even less if they can get a shorter contract). That’s nearly three thousand dollars saved!

Other Ways to Save


Even if your income is close to the $175,000 mark (and you’re mentally preparing yourself to pay the list price at any institution your teen chooses to attend) there are a couple of ways that your student can help you reduce your net cost:


Working. Many students work part-time while in college to cover living costs like groceries, transportation, and even laundry. If your student is considering a part-time job in Chicago, the hourly minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25, according to the Economic Policy Institute, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage in Chicago across all occupations is $26.57. A part-time job can help cover some of your student’s costs and reduce your family’s net cost.


Private scholarships. When we say private scholarships, we mean any scholarship administered through an organization that isn’t a government agency or the school itself. Many of these scholarships reward students for their academic or extracurricular accomplishments instead of focusing on your student’s need. Your employer may even have scholarships reserved specifically for the children of employees.


If your student is entering their junior year in the fall, then you may want to encourage them to take the PSAT this year, if they aren’t already scheduled to take it at their school. This is because a high PSAT score can help students qualify for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship; in addition to the award given to Merit Scholars, many colleges and corporations give awards to finalists and semifinalists.

Wrapping it Up


Navigating college finances can be stressful for parents and students, especially if they’re sure what they may qualify for. That’s where CollegeVine can help; as part of our College Applications Program, our Finances tool shows students the ROI of different schools and majors and help students identify scholarships to apply for. On average, our students earn about $83,000 in scholarships, which helps make their academic dreams a reality. Find out if working with our Financial Aid Tools is right for your family!


For more information about the University of Chicago and financial aid, check out these posts:


What is the University of Chicago’s Acceptance Rate & Admissions Requirements?

Parents: 12 Must-Know College Financial Aid Terms

FAFSA, CSS Profile, IDOC, Oh My: A Guide to Financial Aid


Curious about your chances of acceptance to UChicago? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.