You go, Chicago

The University of Chicago’s plan to increase the economic diversity of its undergraduate population helps establish equal opportunities for students of all economic backgrounds.

The plan eliminates loans, guarantees paid summer internships, forgoes application fees and provides additional support for students who require financial assistance.

Chicago’s tuition rate for the 2014-15 school year is $64,253. That’s an annual price tag that can easily drive low-income students into a decade of debt, and dissuade many from even applying.

This plan provides Chicago with the opportunity to house incredibly talented individuals that might have otherwise chosen universities of a lower standing due to financial constraints.

The plan’s focus on providing grants rather than loans is a favourable trade-off that’ll help alleviate the dark cloud of stress that loans create.

Most financial aid programs require students in financial need to hold a job while they attend school. By dismissing this requirement, low-income students at Chicago will be able to dedicate more of their energy towards their education.

This plan has greater implications for the city of Chicago, which is known for its segregated communities. While the University of Chicago’s old model perpetuated disparities in wealth, this new plan has the opportunity to address them.

But the economic disparity present at the University of Chicago can’t simply be addressed at the post-secondary level. It’s a result of years of disadvantage that students experience from kindergarten onwards. Similar initiatives to the Chicago plan need to be carried out at the beginning of the education system.

Whether a no-loan policy should or can be implemented in Canadian schools is questionable. Although tuition issues are present in Canada, they don’t compare to those in the United States. Most Canadian universities also don’t have the same level of funding, and often can’t afford to implement such measures.

Journal Editorial Board

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