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UChicago Freezes Tuition For Undergrads, School of Social Service Administration

Organizers with UChicago for Fair Tuition claim a victory after calling for a tuition freeze a few weeks ago, but a tuition strike is still on the table unless the university negotiates with students on the group's four other demands.

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HYDE PARK — The total cost of tuition, housing and other fees for University of Chicago undergraduates will not increase for the 2020-2021 school year.

The tuition freeze will apply to The College, which is UChicago’s undergraduate program. A detailed breakdown of next year’s charges will be released in the coming weeks, according to a letter from Provost Ka Yee Lee and Dean of The College John Boyer.

The School of Social Service Administration, a master’s level program at the university, will also keep tuition rates the same for next year, Dean Deborah Gorman-Smith confirmed to Block Club.

In their letter, Lee and Boyer did not address whether a freeze will apply to any other programs at the university.

“We recognize the economic pressure currently felt by many College students and families,” the letter reads. “The University will continue to do what it can to support its community during this unprecedented time.”

Students with UChicago for Fair Tuition can claim victory on one of the five demands they’ve made of the university in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The others are:

  • Reduce tuition by half and waive fees through the pandemic.
  • Waive advanced residency tuition for doctoral students.
  • Release a breakdown of university spending.
  • Reinstate part-time status for all students, which the university eliminated in 2015.

Students will continue to receive “a rigorous, transformative education” with the university’s shift to remote learning, so tuition will remain the same, university spokesperson Gerald McSwiggan said earlier this month.

“Classes taken during the Spring Quarter will count fully toward completion of all degree programs, and as such they will continue to have regular tuition rates,” McSwiggan said.

As of Wednesday evening, 407 students who signed the group’s petition said they would withhold tuition payments if the university refuses to negotiate on the demands by April 29. That’s when tuition for the spring quarter is due.

Another 561 requested more information before committing, and 472 said they would not participate in a tuition strike.

UChicago for Fair Tuition will only call off the strike if students are able to negotiate their demands and come to an agreement, but the tuition freeze is a “really good step,” organizer Anna Attie said.

Organizers encouraged students to call and email university officials about the list of demands, but the university did not meet with students, Attie said.

“We definitely think this campaign has significantly informed the university’s decision,” she said. “In general, we’re really excited about this tuition freeze.”