Odyssey Scholarship Challenge University of Chicago

 More than 1,200 students from low- and moderate-income families will benefit from the visionary Odyssey Scholarship Program, which replaces student loans with outright grants. Launched by an anonymous donor’s $100 million gift, this program will transform undergraduate financial aid at the University, beginning in Fall 2008.

Students from all backgrounds will enjoy more equal access to Chicago’s uniquely rigorous liberal arts education. The Odyssey Scholarship Program helps fulfill Chicago’s meritocratic promise: everyone can benefit from this transformative education, regardless of one’s origin or destination in life.

To finance their education, students from modest backgrounds often assume considerable debt and work one or more jobs to help pay for educational and living expenses. Students at the University average more than $35,000 in educational loans and interest by the time they graduate from the College. They may also work many hours during the school year to pay for their education. Financial need can make it more difficult for these students to excel in the College’s demanding curriculum. In addition, they often do not have time to pursue the rich resources and life-changing opportunities the College offers outside the classroom. The Odyssey Scholarship Program will dramatically change this financial scenario.

Beginning in Fall 2008, low- and moderate-income students will have their student loans reduced or eliminated altogether. Odyssey Scholarships will replace these loans with additional scholarship funds. By reducing loans, Odyssey Scholarships will also reduce the pressure to work, although most recipients will still have limited work-study obligations of about ten hours per week.