UChicago Poised to Become Most Expensive College Education in the U.S.

UChicago is the country’s first undergraduate institution to break an $80,000 cost of attendance.


Harper Memorial Library

By Emma Dyer, Co-Editor-in-Chief ('20-'21)

The University of Chicago will offer the country’s most expensive undergraduate education after tuition and housing cost increases for the 2019–2020 academic year, according to currently released data from UChicago and peer institutions. 

UChicago’s self-reported total cost of attendance estimates jumped to over $80,000 for students in on-campus housing, a $2,946 increase from last school year. This makes the College the first institution in the U.S. to have an estimated total annual cost greater than $80,000.

Base tuition increased from $55,425 in the last school year to $57,642 for the coming year—a 4 percent increase.

The price of student housing and unlimited meal plan increased by $654 annually, which is also a 4 percent increase from the previous school year. The incoming Class of 2023 will be the first class at UChicago required to live in on-campus housing for at least two years. First-year students are required to purchase an unlimited meal plan. After the first year, students may opt for a meal plan with fewer meals, and students living off-campus can choose to leave the meal plan entirely.

When asked about the College’s decision to raise tuition and housing costs, University spokesperson Jeremy Manier said, “The University of Chicago is committed to ensuring that all undergraduate students who are admitted to the College are able to participate fully regardless of financial circumstances.”

Manier also noted that the University “guarantees free tuition for families with incomes under $125,000,” and the “average loan indebtedness across all graduating students is under $7,000.” Beginning with the Class of 2023, the University also guarantees “families earning less than $60,000 (with typical assets) have full tuition, fees, room and board covered by financial aid.”

The graphs below show several of UChicago’s peer institutions’ 2019–2020 self-reported cost of base tuition as well as the annual total cost estimate. Out of the selected schools, Brown has the highest base tuition, with a lower total annual cost estimate than UChicago. Harvard has the lowest base tuition of the schools, but is only second to UChicago in the total annual cost estimate and has the highest cost of housing and additional expenses.