Provost Ka Yee Lee Expands on Spring Quarter Financial Aid Policy in Email to Campus

Changes ranged from expanding aid available to students via the Financial Aid Office’s Special Circumstances Request Form to eliminating late fees on spring-quarter tuition.

By Avi Waldman

In an email to the campus community Tuesday morning, Provost Ka Yee Lee detailed aspects of the University’s financial aid policy in response to COVID-19 including permitting students to apply for an extension on their spring-quarter tuition deadline. While the email did not refer to UChicago for Fair Tuition (UCFT), the student group advocating for a tuition strike, the message responds to several issues UCFT has raised. 

Lee wrote that the University “has expanded its extensive and longstanding commitment to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all domestic undergraduate students,” who will be able to apply for increased aid through the Financial Aid Office’s Special Circumstances Request form.  Graduate students will be able to apply for the forms of financial aid already administered through their graduate divisions or schools, which use a range of different funding models.  

Lee’s email also refers to the emergency assistance fund maintained by the bursar’s office, which can offer aid for expenses not related to tuition. The fund offers up to a $3,000 one-time grant and loans of up to $1,500 that must be repaid within 60 days.  

The email noted that the bursar’s office had added a Financial Hardship form in response to COVID-19, which students can use to apply for an extension on their tuition payment. UCFT had reported on April 13 that there would be no fees for late payment, based on an email exchange between a UCFT member and a student account advisor in the Bursar’s Office who wrote, “At this time, Late Fees are not being [assessed].” Lee’s email clarified that the policy on late payment remains the same as it was in previous quarters, with students subject to late fees penalized by holds on their pre-registration or graduation.  

“We consider this a strike retaliation and a direct response to our campaign publicizing their initial internal commitment to no late fees,” wrote fourth-year UCFT organizer Julia Attie in a statement to The Maroon