Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Lab have a fundraising program?

Fundraising at Lab closes a budget gap in annual operations, and funds around 50% of Lab’s financial aid budget. In addition, it allows Lab to meet aspirational goals that would otherwise be impossible to reach.

Generous support from parents, alumni, faculty, and staff allows Lab to offer a first rank educational program without having to rely solely on tuition increases. Furthermore, by connecting passionate philanthropists to programs and projects, fundraising also allows Lab to realize programs that further our vision and mission, and often go above and beyond in creative and meaningful ways.

Without this additional income, Lab would be forced to make difficult choices between tuition levels, financial aid budgets, and programmatic activities.

How is Lab funded?

Lab's annual budget is funded by the following sources:

How Lab is funded

What is the scope of Lab's fundraising program?

Scope of Lab's fundraising campaign

Volunteers: Lab’s Alumni Relations and Development Office works with 100+ alumni and parent volunteers to facilitate all major fundraising efforts for the school.

Families & Alumni: During the 2017–18 school year 925 (66%) families and 905 (13%) alumni  made a gift to the Schools. Lab’s participation goals for 2018–19 are:

  • Parent participation: 70%
  • Alumni participation: 14%

Gift Diversity: Our philanthropy program is comprised of several key elements: 

  • Major gifts
  • Annual fund
  • Bequests and planned giving
  • Connections and Dewey Dance fundraiser events
  • Class gifts

Campaigns: In 2014, Lab completed the $82 million Lab+ Campaign which enhanced every aspect of Lab including a $192 million campus expansion and renovation that included the building of Earl Shapiro Hall and Gordon Parks Arts Hall. Going forward Lab will be integrated into the major UChicago fundraising campaign cycles. The current UChicago campaign, Impact & Inquiry, ends in 2019.


How is Lab's budget determined and who decides?

As a unit of the University of Chicago, Lab participates in both annual and multi-year University budgeting processes. With the guidance of Lab’s Board, and under the director’s leadership, Lab’s finance team works with the principals, department chairs, and other administrators to determine staffing and capital needs and operating budgets. These programmatic costs, along with enrollment forecasts, the growth of net tuition, fundraising, and other revenues are incorporated into a multi-year budgeting model that guides Lab’s annual budget choices.

What is the largest portion of Lab's budget?

Teacher and assistant teacher compensation accounts for 50% of Lab’s expense budget. Salaries, and what have generally been >4% annual increases, are set and remain in place as part of the teachers’ union negotiations held every several years. 

What are the goals of Lab's financial aid program?

Our financial aid program serves to bolster Lab's commitment to diversity in all its forms by diversifying the varied socioeconomic backgrounds that make up our community. In short, our financial aid program seeks to remove financial barriers for students who contribute to and benefit from a Lab education.

How does Lab's financial aid program work?

All of Lab’s awards are based on demonstrated financial need. Lab does not give merit-based aid. Approximately 10% of families receive aid—separate from any tuition benefit a family might receive as a full time employee of the University. On average, Lab meets 100 percent of students’ demonstrated need. Aid monies are distributed through two paths:

  1. A scholarship is a formally designated award, usually funded by endowment payout or private gifts, and assigned to a particular student for his or her entire High School career.
  2. Financial aid awards subsidize family tuition obligations and are awarded for tuition at any grade level Securing financial aid support is a fundraising priority for Lab and a core part of all our development efforts.

How much financial aid does Lab provide annually?

Lab will award approximately $3.4 million in need-based financial aid in 2018–19 (not including University remission.) For 2018–19, the average aid grant is $15,162, and the median aid grant is $12,404. The total reflects a 20 percent increase in aid over last year. Still, continued increases in Lab’s aid budget, mainly achieved through philanthropy, are critical to Lab’s aspirations around economic diversity and full access to all educational experiences at Lab.

What would a substantially larger endowment do for Lab?

Endowment income has historically been a stabilizing force in the operation of education institutions. Endowment income is less variable relative to other revenue streams and is available in perpetuity. By increasing the endowment, Lab could more reliably address ongoing programs, increase its ability to provide financial aid, and further reduce its dependence on tuition increases.

The tuition benefit for University of Chicago employees

The University’s Lab Tuition Remission Program is for full-time employees of the University (and associated units). At minimum this program pays 50 percent of Lab tuition. That amount increases up to 85 percent based on a sliding household income scale. Importantly, non-university families in no way subsidize this benefit and the Schools do not lose any tuition income. The University makes a direct transfer of funds into Lab’s accounts to cover this benefit. That transfer translates to about 25 percent of Lab’s budget.