University of Chicago Law School alumna Debra Cafaro donated $4 million to a new scholarship fund, which will allow three students each year to attend the school entirely for free. Cafaro, who graduated in 1982, found success as the CEO of Ventas Inc. after practicing law for twelve years.
Cafaro’s donation will establish the Cafaro Scholarships, which will select four low-income students for its first year, to attend University of Chicago Law School for no cost. Each subsequent year, three students will be selected, and the scholarship program has enough funding to send a total of 22 students to law school at no expense. The school is still finalizing admissions and choosing scholarship recipients for the class of 2016. Incoming students cannot apply for the Cafaro scholarship, which will be awarded based on both financial need and merit.
The Chicago Maroon spoke with the Dean of the Law School, Michael Schill, who said, “The scholarship was her idea. She was a first generation college student. She believed the University of Chicago opened doors for her.” Cafaro hopes that, with the scholarship fund, other first-generation and low-income students will have the same opportunity she had.
“As the daughter of first-generation Americans, I remember the hard work and sacrifices my parents made to send me to college and law school,” Cafaro told the National Law Journal. “It was a real stretch for them to give me the opportunities they never had.”
Cafaro said that she was extremely excited to make it possible for students like her to be able to go to a top law school, and expressed a hope that the students who are able to attend because of her donation will contribute to the university’s overall academic and social environment.
The Cafaro Scholarship will be the University Of Chicago Law School’s first need-based full scholarship. The Rubenstein Scholars Program provides 60 full scholarships each year, but is completely merit-based.