A trending WhatsApp post claims that the University of Chicago is offering fully funded scholarships for the 2022/2023 academic session to interested undergraduates, Masters and PhD students who want to study in the United States.
According to the post which provided an application link, eligibility requires that the prospective students are either applying to study in the undergraduates, Masters or PhD categories, should be between the ages of 14 and 40 and should be able to read ad write.
It listed full tuition fees, medical allowance, COVID-19, instant visa approval, permission to work and study, and hostel accommodation as benefits of the programme.
In an attempt to know the veracity or otherwise of the viral scholarship application, our correspondent clicked on the link provided in the post. The link opened to a page that has the caption, “Study in United States (US)” against a red background. It also had “Chicago University Scholarship 2022-2023” against a blue background.
The page went further to say “NO ILETS is Required, No Agent fee, Travelling Allowance is Guaranteed, Hostel Accommodation, Work and Study Permit, No Application Fee.
“Study in UNITED STATE (sic) With Course of Your Choice For Free through-out The years program. The CHICAGO UNIVERSITY Scholarship Program Enables International Students to Study in United State (sic) Comfortably and Free. Applicants are to fill the form below and click on Apply.”
When our reporter filled the form with his personal details, including email, phone number, course of study, password, etc, and clicked on “Apply”, it took him to another page that said, “Congratulations. Your application for the on going University of Chicago scholarship has been received. To proceed to the next page, answer the following three questions to acquire your immediately! (sic).”
The questions asked were; What is Your Employment Status? What is your marital status? and Choose age range?
By clicking on “Next”, the page opened further to a long write up revealing that this reporter had been approved to study in the University of Chicago in the United States for free, after checking his application.
It however gave a condition to fill the scholarship visa form requesting a click on an “Invite Friends/Group” button to share the information with either 15 friends or 5 groups on WhatsApp.
Our correspondent, on sharing the information as instructed, to 5 WhatsApp groups was shocked to discover that the bar had only moved to 30%. As a result he was not allowed to access the visa application page but was prompted to invite more people or groups. This immediately raised another red flag, in addition to many grammatical errors noticed during the application process.
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Its main campus is located in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The institution is constantly ranked among the best universities in the world.
To qualify for a scholarship, a message on the website of the university states that “International students should apply for financial aid at the time they apply to UChicago for admission.
“We are committed to meeting 100% of your demonstrated need with a loan-free financial aid award if you are admitted and applied for funding. Our financial aid awards are based on an estimate of the full costs of enrolling at the University of Chicago, including tuition, housing, health insurance, a meal plan, and estimates for additional costs like books and personal expenses.
“International students are eligible for financial aid only if they apply for funding during the admissions process, and will not be eligible for financial aid after receiving their admissions decision or during their four years in the College.”
The documents required from prospective students are also listed to include The International Financial Aid Worksheet (to be filled out and submitted online, through a student’s UChicago Account) and supporting documentation (You will be asked to upload additional documentation that verifies your family’s income and asset information — tax forms, a statement from an employer, a bank statement, or another form of documentation.)
Other items are, Application for Admission and Supplement Essays, Application Fee or Automatic Fee Waiver, Secondary School Report and Transcript, two teacher evaluations, College Report and Transcript (transfer students only); English Language Proficiency Test Scores (international applicants only); and Midyear Report (first-year applicants only).
These negate the requirements contained in the viral post.
While it is true that the University of Chicago offers scholarships in form of financial aid, it is instructive to note that the application link contained in the viral WhatsApp post is suspect as it leads to a phishing site.
This fact check was produced in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)