Georgetown’s undergraduate admissions yield has fallen by 2 percent for the second consecutive year, [possibly because of the state of the U.S. economy]( The university will seek to prevent future drops in yields with a new financial initiative.

Admissions yield refers to the percentage of students who enroll at a school they were admitted to. Over the past decade, Georgetown’s yield has remained approximately 47 percent; for the class of 2012, however, it fell to 45 percent, and for the class of 2013, it fell yet again to 43 percent, according to Charles Deacon, dean of undergraduate admissions.

Deacon said he believes these past two years have had different but related reasons for the drop in admissions yield.

“Both are really financial,” Deacon said. “Starting two years ago . a lot of our major competitors launched major financial aid programs. Georgetown didn’t have the financial base to [match] those kinds of programs. So the ramping up of programs among a lot of our key competitors, we believe, with evidence from surveys, did impact the yield.”

Deacon blamed this year’s drop on the economic recession that began in 2008. “This year it was exaggerated by the financial crisis, which just not only hurt the yield of people who were requesting aid but even those not requesting aid,” he said.

The Undergraduate Admissions Office survey, which is taken every year, shows that the top two reasons for students declining to enroll are financial aid offers and the cost of attendance, according to Melissa Foy, director of the Georgetown Scholarship Program.

According to Clearinghouse and the Office of Admission, Georgetown’s top 10 competitors, including Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Princeton University, Duke University, Brown University, Dartmouth University, the University of Virginia, Stanford University and Cornell University, announced new financial aid initiatives in the last two years, in addition to eliminating or reducing loans.

In an effort to become more competitive among top-tier colleges and universities, Georgetown initiated the [Georgetown Scholarship Program]( in July of 2004 and is currently starting a new program, the 1789 Imperative, Deacon said.

The Georgetown Scholarship Program, according to its mission statement, aims to acquire consistent yearly revenue, which is then used to decrease loans and increase overall financial aid endowment for prospective Georgetown students.

Currently, 310 students have already received GSP scholarships; 45 graduated last May, according to Foy. This year, acceptance yield rates for GSP scholars was 59 percent, and the average loan debt for participating students after graduation will be three times less than students on regular financial aid, Foy said.

“[The] average indebtedness for a Georgetown student receiving financial aid is $18,000. For a GSP student, the average indebtedness is only $6,000,” Foy said. “So while GSP can’t completely eliminate loan amounts for GSP scholars, we can reduce loans and allow our recipients to seriously consider Georgetown.”

GSP uses class chairs, who reach out to the alumni community for donations.

“One feature of GSP is that each class has a chair and committee, and the idea is that there is an opportunity for leaders in classes to reach out to classmates,” Deacon said. “[It is] more of a networking activity where more alumni are going to have a conversation with Georgetown through a classmate about making a gift. [We are] trying to elevate the level of concern. So it’ll be an ongoing effort.”

The chairs are annual donors and recruiters, according to the GSP Web site.

University spokesperson Julie Bataille said that the 1789 Scholarship Imperative will expand on the Georgetown Scholarship Program to make Georgetown a more affordable and accessible university for students.

University President John J. DeGioia announced the initiative at the Swedish Embassy on Sept. 25 when he spoke about three imperatives that now guide Georgetown, including the necessity of strengthening the financial resources that support the university.

“I am pleased to announce . an ambitious new effort to support access and affordability at Georgetown through an initiative we’re calling the 1789 Scholarship Imperative,” DeGioia said. “It is the cornerstone of a larger capital campaign which we will launch next September after what will then have been four years in a quiet or pre-public phase. The first three years of the quiet phase have been very successful. The new campaign will emphasize financial aid, faculty excellence, a handful of high priority capital improvement projects and a number of other major new strategic initiatives. We’ll be working hard on all of these over the next five years of the campaign, but we’re starting by emphasizing financial aid.”

He added that he hopes to raise $500 million over the next five years to fund scholarships.

“The goal is ambitious, but the need is significant and the promise is vast. The 1789 Scholarship Imperative will permit Georgetown to meet as much as 50 percent of the cost of our financial aid program through philanthropy,” DeGioia said. “That will put us in much better standing relative to our peer institutions, and it will sustain the university’s commitment to access and affordability for undergraduates.”

Although yield rates have dropped, the size of the applicant pool has not changed significantly over the past two years, Deacon said. It has remained at approximately 18,650 applications, a record high.

The number of early applicants for the class of 2014 is similar to past years, Deacon said. The financial stress of accepting, however, is what will ultimately affect the overall yield.

“Two years ago yield for students not needing financial aid was 52 percent,” Deacon said. “The yield for students who did . was 39 percent. So you can see the pressure that kids who are from less affluent families face in having to make the choice.”

The University of Notre Dame has also faced a decrease in yield this year, according to Daniel Saracino, the university’s assistant provost and director of admissions. Notre Dame’s yield rate dropped from 54 percent in 2008 to 50 percent in 2009.

Although Notre Dame has suffered a yield drop, Saracino said the administration is not looking to change financial aid programs as a result.

“We do not plan on doing anything dramatically different this year to possibly reverse the trend,” Saracino said. “The economy clearly is impacting students’ choices and we remain committed to being `need blind’ in the admissions process and equally committed to meeting the `full demonstrated need’ of every admitted student.”

Villanova did not experience a drop in yield, according to its Office of Admission; nor did Cornell University, according to Samantha Miller, executive staff assistant for admissions and enrollment. Rather, Cornell experienced a yield increase in 2009. The George Washington University also experienced a 2 percent increase for the class of 2013, according to Kathryn Napper, the executive dean for undergraduate admissions.

Deacon said that yield rates can be deceiving, however, due to the different application types – specifically early action and early decision. Schools that utilize early decision will have higher yield rates, Deacon said, because their entire early applicant pool must accept admission. Schools using early action, however, will lose early action applicants in the spring to other schools, resulting in lower yield numbers.

Deacon said that although Georgetown was not one of the initial universities to commence an aggressive scholarship and financial aid program, it will now be financially competitive with the new 1789 Imperative.

“We don’t want to see the [yield percent] line keep going [down],” Deacon said. “So hopefully [the 1789 Imperative] will kick in quickly and help us give more competitive financial aid packages even in this year.”

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