Among the tumult of the Georgetown University Student Association executive race over the past two weeks, a recurring theme dominated the discussions of both candidates and students: affordability.
The issue of rising tuition was a fixture of the platforms, presidential debates and opinion pieces published in The Hoya by each of the three main tickets, who all cited affordability as the most pressing issue confronting the university community. Meanwhile, a poll conducted by The Hoya found a 32.3 percent plurality of 535 respondents chose affordability as the most relevant issue of the election, over 10 percent more than the next greatest concern: diversity.
These calls come amid the university becoming a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, a new program launched Wednesday dedicated to expanding the number of low- and middle-income students at top-performing undergraduate institutions. While these efforts are laudable, both the incoming GUSA administration and university should develop programs commendable for middle-income students who bear the brunt of tuition hikes without the added resources available to lower-income families.
In a Jan. 18 study published in The New York Times, Georgetown ranked 12th in a list of 38 schools with more students in the top 1 percent of the income scale than in the bottom 60 percent. The university’s poor ranking in socio-economic inclusivity demonstrates the university’s skew toward upper classes. Amid mounting costs of attendance, middle-income students may find themselves buckling under the financial strain more than their counterparts in other brackets.
For this reason, Georgetown and the incoming GUSA administration have a responsibility to advocate for these students in particular and to provide an outlet for them to talk about the expenses they incur.
This suggestion is not to discredit the strides that Georgetown and GUSA have already made with regard to affordability. The creation of the Georgetown Scholarship Program in 2004, which has already served 1,000 low-income students, is one of Georgetown’s crowning achievements in socio-economic inclusivity. GUSA has also spearheaded efforts to make tuition more transparent by successfully campaigning for the university to host a Hoya Roundtable breaking down past and projected university expenses, revenue and net operating costs.
However, in light of the ATI, GUSA is uniquely positioned to collaborate with the university to explore stronger financial aid and assistance programs that can accommodate Georgetown families of all income levels. GUSA must use this opportunity to expand its reach as a liaison to tap into the university’s extensive resources and match low- and middle-income students with the financial and developmental support they need.
Not only would this involve integrating middle-income students into long-term tuition negotiations, but also creating databases and information networks which detail affordable housing options during the academic year and summer semesters. The price of living, working and interning in the city necessitates that the university guides students on making costs of living more sustainable.
This editorial board proposes that middle-income and low-income students be treated as different groups when it comes to talks on affordability. The two cannot be lumped together as they have diverging Georgetown experiences as students. It is essential that Georgetown and GUSA together impress upon the middle-income bracket of students that their needs and perspectives are equally important within discussions on affordability.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.