Georgetown ranked 12th out of a list of 38 schools with more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the bottom 60 percent, according to a New York Times study based on anonymous tax records published Jan. 18.
The median income for a parent of Georgetown’s class of 2013 was $229,100, the 8th highest of the 2,395 colleges surveyed. Twenty-one percent of Georgetown’s approximately 6,700 undergraduates are from the top 1 percent, which is among the highest amounts for the 10 schools in the Big East Conference.
The rankings are based on incomes calculated using records of 30 million students who graduated between 2002 and 2013 from more than 2,000 American colleges.
According to The New York Times, students whose families make $630,000 or more per year are considered part of the 1 percent. Students whose families make less than $65,000 annually are classified as part of the bottom 60 percent, which accounts for 13.5 percent of undergraduate students.
While the data in The New York Times study spans students born between 1980 and 1991, the amount of students from the bottom 60 percent and top 1 percent remained consistent for every year.
Seventy-four percent of Georgetown’s undergraduate student body come from the top 20th percentile, with the average Georgetown student in the 85th income percentile.
After graduation, 1.9 percent of graduates between 2002 and 2013 moved from the bottom to top income quintile and 11 percent of students moved up at least two income quintiles.
While 3.1 percent of Georgetown students are from the bottom 20 percent, a student from the bottom fifth of incomes has a 61 percent chance of moving up to the top 20 percent of incomes after graduation, according to the study.
Sixty-nine percent of Georgetown alumni end up in the top 20 percent after graduation. Specifically, the median individual income for Georgetown alumni by the time they are 34 years old is $84,400.
Compared to other schools in Washington, D.C., Georgetown has among the lowest amount of students who end up in bottom 20 percent after graduation, with only 8 percent of its undergraduates falling in that income bracket.
In The New York Times’ mobility index, which incorporates both access and outcomes to illustrate the likelihood of a student moving up two or more income quintiles, Georgetown is ranked 1985th out of 2137 colleges. However, mobility at Georgetown is on par with or better than other elite schools. Princeton is ranked 2096th, while Duke is 2014th.
While acknowledging that Georgetown is a wealthy school, Georgetown Scholarship Program Director Missy Foy said that the university’s efforts are commendable given the size of its endowment compared with other schools it competes with for applicants.
“We certainly are very wealthy. You have a lot of students coming in from that top 1 percent, perhaps more so than peer institutions, but other than that we are not out of line from our peer schools, and we have a fraction of the endowment,” Foy said. “Even schools that have a huge endowment are strugglingto get students from the bottom fifth to apply and enroll.”
Foy said she believes the main issue causing Georgetown’s lack of socioeconomic diversity is a lack of sufficient scholarship funds.
“Where we are truly struggling is in terms of money,” Foy said. “I would like to see more donations to current use or the endowment so we can enhance our scholarship packages and bring in a more diverse population.”
According to Foy, the percentage of students on financial aid is a more detailed indication of a school’s socioeconomic landscape than the income percentiles and quintiles used by The New York Times.
“From what we’re seeing, 10 percent of students can identify with a low-income experience. Forty-five percent of Georgetown students are receiving some form of financial aid,” Foy said. “Financial aid is a bit more nuanced than income quintile.”
Foy said donations to the university’s endowment are crucial to maintaining and then increasing the amount of scholarships Georgetown can provide, which decreases the financial burden on low-income students and increases their odds of attending.
“I commend President DeGioia to stay firm on our commitment to meet full financial need that costs the university $100 million a year. I consider that an investment, not a cost,” Foy said. “But every year you better believe the board of directors has to look at that budget item and say is this something we can keep on doing. Every year the university has to find out where are we going to come up with that money.”
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.