Despite Georgetown University’s relatively low endowment, the Georgetown Board of Directors announced its approval of the university’s largest-ever increase in financial aid for students in the coming academic year Feb. 16.
Georgetown will invest over $177 million next year in financial aid, a record increase of eight percent from this year’s investment of $166.6 million. The increase corresponds with a rise in the cost of tuition for the university, which will grow four percent from $48,048 to $49,968 for the 2016 to 2017 academic year.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon highlighted the increase — the largest-ever annual increase in financial aid — as an indication of Georgetown’s commitment to supporting its students.
“As a need-blind, meet-full-need institution, the projected financial aid costs will rise on a annual basis so long as costs increase,” Deacon said. “There will be an annual increase in financial aid to meet these costs for those receiving financial aid.”
Dean of Student Financial Services Patricia McWade stressed that financial aid increases have become a regular feature of Georgetown’s budgetary process in recent years.
“The increase came as no surprise to me,” McWade said. “I’ve been here 25 years and the board has always approved the adequate amount of resources to meet the needs of our undergraduates.”
McWade explained that the additional eight percent, besides being allocated toward undergraduate financial aid, will also benefit other members of the university community.
“The eight percent number includes money for graduate students and professional students as well. It is a university-wide number,” McWade said. “We will have adequate funding to cover the needs of our undergrad students.”
Georgetown Scholarship Program Director Missy Foy noted that as the cost of attending university has increased, the number of students who can afford to cover tuition without assistance has evidently decreased. As a result, in order to provide equal opportunities to all who apply, Georgetown’s significant supplement to financial aid is a necessity.
“Only about three percent of Americans can afford a Georgetown education without a scholarship,” Foy said. “Unless we limit ourselves, you dilute the quality of the student body and the diversity of opinions.”
Foy stressed the importance of increasing the university’s financial aid in order to remain competitive with peer institutions. In order to attract the best students, Georgetown must be willing to spend large amounts on financial aid packages.
“The university has been meeting the full financial need of admitted students for over 30 years and that’s been central to getting us to the place where we want to be as a competitive institution,” Foy said. “On a competitive basis, it’s really important.”
According to McWade, if Georgetown seeks to continue living up to its Jesuit values, it will need to increase financial aid in accordance with changing education costs. She noted that providing comprehensive and need-blind aid remains an integral part of the Georgetown admissions process.
“It’s a wonderful thing that the board of directors and president have agreed to commit,” McWade said. “It means that it’s a high priority for this Jesuit, Catholic university because it allows us to have the socioeconomic diversity that everyone benefits from.”
Foy praised the willingness of the board to continuously allot a large amount of funding from its budget for financial aid. Other institutions are able to completely fund their financial aid through endowment money but because of Georgetown’s relatively low endowment, it must find other sources for financial aid. As of June 2014, Georgetown’s endowment was $1.4 billion, compared to Harvard University’s $35.9 billion.
Foy praised Georgetown’s commitment to maintaining its financial support of students despite its small endowment.
“We’re competing against schools like Harvard, who has an endowment that’s much greater than the size of ours,” Foy said. “With a very modest endowment, I think it’s impressive that Georgetown has prioritized this.”
Foy encouraged students to donate to the university after they graduate, emphasizing that doing so will enable future generations of students to continue to attend Georgetown.
“We don’t have the endowment to fund aid, so I hope that students reading this article understand that this is all the more reason to donate after you graduate,” Foy said. “If you like half the people sitting around you in any given class, you should donate to the Georgetown fund.”
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.