Administrators Dispute College Scorecard's Ranking on GU Financial Aid
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 22:03
While Georgetown officials say that President Obama’s College Scorecard system, announced in his Feb. 12 State of the Union speech, is a commendable effort to help parents and high school students make informed financial comparisons of colleges nationwide, the system fails to take into account intricacies of Georgetown’s financial aid structure.
The scorecard initiative, the result of a cooperative effort between the White House and the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center, evaluates each institution on the basis of cost, graduation rate, loan default rate, median borrowing and post-graduation employment. The results for each institution are then compared to a national average.
Georgetown’s “average net price,” which is what undergraduate students pay after grants and scholarships are subtracted from the institution’s cost of attendance, is listed as $26,521 per year, which is considered “high.” However, the loan default rate of 1.3 percent is below the average of 13.4 percent, and the median borrowing rate of $212.90 per month is in the “medium” range. Georgetown’s six-year graduation rate is “high” at 93.8 percent.
According to Georgetown’s Office of Student Financial Services, the average total student loan debt for Georgetown’s Class of 2011 was about $12,000, which Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming (SFS ’72) said is well below average national debt.
But according to Fleming, these numbers do not tell the whole story.
“Every financial aid package offered to a prospective Georgetown student reflects our commitment to meeting full need and differs based on the financial situation of the individual applicant,” Fleming wrote. “Therefore, the average net cost figure on the Scorecard might unintentionally result in discouraging some potential students from applying when they might receive significantly more aid than the Scorecard might suggest and thus have a very low net cost.”
Fleming stressed that Georgetown’s unique efforts to meet full need and to individuate financial aid packages will continue regardless of their poor representation on the Scorecard.
“The university has a long-standing commitment to its financial aid policy of meeting full need, and the university works very hard to hold down debt incurred by our undergraduates,” Fleming wrote. “Those are policies that we are very proud of and on which we continue to work, and I would not want to see the Scorecard undermine that.”
The Department of Education has not yet collected data on graduate employment but hopes to eventually incorporate that data into the system.
According to the Cawley Career Center’s Senior Survey Report for the Class of 2011, 66 percent of graduates are employed full-time. An additional 20 percent are enrolled in graduate or professional school.
While the Scorecard’s assessments are based on the university as a whole, the Career Center’s employment numbers also conduct a breakdown based on school: 52 percent of College graduates, 69 percent of School of Foreign Service graduates, 90 percent of McDonough School of Business graduates and 74 percent of School of Nursing and Health Studies graduates were employed full-time, with average starting salaries of $48,911, $50,267, $61,802 and $50,763, respectively.
Obama originally proposed the College Scorecard in January 2012, and the federal government released a preliminary version last June. Last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also released a Financial Aid Comparison Shopper meant to help families calculate the cost of college.