Aid Without Borders
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 02:01
Once a Georgetown acceptance letter comes in the mail, students all receive the same opportunities to learn no matter their town, state or country of origin. But there is one way in which applicants who come from outside the United States are left behind: financially.
While the university says it meets 100 percent of American students’ demonstrated financial need, no similar commitment exists for international students. Georgetown should reconsider this aid policy to offer more than the “very limited” financial aid that it currently grants to international students.
The average Georgetown classroom boasts representatives from an impressive range of countries — an aspect of academic life here that adds valuable perspectives for faculty and students alike. However, simply hearing from international students who can afford Georgetown’s high price tag misses out on equally valuable perspectives from other segments of society in any country.
Unfortunately, that perspective is lacking at Georgetown. If Georgetown — and the School of Foreign Service in particular — is truly committed to challenging students to think critically about issues facing international development and international affairs, then the socioeconomic diversity within our international community must be improved.
Even outside of the classroom, Georgetown stands only to gain from a socioeconomically diverse community of international students. Perhaps if international students from more varied socioeconomic backgrounds were given the resources to attend Georgetown, the social separation of many international students from their American counterparts that often begins during New Student Orientation would be more likely to blur.
Currently, just 27 U.S. undergraduate institutions offer to meet 100 percent international students’ demonstrated financial need. Of those 27, only five schools are need-blind, with the other 22 taking ability to pay into consideration during the admissions process. Though Georgetown is need-blind for international students during the admissions process, this fair policy yields few benefits in practice, as students who are admitted often cannot afford to attend without the aid they would receive if they lived within the U.S. borders.
Of course, financial resources are limited and there are many qualified students within the United States who need financial assistance to attend Georgetown. But when international students are told financial aid is “very limited” from the get-go, Georgetown’s diversity and academic commitment to international studies suffer.
Given the international focus and aspirations of much of the Georgetown student body, it is unfortunate that the university has not done more to welcome international students from all backgrounds to the Hilltop. Shifting policy to provide more aid to international students is a change from which we all stand to benefit.