After Georgetown University’s early action applicant pool decreased for the second year in a row, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon (CAS ’64, GRD ’69) attributed the falling application numbers to an increasing use of binding early admissions programs at other institutions. But, as more colleges and universities choose to make their applications free, Georgetown should also look to its $75 application as a barrier for potential applicants.
Georgetown’s application fee is more than twice the $44 average college application fee in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Georgetown should eliminate its application fee to increase the accessibility of applications and accommodate a more socioeconomically diverse applicant pool.
Georgetown already struggles with building a socioeconomically diverse student body. In 2017, the median family income of a Georgetown student was $229,100, compared to the national median of $61,372 that same year, according to The New York Times. Educational institutions should foster dialogue and exchange of ideas, but the ideas presented on Georgetown’s campus are limited when 21% of students come from the top 1%. To mitigate this socioeconomic disparity, the university should be actively working to recruit applicants from more socioeconomically diverse backgrounds. The steep application fee, however, can deter low-income students from applying to the university.
High-achieving, low-income applicants are less likely to apply to selective institutions like Georgetown than peers with similar academic performance that come from higher-income families, according to research compiled by Inside Higher Ed. A $75 application fee creates yet another financial barrier to deter potential low-income applicants.
While Georgetown offers to waive the fee for students with demonstrated financial need, this process creates an additional burden for low-income students. Moreover, the process of obtaining a fee waiver for Georgetown is more difficult than it is when students apply only to schools that use the Common Application. The Common Application Fee Waiver only needs to be approved once by a guidance counselor to waive the fees for all Common Application schools. However, since Georgetown does not use the Common Application, the university requires guidance counselors to submit an additional fee waiver request for students directly to the university via a separate fee waiver form, letter or email.
Even though students have successfully navigated the fee-waiving process, the university is creating an additional hoop for low-income applicants to jump through to submit the same application as their higher-income peers. An easier application process for high-income applicants can make these students more likely to apply, contributing to a more socioeconomically privileged applicant pool.
The Georgetown administration has cited a desire to prevent the application pool from increasing with a lengthy application to ensure that the students who do apply are genuinely interested. While removing the application fee could lead to a jump in total applications, Georgetown would not experience a significant increase in applications because the university does not use the Common Application. If it were free to apply, students would still demonstrate interest in Georgetown by taking time to fill out the university’s separate application, but removing the fee would make the application more accessible and thus draw a more diverse applicant pool. Moreover, Georgetown’s current requirements cannot accurately measure interest in the university with the fee creating a financial barrier for some prospective students.
Although eliminating the application fee would eliminate this source of revenue for the university, the cultural and institutional benefits of increased socioeconomic diversity are worth it. “Georgetown’s application fee is set by the University and supports the Admissions Office as its staff carefully review the more than 20,000 applications that Georgetown receives each year,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. However, several other private colleges and universities, such as Wellesley College, Carleton College and Denison University, do not charge application fees and have still managed to keep their admissions offices open. Georgetown, too, can find alternative methods of funding.
The university should demonstrate a commitment to financial accessibility and increased socioeconomic diversity on campus by eliminating its application fee. $75 shouldn’t determine whether someone can be considered for admission to Georgetown.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and chaired by the opinion editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.