As students prepare to end the spring semester and make plans for summer and fall, Georgetown University must ensure affordable summer-term housing for any student who needs access to stable, on-campus living.
In early April, Georgetown announced it would charge $4,485 for housing accommodations for students approved to live on campus for the June through August summer term — a considerable increase from the $1,500 it asked students to pay last summer. The cost, though similar to rates the university has charged in previous summers, is a shocking increase that will heavily burden Georgetown’s most vulnerable students who were approved to live on-campus through the housing stability application process and need on-campus housing because of unsafe home environments or extenuating circumstances amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure students have accessible summer housing, the Editorial Board calls on Georgetown to maintain the reduced housing price offered for summer 2020 and expand financial aid for students whose circumstances necessitate on-campus living accomodations.
After the pandemic forced Georgetown to move all classes online and students to complete their coursework from home, the university offered limited housing options to students whose situations made it difficult or dangerous to return home. Georgetown allowed several hundred students to remain on campus for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester after they were approved in a stringent applicant process. Many of these students stayed through the summer. Though Georgetown initially planned to charge these students $3,850 to remain in university housing for summer 2020, administrators lowered the cost to $1,500 after students raised concerns about their ability to pay the expense.
Despite students still facing housing insecurity and uncertainty, Georgetown plans to charge students $4,485 for the upcoming summer. This upcharge forces students to choose between expensive on-campus accommodations, far more expensive living arrangements in the Washington, D.C. area and potentially unstable off-campus housing. Making the decision more difficult is the university’s indecision on how it will financially assist students who require housing for the summer. The university is working to determine its financial aid plans for the summer, but with just weeks until the end of the spring semester, Georgetown has left students uncertain about how they will afford the summer accommodations they require.
During final exams, the combination of increased housing costs and Georgetown’s failure to communicate about summer financial assistance has placed immense stress on students, according to Bernie Yamakaitis (SFS ’23), a student approved to live on campus since the fall 2020 semester.
“Worrying about summer plans has definitely increased my stress for this term. From my perspective, it feels like the university is dragging its feet with handling the situations of the most at-risk students,” Yamakaitis wrote in an email to The Hoya. “As a transgender student with no family support, I’m already dealing with a lot of stress and the university has simply increased my anxiety.”
The administration must mitigate these concerns by lowering the price of summer stability housing and expanding financial aid to ensure all students can afford a safe place to live over the summer. Even its reduced price may create financial hardship for students living in summer stability housing, and Georgetown must quickly release financial aid packages to ensure that students who need university accommodations over summer can afford them.
Failing to implement these measures will not only damage student trust in the university but also disproportionately fall on students who are already vulnerable. According to Ace Frazier (MSB ’23), a Georgetown University Student Association senator who lives on campus, the change in price will especially harm students from marginalized communities.
“The students who needed that stability housing are queer, trans, low-income, disabled, survivors, and often people of color,” Frazier wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The planned increase in the price of summer housing is simply a return to normal university procedures, according to a university spokesperson, and Georgetown is still determining how it will distribute financial aid for summer housing and other living expenses.
“This summer we will be welcoming other students back onto campus and will be reverting back to the normal model where cost of housing is charged back to students,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The University is working to determine how we will assist students who won’t be enrolled in classes this summer and who need assistance meeting costs of housing, food and other expenses during the period after their Spring term ends and before their Fall term begins.”
Even as the university is working on financial aid packages for the summer, it has not released a timeline for when students will know about summer housing aid. Students should know well in advance whether they will be able to afford summer stability housing, and the university must communicate more clearly how it plans to support these students.
The university’s failure to communicate its plans for financial aid for summer housing in a timely manner compounds the problems raised by its price hike, leaving students insecure. The sudden price increase means many already vulnerable students feel pushed out by the university, left in dire circumstances with nowhere to live. Students deserve peace of mind as final exams approach and, more importantly, a safe place to live for the summer. Students who have relied on the university’s stability housing for over a year should not have to worry about whether they will have a place to live in the coming months. Georgetown must make living accommodations affordable by lowering the cost of housing and guaranteeing financial aid for students who depend on summer housing.
Without this necessary action, the university will needlessly endanger the safety and financial stability of hundreds of students who rely on Georgetown for housing.
The Hoya’s Editorial Board is composed of six students and is 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.