The Georgetown University Law Center Student Bar Association called for a universitywide tuition freeze as well as greater transparency in tuition changes in a resolution submitted to Law Center Dean William Treanor on Oct. 15.
The SBA, which represents all Georgetown Law students, works through various subcommittees to enact changes to campus policy. In the resolution, students asked the administration to approve tuition rates for the next academic year that match those from this year adjusted for inflation, as well as spend the year looking into how it can adjust the budget to reduce the cost of tuition.
Students also advocated for more transparency, calling for the university to notify community members of tuition increases sooner and make more information discussed in SBA Appropriations Committee meetings public.
The Appropriations Committee of the SBA is comprised of students and faculty members who advise the Dean on tuition and budget matters. Before delivering the resolution to Treanor, the SBA voted unanimously to pass the motion Oct. 9, according to committee member Josh Mogil (LAW ’20, SFS ’11).
Student members of the Appropriations Committee from the 2019-20 and 2018-19 school years drafted the resolution in solidarity with Georgetown undergraduate students, who called for a tuition freeze according to a Feb. 15 editorial in The Hoya.
Students across university campuses stand united in the push for a tuition freeze, according to Mogil.
“I’m sure you know, students don’t agree on anything,” Mogil said. “These student government meetings are always contentious. But we spoke with one voice and unanimously, there was not one dissenter.”
The resolution was cosponsored by 20 SBA delegates and four student groups, including the Georgetown chapter of the American Constitution Society, a nationwide legal organization that promotes the fundamental values of the U.S. Constitution.
A tuition freeze would make law school more accessible to people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, according to committee representative John Heflin (LAW ’20).
“You’re going to have more and more students from low income backgrounds, from more diverse backgrounds, who don’t have the financial means and resources to get into the system to get a law degree,” Heflin said. “I think that is going to have a very negative impact on the kinds of people who are, in 20 to 30 years, writing and deciding the laws.”
Full-time Georgetown J.D. tuition for the 2019-20 school year is $64,548, and the total estimated cost of attendance is $94,500, according to the resolution. Law school tuition rates in the United States have risen steadily by between 3.5% and 4% per year for the past 20 years, according to the American Bar Association.
The Appropriations Committee conducted research last year on areas within the law school’s budget to cut back that would justify a smaller tuition increase, aiming for around 2%, according to Mogil. Georgetown Law tuition and fees for full-time J.D. students, however, increased by 3.7%, according to the university website.
After receiving the resolution, Treanor said he looks forward to further partnership with students in the Georgetown Law community to address the most appropriate ways to keep tuition affordable.
“I am deeply committed to making a Georgetown Law education affordable for students from the broadest array of backgrounds, including our rapidly increasing cohort from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds,” Treanor wrote in a statement to The Hoya.
Treanor will meet with the SBA to discuss a range of topics Oct. 24 and will meet with specifically the Appropriations Committee to begin the annual budget cycle Nov. 1, according to Mogil.
While the university may not agree to a tuition freeze, the resolution will spur a necessary dialogue about the budget, according to law professor Anne Fleming, who served on the Appropriations Committee for the 2018-19 academic year.
“Although an outright tuition freeze may not be feasible, given the financial needs of the school, it will surely help in the Committee’s work to have a clear statement of the SBA’s views as the committee members delve into the details of the budget,” Fleming wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Mogil brought forward a similar resolution last year about rising tuition rates, but the SBA did not pass it, according to Mogil.
This year’s resolution focused on making demands that could realistically be passed by the administration, according to SBA president Melody Alemansour (LAW ’20).
“We at least want to make sure we’re taking healthy steps to move in the right direction, so this resolution calls for, at least at a baseline, more affordability and transparency,” Alemansour said. “The idea has been discussed since last year, but we had to figure out the right way to bring it forward.”