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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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GW’s average tuition discount clocks in about 10 points below national average

Hatchet File Photo by Alexander Welling | Assistant Photo Editor
The rate at which GW discounts tuition for students is about 10 percentage points lower than the national average of about 50 percent for private schools, according to a report from a credit rating agency.

GW’s tuition discount rate for first-year students is more than 11 percent lower than the national average for private universities, according to a new report.

Ben Toll, the interim dean of undergraduate admissions, said GW’s tuition discount rate for first-year students this fall – the average discount given to students through scholarships and grants off of the full price of tuition – was 39.8 percent, lower than the nationwide average for private schools at 51 percent, according to a report from credit rating company Moody’s. Higher education experts said the lower rate indicates a strong interest in attending GW, which allows officials to extend a lower discount to incoming students.

“With this rate, GW is able to recruit and retain a diverse mix of high-quality undergraduate students from across the country and around the world,” Toll said in an email.

Toll said the annual tuition discount rate is based on admitted students’ academic quality and demonstrated need. GW does not meet 100 percent of demonstrated need-based aid, according to the Office of Student Financial Assistance’s website.

Tuition rates at GW have historically increased by about 3 percent per year. Officials eliminated its fixed tuition policy this year, effective with the Class of 2024.

Toll declined to say why GW’s tuition discount rate for this year’s freshman class is lower than the national average of private universities. He declined to say if officials will change the tuition discount rate in the future.

Education finance experts said a lower tuition discount rate allows a university to promote a sticker price that is more reflective of the actual cost of attendance.

Martin Van Der Werf, an associate director at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, said the lower rate is a “pretty healthy sign” for GW because it shows that the University does not need to offer a very high tuition discount to entice accepted students to commit to attending GW.

“If I’m giving away my product to half my students at half price, you know it’s the sign of a college that’s really struggling to find students and get students to come,” Van Der Werf said. “Typically, the reason discount rates have been rising so much is because colleges find that the only way they can get students to enroll is by giving them a bigger discount off the sticker price.”

Van Der Werf said lower discount rates indicate that GW is attracting students with a “higher ability” to pay the cost of attendance, which allows the University to give greater discounts to lower-income students who need more financial aid.

Colleen Ganjian, the founder of DC College Counseling, said a lower discount rate makes the sticker price more reflective of the average student’s actual cost of attendance, adding that GW has fallen from the list of the top 10 most expensive private schools in the United States. The difference between the national average and GW’s discount rate will not have very significant effects, she said.

“I think that when we’re talking about these numbers, I personally don’t think that this is going to have much of a difference,” she said.

Nate Johnson, the founder and principal consultant of the consulting firm Postsecondary Analytics, said private universities often choose a tuition discount rate that allows them to converge in price with other institutions.

“Their sticker prices end up being the same or within a few thousand dollars, where the real differences in what it costs is in the net price or how much they discount that,” Johnson said.

Johnson added that tuition payments are a University’s main source of income, but endowments can help offset costs and allow officials to offer more aid. GW’s endowment hit nearly $1.8 billion at the end of fiscal year 2019 but has grown slower than many of its peer institutions.

“You can find a higher discount rate either at universities that have large endowments, like Harvard and Yale, or universities that have much lower cost, which might include some less selective universities,” he said.

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