By now I hope you have had the opportunity to read the GW Today interview with Laurie Koehler, senior associate provost for enrollment management, about how the university factors financial need into its undergraduate admission decisions. When she arrived in July, Ms. Koehler wanted to make sure that the university was clearly and consistently describing its practices, and she has taken significant steps to ensure the transparency our applicants and their families deserve. Ms. Koehler has had Provost Lerman’s and my full support in this effort, and we will continue to update the university community on her progress.
I also want to address the misperception that our need-aware practice is designed to exclude students with limited financial means from attending George Washington. That is not the case. In fact, being need aware is currently our best option for meeting the financial need of as many students as possible while recruiting an academically strong and diverse class. Our goal has always been to come as close as possible to meeting our students’ financial needs. That may mean we cannot offer aid to as many students as we would like. It is also why, when the recession began in 2008, we significantly increased the amount of student aid we were providing.
The very first day I arrived on campus in 2007, I met with all the vice presidents and announced that the affordability of a GW education was one of my highest priorities. I want to ensure that no one is prevented from attending GW for financial reasons. But I have told countless audiences that our main competitive challenge is the small amount of our student aid that comes from our endowment or from philanthropic gifts. That is the main reason why we cannot meet the full need of all the students we would like to admit. It is also why we launched the Power and Promise campaign, which I regard as our single most important fundraising priority. I would love to see us one day become a fully need-blind institution, and I will continue to do all I can to achieve that goal.