At last week’s fall meeting of the Board of Trustees, GW’s highest governing body, University President Steven Knapp vowed to lower tuition. Knapp claimed the price of attending GW, the highest in the nation, is more than just a number – it is a bane of students and the University. The change in tone and rhetoric on this issue is both a welcome and a significant assertion of leadership from Knapp that many have been awaiting.
Knapp’s frank acknowledgment that the tuition is unacceptable is a departure from the language of his predecessor, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. Last February, after the Board set the tuition for the incoming freshman class, Trachtenberg told The Hatchet that the raise was “modest.” When taking into consideration the fixed tuition plan, the percentage increase was moderate. Yet a reasonable increase on an exorbitant total sum does not make the issue go away.
Students, parents and alumni are tired of hearing an administration brush off lingering concerns about the tuition that has unfortunately come to define this university. College tuitions have increased across the country and a fair share have a hefty price tag.
Perhaps this change will address some vital issues: attracting and retaining an economically diverse student body, altering the stigma attached to the University’s price tag and working toward higher alumni giving. Knapp pointed out, and wisely so, that many potential applicants to GW are put off by the cost. GW is known for its costs, not the elements that make this university unique. As of now, about 30 percent of students who leave GW between their freshman and sophomore years cite financial reasons. Many graduates often have trouble reconciling their experience with the cost, deciding not to donate to GW. Alumni, as well as current students, want to see an administration actively addressing these central concerns.
Knapp’s call for the Board to examine a plan increasing GW’s affordability in February is an impressive assertion of leadership at the beginning of his term.