Staff Editorial: Promoting public service a worthwhile goal

GW consistently places in the top ranks nationwide of graduates being accepted to service programs like Teach for America and the Peace Corps. Maybe soon, GW students will not have to take a huge hit to their pocketbooks to be so socially conscious.

Last week, The Hatchet reported that the University has begun to develop a program that could help students offset loan debt if they go into public service jobs after graduation.

The idea came from University President Steven Knapp’s service task force, which was also responsible for the far less worthwhile co-curricular transcript. In contrast, this is a great initiative, and GW should make it a development and fundraising priority.

While not exactly an out-of-the-box concept, most other debt-offsetting programs are for graduate schools, such as at GW’s Law School and Graduate School of Political Management.

A program that offers to relieve debt for undergraduates interested in service careers would be innovative and welcome. Currently, for students graduating with staggering debt and a desire to serve, public service careers are often not a fiscally viable option.

Especially in this economic climate, with economists calling for increased government spending, the public service sector has the potential to grow. GW has the chance to help its graduates enter this field while simultaneously setting itself apart in the collegiate market.

A service debt-relief program would be a strong admissions selling point and would make the University more attractive to academically talented students who are seeking public service careers.

Understandably, this program will take time and a considerable endowment, but this initiative has a significant upside for students and the University’s reputation, and it is a worthwhile division of fundraising efforts.

Debt should not be the main barrier for dedicated GW graduates seeking to enter public service, and the University should aggressively pursue this refreshingly meaningful idea.

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