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George Washington University, wealthy students at Conspicuous consumption 101

Darrow Montgomery

What a year for George Washington University! Fresh on the heels of the school’s 2012 scandal—the university had been booted from the U.S. News & World Report college rankings for fudging self-reported data—came a pair of PR kerfuffles that pretty much cemented GW’s long-standing reputation as a place of privilege for all eternity.

First came a lengthy April Washington Post feature on the “atmosphere of conspicuous consumption” on campus. Among the details: Chanel accessories, $160 bottles of Veuve Clicquot, and the flooding of a luxury apartment complex by students. According to the Post, managers at the Avenue “were banking on parents being unlikely to pony up an average $3,900-a-month rent for their kid’s college living quarters. They were wrong.”

The real damage, though, hit in October when school officials admitted in the GW Hatchet that the university’s proclaimed “need-blind” admissions policy was anything but. The Hatchet reported that GW, whose 2013-14 tuition, room, and board approached $60,000, “puts hundreds of undergraduate applicants on its waitlist each year because they cannot pay GW’s tuition.” Students who could afford the price were bumped from waitlisted to accepted.

GW President Steven Knapp told the Post last spring that he wouldn’t deny that the school has “a lot of students that come from wealthy families, but we are increasingly trying to diversify.” Good luck.

Our Readers Say

As a graduating senior, I can say that this is anything but true. So untrue, in fact, that it's honestly offensive to all of the students at GW who are receiving aid from the university, myself included. I would not have been able to go to GW without the scholarships I've received, and that's true of most of my friends here as well. Sure, there are some people who are exorbitantly wealthy, but it is far from the majority.
This is my forth year at GW, and among my many friends I can only think of one who isn't on financial aid. You can say what you want, but to me, the students highlighted in the article mentioned are only a small part of the diverse student body at GW, and I would like to see other members of the community highlighted for their amazing contributions to the school and the city.
Just because a student knows lots of people on financial aid doesn't mean there aren't also a ton of rich people. 52.9% of GW undergrads get no need-based aid--no loans for students or parents, no grants, no work-study, etc. In other words, most undergrads have families that can pay over $47k a year in tuition plus room and board out of pocket. Considering that the median household income in the US is about $51k, it's pretty crazy that most GW students' families have that much spare change just lying around.

US News says on average GW only meets 86% of their students' financial need. They offer financial aid packages that mean many admitted students are unable to attend, and they prioritize rich waitlisted students over poor ones.

And only 14% of undergrads are eligible for Pell Grants.

No one is saying that everyone at GW is rich, just that a very high percentage are very rich.
"This is my forth year at GW..."
Money well-spent, clearly.

"...but to me, the students highlighted..."
Your opinion of the matter is fine, but it's counter to the facts as presented and verified, no matter how much you feel like it's not the case.

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