Is GWU worth it?

I’m a high school senior wanting to go into something along the lines of political communication/public affairs, and I’ve been looking at schools in DC because it seemed like an obvious step. I love DC more than anywhere else and would kill to do my undergrad and eventually end up there permanently, but I have a few concerns:

I won’t get any merit aid from georgetown so my #1 in DC has recently been GW, but I honestly haven’t heard great things. My stats are pretty good—1500 sat, 4.4 gpa, flute for 9 years, two leadership positions, etc.—so I feel okay about the possibility of getting some merit at GW, but I would most likely still graduate with a significant amount of debt. So: is it worth going to GW (the main things that get me are all of the internship opportunities due to location)? Would I get similar advantages just by going to a state school and doing a DC semester program? I’m basically trying to figure out what’s going to give me the best opportunities to establish a career in DC.

Thanks for any help/experience you have to offer!!

You sound a lot like my S18. He was (and still is) fascinated by DC and we were in the same situation where paying $75-$80K per year for Georgetown couldn’t be justified. He got the top merit amount at GWU but the cost was still $50K per year and given the choice amongst his options on the East Coast he preferred UVA (he won an Echols scholarship there).

He decided on our state flagship instead at $30K per year and over the last 2.5 years has had an amazing experience, securing an excellent summer internship with a DC think tank which meant he didn’t even need to do a semester in DC as he’d originally planned. We have no doubts he’ll be able to work in DC in the future if he wants to.

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For any major that does not immediately lead to a lucrative job, you need to avoid debt. For anything short of a medical doctorate, you need to be very careful taking on debt.

I think that @Twoin18’s son had the right approach. Attend a university that is not going to leave you in debt.

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Are your parents planning to co-sign a lot of debt for you? You can only borrow the ~$5500/year federal student loan on your own. Your stats are excellent. I would follow the merit money and avoid debt. How are going to be able to afford to live in DC if a large chunk of your income has to go toward paying off private loans?

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I hate how the “norm” over the last two decades has been to go to college at any cost. I’ve always been one to advocate against GW if it means incurring significant debt. Having graduated from GW 10 years ago (and having many professional peers with mountains of debt) I have seen what kind of burden college debt is upon entering the workforce.

I know the number is different for everyone, but I figure the total “acceptable” figure to be someone around what a person can expect to pay-off within 5 years of graduating. Realistically, that’s about $30K or so (think a vehicle payment). It’s still a burden, but there’s at least an end in sight. Also, your first few years you’re typically able to “get by” on the cheap, especially after learning how to live that way as a student. Beyond five years, though, the “real world” starts catching up and you want to think about moving somewhere, buying your first home, and probably getting married. All those things are much more difficult with a large amount of debt to your name.

Soooooo… is GW worth it? I guess it’s up to you, but I would advise against 4 years at GW if it meant >$30K worth debt at the end. There are other ways: community school for two years then transfer to GW (two years’ worth internships are still worth it) or even NRTOC if you have the appetite for some time in the “world’s finest Navy” (I’m a Navy veteran, lol.) This advice goes to all, by the way, and is in no way tailored only for you. Good luck with what you decide!

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