Scholarship Program Offers More Than Financial Support
April 20, 2011 – Jose Madrid (C’14) knew for a long time that he wanted to attend Georgetown, but he didn’t know before coming to the university how much community support he’d have through the Georgetown Scholarship Program.
Through GSP, Madrid and other students receive scholarship money based on their achievements and participate in peer mentoring and networking with alumni and donors.
“It’s a very amazing experience to be able to meet the people that not only trust me but want [me] to be here,” says Madrid, a first-year student from Denver. [They want you to] know their experience at Georgetown was great, and they want others to experience it.”
Meeting the Need
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Services began GSP in 2004 after alumni showed interest in helping the university enroll and retain students with financial aid needs. Today, it’s funded by the 1789 Scholarship Imperative.
“We were losing so many of our very best students who had financial need because our competition was offering them more scholarship and less loans,” says Patricia McWade, dean of the Student Financial Services. “So we appealed to our alumni to help get more money so we could make more competitive financial aid offers.”
The majority of the students are first-generation college attendees – many of them valedictorians of their high schools. With about 330 students involved with GSP, McWade hopes that number will increase to 430 next year.
A Welcoming Place
Missy Foy (C’03), GSP program director, says helping the financial aid burden for students who wish to attend Georgetown goes a long way in letting people know the campus is open to all.
“Georgetown is a welcoming place for students of all backgrounds,” she says. “Once you’re here, you realize there’s a place for everybody.”
Beyond the Donation
Alumni often contact the students individually to see how they’re doing and if they need anything, providing ideal networking opportunities for participants, Foy says.
“The program office was established … to respond as a connector between the students getting the scholarship and the donors who wanted to be involved beyond the donation,” Foy says.
Donors, who fund 100 percent of all GSP and 1789 scholarship awards, also have invited students to dinners, events and activities when students were unable to travel home during holidays or breaks. Some have even donated frequent flyer mileage allowing family members to visit campus for Parents Weekend and graduation.
About 85 percent of GSP graduates in the Class of 2010 gave back to Georgetown through time or money. That’s nearly 20 percent higher than the average giving rate of the entire class, according to the GSP office.
In addition to peer mentoring, GSP students also mentor middle-school-aged students from the local Washington Jesuit Academy.
“Yes, it’s about getting a wonderful education but it’s also what you do with this education,” Madrid says. “It comes back to the idea of educating the whole person, and I think GSP embodies that with what they do with us as students.”