Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies (SCS) announced on Mar. 14 that it had reached an agreement with the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to offer 10% scholarships to federal employees.
The new OPM Federal Scholarship Alliance gives civil servants employed by the federal government at the start of the semester a 10% tuition discount. They can retain the discount so long as they are federal employees.
Kathleen M. McGettigan, acting director of the OPM, said that this agreement was a part of OPM’s on going mission of creating the best federal workforce possible.
“The U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) mission is to recruit, retain and honor a world-class workforce to serve the American people.[The new agreement is a] continued effort to close skills gaps, increase Federal employees’ access to high-quality, affordable educational resources, and further develop and sustain the Federal workforce,” she said in a March 14 press release.
Scholarships are available for all Master of Professional Studies and Executive Master of Professional Studies programs, the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, the Doctor of Liberal Studies program, and other non-credit professional certificates. A scholarship can go towards enrollment in online courses as well.
According to Kristen Consolo, chief of staff of the SCS, some federal employees have expressed interest in the program. “We have already started to receive inquiries about the opportunity, and we assume that there are some members of our student body who are already employed by the federal government,” Consolo said.
A press release from the SCS explained that the program will serve federal employees both in Washington and across the country.
“Through the School’s collaboration with OPM, SCS recognizes a federal workforce not only in the D.C. area, but around the country,” the release reads.
The OPM also announced agreements with three other institutions, the College for America at Southern New Hampshire University, Drexel University Online, and the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, on the same day. Unlike these other three institutions, Georgetown only offers the discount to federal employees themselves. Maryland offers the discount to spouses, and Southern New Hampshire and Drexel to spouses and other dependents.
Consolo said that this difference was not intentional on the part of the university. “We were not aware of what the other schools would be offering until the rollout announcement,” Consolo said.
However, the SCS is open to changing its policy. “We’re not ruling out opening this up to spouses and dependents in the future, but we want to assess how our initial launch plays out before doing that,” Consolo wrote in an email to the Voice.
Since the scholarship is contingent upon federal employment, a government furlough could impact those enrolled in the program. Sarah Sidlow, communications coordinator for the SCS, said that Georgetown has worked with federal employees in the past during government shutdowns.
“We wouldn’t want a government furlough to affect the ability of federal employees to continue to attend classes. We have worked through furloughs before and invited people in to take classes. As a university we have tried to be sensitive to the needs of federal employees,” Sidlow said.
The press release from the SCS referenced the 16-day federal government furlough in 2013 and how the SCS invited furloughed federal employees to take classes. “More than 500 federal employees and contractors. Nineteen courses were offered over the course of the government shutdown in subjects such as project management, leadership development, health care, and social media,” the press release reads.
Kelly Otter, dean of the SCS, said in the press release that the university is excited to expand the opportunities for federal employees to grow their skills with a Georgetown degree.
“Federal employees bring a broad and rich perspective to the classroom which complements the skills and knowledge of students working in other sectors,“ Otter said. “It is my hope that this agreement will expand educational opportunity for talented civil servants.”