The results are in and can be viewed in full here. A summary and analysis of the results appears below:
From July 14 to July 17, 2008, the Georgetown University Law Center Equal Justice Foundation (“EJF”) surveyed recipients of Equal Justice Foundation summer funding to receive their feedback on the extent to which their EJF stipend covered their summer living expenses. We had a 64% response rate for our survey. Of the 246 students who received an EJF stipend for the summer of 2008, 158 responded to the survey, which was distributed via email and completed by respondents via a web service called “Survey Monkey.” Survey results were password protected. This memo summarizes the survey’s findings, as analyzed by the EJF board.
The EJF stipend does not adequately cover summer living expenses for a majority of EJF recipients.
A large majority, 81% of respondents said their EJF stipend did not fully cover their living expenses for the summer.
A majority, 60.2% of respondents said they paid $750 or more each month in rent, with 38.7% stating they paid more than $1000 each month. Three months rent at a minimal rate of $750 equals $2250, consuming the vast majority of a 1L stipend after income tax and Social Security withholding. A monthly rent of $1000 completely exhausts a 1L stipend, with no money leftover for groceries or transportation.
Additionally, rising fuel prices have increased that cost of commuting and flying. This has especially impacted those traveling internationally or those living in cities without sufficient public transportation. Nearly half (41.1%) of respondents report relocating away from Washington, DC or their home towns for their summer internships.
The EJF Board is discouraged that recipients are not able to make ends meet over the course of a summer and are determined to increase funding levels to allow students to participate in public interest work.
Large numbers of EJF recipients are going into additional debt, beyond academic year student loans, in order to make ends meet.
The majority of respondents borrowed money from family (48.1%) and/or paid for additional expenses with credit cards (37.3%).
Students also report working second jobs at night and on weekends (26.6%), missing payments on bills (7.0%), relying on spouses or significant others for financial support (5.0%) and depleting personal savings (4.4%) in order to make it through the summer.
The EJF Board is especially concerned with the need for EJF recipients to further incur debt during their summer working in public interest. The decision to work in public interest during the 2L summer or after 3L year is a difficult decision financially. The need to repay family loans or pay off the interest and balance on a credit card from a summer of public interest work should not be a further financial impediment to a career in public interest.
In order to make ends meet, recipients need more financial assistance from Georgetown and EJF, but not much more.
When asked how much support they would need in order to live “reasonably
comfortably” a vast majority of respondents (70.3%) said an increased EJF stipend of $4000 - $6000 would be adequate.
No respondents suggested that a stipend of more than $9,000 would be necessary, and only 10.8% of respondents suggested amounts of $7000 or more.
By increasing our current EJF stipends by only $1000-$2000, we can succeed in making a public interest summer more feasible for students at Georgetown. The EJF Board is committed to this goal and looks forward to working with the Law Center administration.
View the results in full