Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Survey Results

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


Kym said...

I'm shocked to see how many EJF recipients are forced to work second jobs this summer.

As if a full time job wasn't enough on it's own!

Will said...

my 1L summer was funded by EJF and VISA.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I totally agree that a little bit more would go a LONG way. Thanks so much for your support and dedication. I couldn't do this without you EJF Board!!!:)

Anonymous said...

"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."

This is a misleading claim, considering that the survey had no option below $3000 (a vote for the $4000-5000 range is not necessarily a vote for an increase, as that was the lowest response permitted).

Will Drake, EJF Chair said...

Because 2Ls receive a stipend of $4000 and because we offered students an option of saying the stipend covered their needs in one of the previous questions, we felt comfortable beginning the "reasonably comfortable" options at $4000. Any student who wishes to receive less than the amount of money that EJF provides is free to return that money in the form of a donation.

Anonymous said...

Which is a fine explanation for phrasing the survey that way, but then using that result to say that "a vast majority" want an increase is overly crafty (at best). Manipulating data is not a good way to make your argument, especially when it's not even necessary to do so given that the results skew in favor of better funding even with a less partisan interpretation.

Will Drake, EJF Chair said...

The point of that sentence is that a vast majority of respondents don't say they'd need more than $6000. Anyone who would want between $3250 and $4000 would be included in that group.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you guys are exploring funding increases--I lived on EJF last summer and it was tight, but it worked w/o loans or additional borrowing. I'd be curious whether EJF, GULC, or some organization can work with students on making the summer work on less as well. For example, it's hard to imagine someone having to pay $1000 for rent for the summer (even DC)--looking for additional roommates and coming up with more flexible living arrangements can drastically reduce that. Once you reduce rent costs (I paid $650 last summer, which was a blessing--but even something like $800 would be a bit more feasible), you're back within the budget.

Equal Justice Foundation

EJF's Live Auction took place January 29, 2015 in Hart Auditorium and was a HUGE SUCCESS. Check the Facebook page for updates about other ways to help fund public interest activities for Summer 2015