Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Economics | MA Financing


Most of the Economic Department’s MA students finance their studies at American University by drawing on their savings, taking out loans, and/or working to support their graduate studies. Almost all courses for the MA program are offered in the evening to accommodate working students. Washington, DC, has the largest job market for economists on the planet. There are multilateral organizations such as the World Bank or the Interamerican Development Bank, the US government, nongovernmental organizations, consulting firms, and research organizations that hire economics students. Most of these organizations post job opportunities on their web sites. Some of these institutions reimburse tuition expense for students who attend AU part time. While you earn money to support your studies, you also gain valuable experience and strengthen your resume.

American University also hires its own students in offices, the library, and computer labs. Go to the Human Resources Office web site or call Human Resources Office at (202) 885-2591 for information on job openings and benefits. After working for the university for four months, students are eligible for up to two free courses each semester.

Work-study students are part-time employees of the university who are supported by funding from the federal government. To be eligible for a work-study position, you must submit the FAFSA. Please go to the Human Resources Office web site or call the Office of Financial Aid for more information about obtaining these positions.



The University’s Office of Financial Aid can assist MA students in applying for Federal Stafford loans and outside loans.

Federal Stafford Loans
American University graduate students who are accepted for these loans can borrow up to $18,500 every two semesters. A completed and signed FAFSA is required before determining eligibility for federally subsidized loans. Eligibility requires that the graduate student be a US citizen or permanent resident, be enrolled in a degree-granting academic program, and take at least 6 credit hours per semester. Federal Stafford loans are either need-based or nonneed-based.

Outside Loans
If you require more money than is available from Federal Stafford loans, you may want to take out an outside loan through a private lender. Consult with your Graduate Financial Aid Counselor for information about outside loans. Interest rates, fees, and requirements for outside loans vary, so you will want to contact individual lenders to find the loan that is best for you. Contact the Office of Financial Aid at (202) 885-6133 for suggested private loan lenders.

Summer Financial Aid
If you need federal loan money for summer sessions, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at (202) 885-6133 or They will provide you with the necessary forms to complete this process.

Non-US Citizens or Permanent Residents
If you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you are not eligible for federal loans. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for a listing of private loan lenders.


Merit-Based Awards

The university (not the Economics Department) offers merit-based awards for MA students. These awards are open to college seniors planning to enroll as full-time graduate students. Both MA and Ph.D. students from all academic units of the university compete for the same awards. Since funding for these awards is limited, competition for them is extremely keen. Consequently, very few MA students receive a merit-based award from the university. Go to the university’s web site for graduate financial aid for more information (or contact the Office of Merit Awards at (202) 885-1800 or the College of Arts and Sciences at (202) 885-3621. The university’s merit awards are the Special Opportunity Awards (open to African Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders), the United Methodist Graduate Scholarship (open only to Methodists) the Hart A. Massey Graduate Fellowship (open only to Canadian citizens) and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Fellowship. If you apply for a university merit award, please inform Professor Kara Reynolds at

Important Contact Information
If you have specific questions regarding the policies or procedures of the departments listed above, please contact them directly.

Financial Aid Office
American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: (202) 885-6133

Students Accounts Office
American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: (202) 885-3541

CAS Graduate Admissions Office
American University
Washington, DC 20016
Phone: (202) 885-3620

Phones: (800) 433-3243 or (319) 337-5665


The FAFSA Application Process and Entrance Loan Counseling

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is necessary to be considered for any government loan or work-study position. You may complete the application online at or obtain a copy from many government offices (for example, public libraries or post offices). Please note the following:

  • The FAFSA for the upcoming school year is available after January 1st.
  • American University’s FAFSA code is 001434.
  • Your application for financial aid cannot be processed until you have submitted your FAFSA, so the earlier you complete the FAFSA, the earlier your financial aid can be processed.
  • You must renew or complete the FAFSA every school year.

After submitting the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal government. Please follow the instructions on that form and submit it back to the FAFSA processors. Once the Financial Aid Office indicates you have completed these steps, you will be awarded a Financial Aid package. You may accept or decline the award completely or in part. The Office of Financial Aid will send you instructions on how to do so at the appropriate time.

If you accept all or some of the amount offered in federal government loan money, you will need to complete the Department of Education’s Entrance Loan Counseling. The federal government requires this for all first-time borrowers and/or new students to AU. You may either complete this in person at the university’s Office of Financial Aid or online at

Upon completion of the Entrance Loan Counseling, you must sign a Promissory Note, which lists how much money you have decided to borrow and the earliest possible date the loan can be disbursed. This will be mailed to your permanent address or you can fill it out online at Please note that Promissory Notes are legal and binding contracts that indicate that you are fully accountable for repayment of federal loans. Do not fax or mail these to the Financial Aid Office.

If you have any funds left over after your tuition and fees are paid to AU, you may request the difference for your own use. For this, you will have to complete a Refund Request Form from the Student Accounts Office. You can request this either by filling out the form in their office, or emailing them at