AU is committed to mitigating costs to the greatest possible extent
American University understands that paying for your college education may seem daunting, especially in these hard economic times, and we are committed to utilizing our considerable resources to help motivated students attain a valued degree at a reasonable cost.
Advance Planning: Unique to university budgeting in higher education, AU’s budget follows a 2-year cycle. In February 2013, the AU Board of Trustees approved a university budget for the next two years that carefully balances the most important needs of our constituents with sound financial management, and maintains momentum for the strategic priorities of the institution, even in a challenging economic time.
Moderate Increases: During the last 2-year budget cycle, AU’s average 3.75% tuition and mandatory fee increase was below the national average for 4-year private universities according to the College Board. The 2.9 percent increase in tuition and fees for the next two years (which is the lowest increase on record-dating back to the mid-1970s) will also be below the national average continuing a 10-year trend where our tuition increases have been below the national average. We will be vigilant in our commitment to moderate increases going forward and will increase financial aid, commensurate with any increase in tuition.
A Focus on the Process: Most recently, we’ve focused on our financial aid distribution process. Since 2009, we have shifted our institutional expenditures from merit to need-based aid to mitigate cost, increase affordability and decrease student indebtedness. We have also committed to funding low income Pell-eligible students.
Financial Literacy: AU recognizes there is not enough information, especially for students and their families who utilize private loans. Therefore, AU is ramping up its efforts to educate students and families about AU costs and promote smart financial decisions. Last spring, the Financial Aid Office created a financial literacy workshop focused on all aspects of money management including debt and budget planning. The program will continue this year.
Reaching Out to Those in Need: AU has established an Emergency Financial Aid Fund to ensure that students whose situations change are able to continue their studies through to graduation, despite financial challenges they may face on the way. The Class of 2012, many of whom either faced economic hardship themselves or witnessed classmates struggling to stay in school, decided that their senior class gift would be a donation to the Emergency Financial Aid Fund. After hearing of the senior class’ efforts, AU’s deans matched dollar for dollar the donations from students graduating in their school or college. The end result--$14,000 was added to the fund.
Five Facts to Be in the Know
- AU tuition has been, and will continue to be, within the mid-market range of peer institutions.
- AU has been increasing its financial aid offerings since the start of the recession while other institutions have cut back. In fact, during academic year 2012-13, AU spent nearly $75 million to assist in meeting students’ financial needs.
- AU is committed to using its resources to create socioeconomic diversity on campus. For the most recent entering classes, Pell-eligible students constitute approximately 20% of the new students.
- In addition to the funds set aside in the budget for financial aid (the university’s 3rd largest budget expenditure), AU’s Financial Aid Office spent $6 million last year from the Emergency Financial Aid Fund to ensure that students whose situations change are able to continue their studies through graduation.
- AU is dedicated to increasing the amount of donor based scholarships that are available to students. Last year, AU raised $2.4 million for scholarships, against a goal of $1 million.