College Affordability: AU and Your Educational Goals

Percent of Institutional Expenditures on Merit vs. Need

A Shift in AU Financial Aid

Almost 50% increase in need-based funding in 5 years

AU makes an extra effort to help you with financial aid

We understand that the ongoing economic recovery has many families across the country feeling uncertain about how to pay for college, but AU is here to help. Five years ago, in an effort to help make college more affordability for a greater number of our students, AU shifted resources in order to provide more need-based students with assistance. In fact, nearly 80% of admitted freshmen receive some form of aid assistance. We also offer an array of scholarships and merit awards, as well as a variety of tuition payment plans. 



All the information you need to know

From the application process through graduation, our financial aid experts will guide motivated students as they attain their educational goals here at AU. Here are a few steps and tips to keep in mind as you proceed through your educational experience:

  • How to apply for need-based aid:
    American University’s need-based financial aid programs include both federal and institutional support. Prospective students must complete both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS PROFILE, and current students only need to fill out the FAFSA form in order to be considered for need-based aid.
  • A shift in distribution of financial aid:
    In an effort to promote economic diversity and education access, AU has dedicated a greater percentage of our institutional funding allocation to providing increased need-based aid to incoming undergraduate freshmen and transfer students. This shift in allocation is aimed at insuring that AU is better able to meet the financial needs of its undergraduate population and thus decrease student indebtedness.  
  • Average financial aid packages:
    At AU we recognize that each student's financial circumstance is different. As a result, financial aid packages vary from student to student depending upon the financial backgrounds of each member of the class. Financial aid packages are developed individually, based on a specific family’s unique financial resources and circumstances, and can range from $5,500 to full cost of attendance.  
  • Merit-based scholarships:
    Academically talented students are automatically considered for merit-based awards at the time of their application for admission. Selection for our scholarship awards is competitive and based on a student’s academic performance. These awards range in value from $6,000 to $30,000 and are renewable for four years of undergraduate study. Most merit-based scholarships do not require an application, except for the Frederick Douglas Distinguished Scholars Program, which provides full tuition, room and board.
  • Other merit-based award options:
    A limited number of private AU scholarships that are funded annually or through an endowment by gifts from donors are available. Eligible applicants are automatically reviewed, and a separate scholarship application is not required. Criteria may be based on merit, academic program, need or other factors as designated by the donor. Awards are not announced until after the start of the fall semester. Awards range from $100 to $10,000 and are not renewable.

    Nationally competitive, merit-based scholarships offer students and alumni the means to accomplish a variety of goals, including studying abroad, funding graduate education, and gaining high-level work experience. To begin exploring opportunities, AU’s Merit Awards Office has a National Scholarship Directory to explore along with hundreds of additional merit awards listings.
  • Financial Aid and the Early Decision Process for Prospective Students
    Students often have questions about the role of financial aid in Early Decision. These include concerns about the availability of financial aid for Early Decision students; timing of notification of these awards; and whether or not they should even apply early decision if financial aid is a concern. American University is committed to supporting students who demonstrate financial need. Students who apply to AU under the Early Decision Plan are given consideration for need-based and merit award packages in the same manner as students who apply under our Regular Decision Plan. Our Early Decision candidates are notified at the point of admission of their financial aid awards and merit scholarships (if eligible).

Five Facts to Be in the Know

  1. AU met the 100% of the demonstrated need of 82% of freshman aid filers for academic year 2013-14.
  2. In academic year 2012-13, AU spent nearly $75 million to assist in meeting the financial needs of our undergraduate students.
  3. For the graduating class of 2012,* 77% received some form of need and/or merit based financial aid. The total institutional expenditure for the class of 2012 over four years was more than $53 million.
  4. The 55% of loan borrowers at AU in the graduating class of 2012* is well below the 75% national average for students attending four-year, private, non-profit universities who took out a student loan during their college tenure, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  5. Almost half (45%) of the class of 2012* graduated without any student loan debt.
*Each fall, statistics for the previous year’s graduating class are publicly released.

Undergraduate Costs of Attendance

For the most up to date undergraduate costs of attendance, please visit the Student Accounts page.

Tuition and Fees


Financial Aid Deadlines

Early Decision I: CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: Nov. 15, FAFSA: Feb. 15
Early Decision II: CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: Jan. 15, FAFSA: Feb. 15
Regular Decision Freshman: FAFSA & CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: Feb. 15
Transfer: FAFSA & CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: Mar. 1
Current (Continuing) AU Students: FAFSA: May 1

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