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School of International Service Admissions

Grad Admissions FAQs: Finances, Financial Aid

Under what circumstances is the application fee waived?
The $50 application fee is only waived to AU alumni and current AU students. McNair Scholars and IIPP and PPIA fellows are also eligible for fee waivers and should clearly indicate their participation in such a program on their applications.

What forms of payment are acceptable for my application fee?
If students apply online, the application fee can be paid by a major credit card. If a student applies using the paper application, personal checks or international money orders made out to “American University” are the only acceptable methods of payment. Do not, under any circumstances, send cash.

What is the cost of graduate tuition?
For SIS students, tuition is assessed on a per-credit basis. For academic year 2008-2009, the cost per credit is $1178 per credit hour for full-time and part-time students enrolled in standard master's programs. Other student fees are required. Graduate tuition is subject to increase on an annual basis. 

What is the difference between need-based financial aid and merit-based financial aid? How is each awarded?
Merit-based financial aid is awarded upon notification of admission through the School of International Service and can be a combination of tuition remission, stipend, and/or research assistantship awards. It is a need-blind process and is awarded based on the same factors that influence the admissions process. Need-based aid is administered through the University's central Office of Financial Aid (202-885-6103). At the graduate level, it generally takes the form of a federal low-interest loan package with a work-study option. All eligible and interested students should fill out the FAFSA form upon application to SIS to begin the need-based financial aid process; there is no need to wait until you have an admissions decision from SIS.

What percentage of incoming students receive merit-based financial aid? Is there a possibility that I could receive merit aid as a continuing student?
SIS merit awards are highly competitive; about 10-15% of incoming students receive merit-based aid from SIS. A few continuing students receive merit awards for the second year of their academic program, but the bulk of aid is awarded to incoming students.

What types of scholarships, grants, fellowship and financial aid are available for graduate students?

  • Merit-based financial aid is available to students with outstanding academic achievement. These awards are highly competitive and only 10-15% of SIS students receive them every year. There is no separate application for merit-based aid. Students who apply to the SIS graduate programs will be considered for all awards if all required components of their applications are received by the SIS Graduate Admissions Office by the deadline stated on the application. Students are automatically considered for merit awards if they have indicated on their application that they would like to be.
  • The types of merit-based financial aid SIS students usually receive are:
    1. SIS Graduate Assistantship Award: This award usually includes 18 credits of tuition remission per academic year (9 credits per semester), a monthly stipend (during regular semesters), and the opportunity to work with an SIS faculty member.
    2. SIS Dean’s Award: This award usually gives 12 credits of tuition remission (covering two thirds of tuition) per academic year. This award does not carry a stipend but does give students the opportunity to work with an SIS faculty member. 
    3. Hall of Nations Award: This award is only given to incoming international students who do not have U.S. permanent residency or citizenship status. This award typically includes 18 credits of tuition remission per academic year, a monthly stipend (during regular semesters), and the opportunity to work with an SIS faculty member.
    4. Special Opportunity Awards: This award is open to domestic minority students only and usually offers 12 credits of tuition remission (covering two thirds of tuition) per academic year. This award does not carry a stipend but does give students the opportunity to work with an SIS faculty member.

Is funding available for international students?
International students are eligible for a variety of AU- and SIS-sponsored financial aid, including the Hall of Nations Scholarship mentioned above and the Massey Foundation Awards. International students are also encouraged to search for additional sources of external funding. More Information on Financial Aid for International Students.

What are the acceptable forms of financial documents that international students have to submit?
As the second page of the PIIRF form suggests, these documents include, but are not limited to:

  • Official bank statement, stamped or signed by a bank official (no more than three months old),
  • Account summary or summary of liquid assets (no more than 3 months old),
  • I-134 affidavit of support, submitted by sponsor and accompanied by financial verification,
  • Scholarship letter from sponsoring organization outlining dates, amount, and terms of sponsorship, and
  • American University scholarship or graduate merit award letter (if you receive an award)

Pay stubs or tax return forms are not acceptable. For more information, please contact the International Student and Scholar Services at 202-885-3350.

These documents must be dated within the past three months. For example, if you submit your application on September 15th, these documents must be dated between June 15th and September 15th.