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Merit awards exist primarily to provide opportunities for academic enrichment, as opposed to tuition relief. The Office of Financial Aid provides assistance to students who meet specific eligibility guidelines.

Search our National Scholarship Directory for merit award opportunities that fit your academic profile and aspirations. Be sure to note the type of application or nomination process required for each award, and pay close attention to application deadlines. Many awards demand up to a three-month commitment, and the more competitive awards often require a degree of work comparable to that of a three-credit course.

Application Procedures

University Nomination

The opportunity to compete for some prestigious awards, such as the Harry S. Truman Scholarship and Rhodes Scholarship, is limited to a few nominees per university. The Office of Merit Awards facilitates the process of selecting AU's nominees for each scholarship. To be considered, you must complete an application for nomination by the campus deadline for the award that interests you. Requests for applications are sent out in the fall and spring semesters, depending on the award. 

Other scholarships that require a university nomination include the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program, Killam Fellowship, Morris K. Udall Scholarship, and scholarships that fund graduate study in the United Kingdom, such as the George J. Mitchell Scholarship and the Marshall Scholarship. The campus nomination deadlines for the 2020-2021 academic year are found below.

Goldwater Scholarship: October 19, 2020

Killam Fellowship: November 5, 2020

Udall Scholarship: November 6, 2020

Gaither Junior Fellows Program: November 9, 2020

UK Awards (i.e., Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships): February 22, 2021

Truman Scholarship: March 15, 2021

*Note: Nomination applications are due by 10 a.m. EST for each deadline.

Independent Submission

Awards, such as the Pickering Foreign Affairs Scholarship and Critical Language Scholarship, allow students to apply directly to the sponsor. Merit Awards advisors are available to assist you with these applications through mentoring and online resources such as Blackboard.

Non-Independent Submission

Awards, such as the Fulbright Grant and Boren Scholarship, require students to apply through the Office of Merit Awards and require campus interviews. The number of applicants is not restricted. Campus deadlines for these awards usually occur a month before national deadlines.

Merit Awards Advising

We encourage you to identify scholarship possibilities on your own and to schedule an initial advising appointment to answer questions about specific award opportunities. Additionally, we offer intensive mentoring to help you to consider scholarship opportunities as part of a larger process of academic and career planning.

To request our help in preparing your application essays for any of the award types listed above, please contact us well in advance of your deadline. Call 202-885-1854 to schedule an appointment.