FAQ - Budget

Fall 2021


When can I take the employee furlough?

Employees will work with their managers to choose the unpaid days. All 5 days must be taken between November 1, 2020 and April 9, 2021. They do not have to be taken consecutively. Employees can take any “paid” workday, including holidays and the holiday break week, as a furlough day. During the 5 unpaid days, employees will not work in any capacity.

What is the impact on my paycheck?

The reduction in compensation will appear in employee paychecks (biweekly or monthly) over a three-month period January – March 2021. The amount will be equally spread across each pay period. There was not a reduction in November or December 2020 paychecks. This is a temporary measure. It does not reflect a permanent salary reduction. Employees will receive a personal notification outlining this short-term adjustment to their compensation for the unpaid days in FY 2021. The 5 unpaid days represent approximately 2% of an employee’s base annual salary. The 5 unpaid days do not accrue and must be accounted for in full. For example, if an employee leaves American University during this period, the remaining unpaid days will be deducted in the employee’s paycheck before their departure.

Employees earning $40,000 per year or less as of June 19, 2020 (the initial announcement of the furlough) will not be subject to the furlough. The June effective date is to protect any employees who previously earned $40,000 per year or less but because of merit increases moved above the threshold.

Additional guidance will be forthcoming for H1-B eligible employees, term faculty, employees fully funded by external grants, individuals with early retirement contracts, and certain other categories.

How will the university/departments/managers keep key functions operating?

Departments and managers will ensure coverage of mission critical work and address any emergencies that may require an employee to work on an unpaid day. Managers will collect the preferred days from each employee, assess overall coverage in their department, and work with individual employees to address any gaps that may arise.

What happens if I have to work during the furlough?

Departments and managers will ensure coverage of mission critical work and address any emergencies that may require an employee to work on an unpaid day. If such an emergency arises, arrangements will be made for the employee to take the unpaid day at another time. Employees may contact employeerelations@american.edu if situations arise where they may feel obligated or pressured to work on an unpaid day without an emergency situation.

Will there be another furlough?

AU maintained financial discipline and we are on track with our FY 2021 budget mitigations and projections to-date. As a result, we have no plans for further university-wide furloughs, barring any unforeseen circumstances. If we can sustain spring enrollments and remain vigilant in our expense savings, we will be on track to restore the university’s matching retirement contributions and fund annual merit increases for faculty and staff in FY 2022 (which begins in July 2021).

Fall 2021

What are tuition levels for fall 2021?

Tuition and housing costs will return to the original levels set in the FY 2021 budget, which can be found on page 17 of the budget report. Full-time undergraduate tuition will be $50,542, and graduation tuition will be $1,812 per credit hour.

Why is the 10 percent discount no longer being offered?

The 10 percent AU Community of Care tuition discount provided financial assistance as students and families addressed the economic impact of COVID-19. As we begin to transition to the post-COVID world, tuition levels will return to the levels originally set for fall 2020. We are pleased to avoid any tuition increase this year, which supports our students and families.

Will this decision impact financial aid?

No, financial aid will not be affected.

Will student fees continue to be discounted?

Student fees for fall 2021 are still being determined.

What will meal plan costs be for fall 2021?

Meal plan costs will increase by 3.5 percent, with the exception of EagleBucks only plans, which will remain the same price.

Will the FY 2022 budget continue the hiring freeze, suspension of university retirement contributions, and other cost saving measures?

We planned on a two-year financial impact from COVID-19, and we remain on our intended trajectory. While we will need to continue with some of the financial mitigation measures we put in place this year, this ongoing work supports our path to resuming university contributions to employee retirement plans and the annual merit pool in the next fiscal year. Additionally, we are not planning further COVID-related furloughs in the budget.

Will services be reduced or impacted by the FY 2022 budget?

The FY 2022 budget is a one-year continuation, meaning that most spending levels remain at FY 2021 levels. Student services will continue to be funded and investments are being made in strategic priorities, such as Title IX and lifelong learning. Further budget details will be released in the coming weeks.

Will the resumption of the merit process cover the last two years?  

If we remain on track to resume the merit process, the final merit pool will be determined later this year. As we work through this process in the coming months, we will provide additional updates.

Will the hiring freeze end in July?

The hiring freeze will continue as part of the ongoing cost savings. Departments can seek exemptions for specific positions, and targeted hires for university strategic priorities will proceed. We understand the challenges created for our faculty and staff, and are working with departments and leadership to provide support to our teams.

If enrollment levels are below budget, does mean merit and retirement contributions will not resume?

We will continue to manage the overall budget picture as we proceed through the enrollment cycle. We are hopeful that we will reach our enrollment targets as we continue engaging with prospective and current students and planning for in-person activity in the fall. Further developments on the merit and retirement processes will take place in the coming months and we will provide updates to the community when new information becomes available.

Will faculty and staff have the opportunity to provide input into fall plans?

Yes, there are ongoing engagement with our community. This includes the upcoming webinars with students, faculty, and staff. We will also work with the Faculty Senate and the Staff Council as we develop the fall plans and provide additional avenues for faculty and staff to provide input. In addition, individual departments and schools will work with their teams to collect feedback, discuss specific operations and questions, and provide updates about their respective aspects of the fall plans.