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College Affordability: AU and Your Educational Goals

Percent of Institutional Expenditures on Merit vs. Need

A Shift
in AU

Need-based aid more than doubled in 6 years

AU makes an extra effort to help you with financial aid

We understand that many families across the country are feeling uncertain about how to pay for college, and AU is here to help. Six years ago, in an effort to help make college more affordable 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 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) for federal aid consideration and the CSS PROFILE for institutional aid consideration, 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 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 the 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, and the United Methodist Scholarship, which provides partial tuition awards.
  • Other merit-based award options:
    AU offers a limited number of private, one-time scholarships that are funded annually or through an endowment by gifts from donors. 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 typically announced after the start of the fall semester. Awards range from $100 to $10,000 and are not renewable.

    Nationally competitive, merit-based scholarships also 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 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).

Financial Aid Facts to Be in the Know

  1. In academic year 2014-15, AU spent nearly $85 million to assist in meeting the financial needs of our undergraduate students.
  2. For the graduating class of 2014,*70% received some form of need and/or merit based financial aid.
  3. The 60% of loan borrowers at AU in the graduating class of 2014* 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.
  4. (40%) of the class of 2014* 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: FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: Nov. 15
Early Decision II: FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: Jan. 15
Regular Decision Freshman: FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: Jan. 15
Transfer: FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: May 1
Current (Continuing) AU Students: FAFSA: May 1

More about DEADLINES