You are here: American University Financial Aid Freshman Scholarships and Merit Awards

What scholarships are available to first-year (freshman) students?

All admitted students, regardless of nationality, are considered for academic/merit scholarships for which they are eligible. In general, admitted students awarded scholarships have excellent academic credentials and exhibit exceptional leadership skills.

Most merit-based scholarships do not require an application for financial aid. However, we strongly encourage merit award candidates to complete the forms required for need-based aid, if they believe that they may need financial aid in addition to their merit award. Merit award recipients who have applied for need-based financial aid will be considered for any need-based aid for which they qualify beyond the amount of the merit award.

First-Year (Freshman) Merit Awards

The Admissions Committee makes all merit-based scholarship decisions and notifies students at the time they are admitted or shortly thereafter. Your admissions application is your application for a merit-based scholarship. No separate application is required for the following merit awards:

  • AU Presidential Scholarship
  • AU Deans' Scholarship
  • AU Leadership Scholarship
  • Frederick Douglass Scholarship

First-Year Student (Freshman) Merit Aid Basics

Who is eligible?

Eligible candidates demonstrate academic excellence and rank within the top 10 to 15 percent of AU's admitted students.

How much can I receive?

Scholarships range from $8,000 to $22,000.

How do I apply?

All students are considered on the basis of their admissions application; a separate application is required only for the FDDS and United Methodist scholarship.

Is it renewable?

Scholarships are renewable for up to eight semesters of undergraduate study provided that scholarship recipients remain enrolled full-time, and meet the annual Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements for merit scholarship renewal.

When will I be notified?

Freshmen receive notification at the time of admittance.


First-Year (Freshman) Scholarships

Some students may be eligible for the following scholarships. Requirements and application details are outlined below.

  • Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program

    Eligibility: Please visit the program's webpage for detailed information.

  • American University District Scholars Award

    American University is committed to helping students in the District of Columbia further their education after high school. To that end, AU has set aside $3 million to support high-achieving, low income students attending District of Columbia Public High School and District of Columbia Public Charter Schools with our AU District Scholars Award.

    The AU District Scholars Award will cover full tuition as well as room and board at AU. Ten scholarships will be awarded annually to deserving students who demonstrate academic achievement and significant financial need. Additional resources, up to the full cost of attendance will be provided on the basis of demonstrated financial need.

    To be considered, students must meet the following requirements:

    • Be a DC resident attending a DC Public or Public Charter High School

    • Apply for fall term admission to American University by posted application deadline

    • Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Profile

    • Demonstrate strong academic talent in high school

  • United Methodist Scholarship

    Eligibility: Children of an active, ordained Methodist minister. Applicants must submit a letter identifying themselves as the children of a Methodist minister. Contact Jennifer Baron Knowles, Kay Spiritual Life Center Assistant Director at or at 202-885-3321.

  • American University National Merit Scholarships

    To be considered for an AU sponsored National Merit Scholarship, students must be a National Merit Finalist and list AU as their first choice school by the NMSC published deadline. All finalists will receive $2,000, annually. This scholarship is renewable up to eight semesters if students maintain satisfactory academic progress. Questions about these sponsored awards should be directed to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation at (847) 866-5100 or by visiting the NMSC website.

    For more information about AU National Merit, you can also contact our National Merit Liaison, Christina Castiglione, at

  • Athletic Scholarships

    Eligibility: Outstanding freshman and transfer athletes. Contact Athletics at 202-885-3000.

  • Tuition Exchange Scholarships

    Tuition Exchange, Inc. is an organization with over 600 member schools that have come together to offer tuition benefits to the families of their employees. In order to qualify to apply for the Tuition Exchange Scholarship, students must have a parent that is employed at one of the member institutions and meets their employer's eligibility requirements.

    At American University, Tuition Exchange (TE) is a competitive, merit-based scholarship. To apply for the scholarship, parents of students applying to the university must contact their university's Tuition Exchange Liaison Officer (TELO). Their TELO will submit the application for TE on the family's behalf. The deadline to submit the TE application is the same as the admissions deadline your student is applying for:

    • Early Decision 1 freshman applicants: November 15

    • Early Decision 2 freshman applicants: January 15

    • Regular Decision freshman applicants: January 15

  • Tuition Exchange is a competitive scholarship based solely on academics. TE applicants are ranked based on high school academics and then the top students in that pool are chosen to receive the scholarship. Last year, 7% of students that applied for TE at American University received the award. For the 21-22 academic year the award is a set amount of $39,000 per year and is not a full tuition scholarship. The scholarship can be applied towards AU Abroad programs but will not cover summer semesters.

    Continuing students (students that have already been at AU for at least one year) are also allowed to apply for the scholarship year to year. The process for these students is the same as for freshman applicants except that the due date to apply is always January 15.

    Students that receive TE must meet the following qualifications to be recertified each year: 

  • a. Maintain eligibility at their home institution and submit the recertification application by January 15th of each academic year.

  • b. Take at least 12 credits every semester.

  • c. Meet the annual Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements for merit scholarship renewal.

  • Failure to meet these requirements will result in loss of the scholarship.

    For more information about Tuition Exchange please refer to the Tuition Exchange website or contact our Tuition Exchange Liaison, Christina Castiglione, at

  • For AU employees that are hoping to apply to use Tuition Exchange at other schools, please contact Catherine Anyaso, Manager of Tuition Benefits and Financials at

  • Restricted/Endowed Awards

    AU is fortunate to have a number of annual and endowed scholarships that are funded by generous donors. Scholarships vary by school and may be based on merit, academic program, need or other factors as designated by the donor.