Financing Your Education

The School of Public Affairs understands that financing your education can be a challenge, which is why we offer multiple sources of financial support to eligible graduate students. Merit awards and donor-funded scholarships are administered by the School of Public Affairs' Office of Graduate Admissions. Need-based awards are administered by the American University Office of Financial Aid. There are also a variety of awards designated directly from American University and many opportunities from external sources. In addition, we support our nation's service members and their dependents through generous veterans benefits.

Our Office of Graduate Admissions is always available to applicants interested in learning more about planning for this important investment in your future. Please contact us at 202-885-6230 or spagrad@american.edu with questions.

SPA Affiliate Program Fellowships

Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows

Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

The Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program supports returned Peace Corps volunteers to continue their dedication to community service while pursuing a master's degree at the AU School of Public Affairs. Peace Corps volunteers who have served at least 12 months-either consecutively or through a combination of tours-are also eligible for the Coverdell Fellows Program. SPA's Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program contributes to the civic and service needs of the community at large through an innovative collaboration between SPA and the Peace Corps.
Learn More

For more information, email SPAGrad@american.edu or call 202-855-6230.

USAID Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship

SPA Application & Admission
SPA is proud to support the Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program. SPA has a rolling admissions process and welcomes applications from Payne Fellows (and finalists) by the priority deadline of February 15. Payne Fellows (and finalists) should indicate their status on the electronic application when prompted and an application fee waiver code will be offered so Finalists/Fellows may apply for free.

Financial Award
Admitted Payne Fellows will receive an attractive financial package. The SPA Merit Award in combination with the Fellowship support will guarantee full tuition and fee coverage for a fully enrolled Fellow in SPA’s Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), M.S. in Justice, Law & Criminology, M.S. in Terrorism & Homeland Security Policy, M.A. in Political Science, or M.A. in Political Communication. Payne Fellows are also eligible for consideration for graduate assistantships. With this, the total SPA Merit Award for a Payne Fellow could range from $22,000 to nearly $40,000.

Upon admission, the SPA Merit Award for Payne finalists will be determined based on the academic, co-curricular, and professional credentials presented in their application.
Learn More

For more information, email SPAGrad@american.edu or call 202-855-6230.

Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship

SPA Application & Admission
SPA is proud to serve as a school partner for the Pickering Fellowship Program. SPA has a rolling admissions process and welcomes applications from Pickering Fellows (and finalists) by the priority deadline of February 15. Pickering Fellows (and finalists) should indicate their status on the electronic application when prompted and an application fee waiver code will be offered so Finalists/Fellows may apply for free.

Financial Award
Admitted Pickering Fellows will receive an attractive financial package. The SPA Merit Award in combination with the Fellowship’s annual tuition remission and stipend will guarantee full tuition and fee coverage for a fully enrolled Fellow in SPA’s Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), M.S. in Justice, Law & Criminology, M.S. in Terrorism & Homeland Security Policy, M.A. in Political Science, or M.A. in Political Communication. Pickering Fellows are also eligible for consideration for graduate assistantships. With this, the total SPA Merit Award for a Pickering Fellow could range from $20,000 to nearly $40,000.

Upon admission, the SPA Merit Award for Pickering finalists will be determined based on the academic, co-curricular, and professional credentials presented in their application.

Learn More

For more information, email SPAGrad@american.edu or call 202-855-6230.

Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program

SPA Application & Admission
SPA is proud to serve as a school partner for the Rangel International Affairs Program. SPA has a rolling admissions process and welcomes applications from Rangel Fellows (and finalists) by the priority deadline of February 15. Rangel Fellows (and finalists) should indicate their status on the electronic application when prompted and an application fee waiver code will be offered so Finalists/Fellows may apply for FREE.

Financial Award
Admitted Rangel Fellows will receive an attractive financial package. The SPA Merit Award in combination with the Fellowship’s annual tuition remission and stipend will guarantee full tuition and fee coverage for a fully enrolled Fellow in SPA’s Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), M.S. in Justice, Law & Criminology, M.S. in Terrorism & Homeland Security Policy, M.A. in Political Science, or M.A. in Political Communication. Rangel Fellows are also eligible for consideration for graduate assistantships. With this, the total SPA Merit Award for a Rangel Fellow could range from $20,000 to nearly $40,000.

Upon admission, the SPA Merit Award for Rangel finalists will be determined based on the academic, co-curricular, and professional credentials presented in their application.

Learn More

For more information, email SPAGrad@american.edu or call 202-855-6230.

Institutional Partnerships

Current AmeriCorps volunteers and alumni who are admitted to an SPA’s master’s degree programs (on-campus, online or Executive) will be offered an application fee waiver code so they may apply for free and upon completing their application by the priority deadline (February 15-Fall entry or November 1-Spring entry) and gaining admission will receive a guaranteed scholarship that matches the Segal Education Award up to the $6000 threshold (only one match per student is available). Priority, admitted AmeriCorps volunteers and alumni will also be considered for other merit aid opportunities and, if awarded, will be extended the greater between the two (the Segal Education Award match or SPA Merit Award). Questions may be directed to spagrad@american.edu.

Full-time Washington Post employees, spouses, or dependents admitted to any of SPA’s residential, master’s degree programs are eligible for at least $10,000 in merit aid over the course of their program.

Tuition costs and student fees are customized based on the total number of credits you enroll in each semester/term. A typical full-time student enrolls in nine credits per fall and spring semester each academic year. A typical part-time student enrolls in six credits per fall and spring semester each academic year. Students in most of SPA’s degree programs also have the option to enroll in summer courses.

Tuition is calculated on a per-credit basis and based on 2021-2022 rates of $1,812 per credit hour. Full-time graduate students pay $351 and part-time students pay $100 in fees each semester. There are no student fees assessed in the Summer.

For further details, please review the 2021-2022 academic year tuition and fee schedule. International Students should always refer to the International Student Cost Guide for Graduate Programs offered by International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) at American University.

Estimated Semester Tuition Costs Fall 2021

Estimated Tuition Costs Summer 2021
  Tuition Fees Total

3 credits ($1,812 per credit)

$5,436

$100

$5,536

6 credits ($1,812 per credit)

$10,872

$100

$10,972

9 credits ($1,812 per credit)

$16,308

$351

$16,659

SPA Mandatory Fees Fall 2021

Mandatory Fees Fall 2021
  Full-Time (9 Credit Hours and Above) Part-Time
Sports Center Fee

$65.00

$30.00

Grad Activity Fee

$30.00

$30.00

Student Technology Fee

$120.00

$40.00

Metro U-Pass

$136.00

N/A

Estimated Semester Tuition Costs Spring 2022

Estimated Tuition Costs Spring 2021
  Tuition Fees Total

3 credits ($1,812 per credit)

$5,436

$100

$5,536

6 credits ($1,812 per credit)

$10,872

$100

$10,972

9 credits ($1,812 per credit)

$16,308

$351

$16,659

SPA Mandatory Fees Spring 2022

Mandatory Fees Spring 2022
  Full-Time (9 Credit Hours and Above) Part-Time
Sports Center Fee

$65.00

$30.00

Grad Activity Fee

$30.00

$30.00

Student Technology Fee

$120.00

$40.00

Metro U-Pass

$136.00

N/A

Estimated Indirect Costs (2021-2022)*

Estimated Indirect Costs (2021-2022)*
Estimated Indirect Costs* Expenses
Room and Board (off campus)

$24,936

Books and Supplies

$1,615

Transportation (Reminder: Full-time students have access to the Metro U-Pass option in the Fall and Spring semesters)

$2,229

Personal Expenses

$1,933

Student Health Insurance**

$1,952

*Please note that these expenses, based on 2021-2022 rates include estimates for indirect costs that cover the Fall and Spring semesters, as well as Summer terms. These estimates are highly variable and discretionary based on personal lifestyle choices.

**For more information on student health insurance options, including premiums, enrollment, and waivers, please visit the AU Student Health Insurance website.

SPA realizes that students do not want to have to consider taking out loans of any kind or amount. This said, for domestic students pursuing a professional degree, this is an important source of funding to consider in financing their graduate degree.

Both full-time and part-time students may apply for Federal and Grad Plus loans, although only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for federal aid. To apply for student loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). American University's FAFSA code is 001434. Following the FAFSA submission, the Office of Financial Aid (OFA) at American University will process your FAFSA and notify you of your Federal loan eligibility. Most often, a graduate student will qualify for $20,500 in Federal loans for their first year of graduate study. SPA applicants should contact OFA at financialaid@american.edu or 202.885.6500 with any questions about the Federal loan eligibility and disbursement process.

Grad Plus loans are credit-based and are often used to cover any balance that remains after a student applies all other sources of funding (i.e., Federal loans, merit aid awards) to the cost of attendance (tuition, student fees, and related educational expenses). Apply by completing the Graduate Plus Loan Application available at www.studentaid.govSPA applicants should contact OFA at financialaid@american.edu or 202.885.6500 with any questions about applying for a Grad Plus loan.

 

 

The SPA merit aid allocation process is initiated each semester (Spring or Fall) following the priority deadline (November 1 or February 15). Award notifications are separate and distinct from admissions decisions. An admitted student’s application file is used as the basis for consideration. There is no separate application required to be considered for all types of SPA merit awards (see descriptions below). Admitted students—domestic and international-- are compared/contrasted within the current entry term’s (Spring or Fall) pool to determine consistent and equitable award levels. Admitted students should keep in mind that awards are based on merit (not need) and are determined based on academic, co- and extra-curricular, and, at times, professional credentials as well as a demonstrated commitment to public service. SPA does not award full funding to any admitted, master’s student.

SPA merit awards have appealing characteristics:

  • Renewability (Merit award recipients may renew their awards as long as a 3.0 cumulative GPA is maintained and the student makes satisfactory academic progress toward their degree program.); and
  • Flexibility (Merit award recipients support both full- (7-9 credits) and part-time (6 credits) enrollment and may be applied for four, and even, five consecutive semesters, including Summer).

SPA offers the following types of merit aid awards:

  • SPA Tuition Remission
    The most common type of SPA merit aid award is partial tuition remission. SPA extends customized tuition remission awards of varying levels that offer a merit aid recipient a great deal of flexibility in how they are applied. SPA’s tuition remission awards offer values that vary based on full- (7-9 credits) or part-time (6 credits) enrollment and enable a recipient to apply the award value in four or even five consecutive semesters, including Summer terms.
  • SPA Graduate Assistantships
    Graduate assistantships are awarded to admitted students based on an alignment of skills, experience, and/or interests that will support SPA faculty, research institutes and centers, and administrative operations. Graduate Assistantship (GA) positions require ten (10) or twenty (20) hours of work per week and are paid via a stipend that ranges from $2,400 to $4,800 per semester.
  • Endowed Scholarship Awards
    A limited number of private AU scholarships are funded annually or through an endowment by gifts from donors. Eligible admitted students 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 range from $1000 to $10,000.
  • Affiliations & Sponsorships
    SPA prides itself in recognizing a number of priority affiliations of strong, admitted students. A partial listing of the “sponsored” and/or “priority” merited programs include Rangel, Pickering, Payne, and PPIA Fellows, Returning Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), McNair Scholars, Florida A&M University (FAMU), HCBUs, HSIs, First Generation College, AmeriCorps, Teach for America (TFA), and Bonner Scholars. Most often, candidates with priority affiliations are extended an application fee waiver and priority merit aid consideration.

Still Have Questions?
Please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions (OGA) at 202-885-6230 or spagrad@american.edu.

80 percent of Fall 2021 admitted students received merit aid

Still Have Questions?

Please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions (OGA) at 202-885-6230 or spaapp@american.edu. We're here to help!