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

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 sponsor the Payne 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 SPA’s $65 application fee will be waived.

Financial Award
Admitted Payne Fellows will receive an attractive financial package. The SPA Merit Award in combination with the Fellowship annual tuition remission and stipend will guarantee full tuition 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 and donor-funded scholarships, and will be prioritized for merit based aid consideration. The level of the SPA Merit Award for Payne finalists will be determined based on competitive rank in the admitted student pool for the term of entry.
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 $30,000.

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 $30,000.

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

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.

A Community Care discount of 10% and a waiver or reduction of some student fees have been implemented for Fall 2020. Please note the discounted tuition rates and student fees in the tables below.

Your tuition costs and fees are customized based on the total number of credits you enroll in each term. Tuition is calculated on a per-credit basis and based on 2020-2021 rates of $1,812 per credit hour. Full-time graduate students pay $351 and part-time students pay $100 in fees each semester.

For further details, please review the 2020-2021 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.

A typical part-time student enrolls in six credits per fall and spring semester each academic year. A typical full-time student enrolls in nine 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.

Estimated Semester Tuition Costs Fall 2020*

Estimated Tuition per Credit & Mandatory Student Fees for Fall 2020

Tuition per Credit

$1,637

Mandatory student fees for full-time enrollment

$278.50

Mandatory student fees for part-time enrollment

$62.50

Estimated Tuition Costs Fall 2020
  Tuition Fees Total

3 credits ($1,631 per credit*)

$4,893

$62.50

$4,955.50

6 credits ($1,631 per credit*)

$9,786

$62.50

$9,848.50

9 credits ($1,631 per credit*)

$14,679

$278.50

$14,957.50

*Reflects the Community Care discount on tuition for Fall 2020 only.

SPA Mandatory Fees Fall 2020*

Mandatory Fees Fall 2020
  Full-Time (9 Credit Hours and Above) Part-Time
Sports Center Fee

Waived

Waived

Grad Activity Fee

$22.50

$22.50

Student Technology Fee

$120.00

$40.00

Metro U-Pass

N/A for Fall 2020

N/A

*Reflects the waiver or reduction of fees for Fall 2020 only.

Estimated Semester Tuition Costs Spring 2021

Estimated Tuition per Credit & Mandatory Student Fees for Spring 2021

Tuition per Credit

$1,812

Mandatory student fees for full-time enrollment

$351

Mandatory student fees for part-time enrollment

$100

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 2021

Mandatory Fees Spring 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 Summer 2021

Estimated Tuition per Credit & Mandatory Student Fees for Summer 2021

Tuition per Credit

$1,812

Mandatory student fees for full-time enrollment

$351

Mandatory student fees for part-time enrollment

$100

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 Summer 2021

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

$0.00

$0.00

Grad Activity Fee

$0.00

$0.00

Student Technology Fee

$0.00

$0.00

Metro U-Pass

N/A

N/A

Estimated Non-Tuition Expenses (2020-2021)*

Estimated Non-Tuition Expenses*
  Expenses
Room and Board (off campus)

$19,250

Books and Supplies

$1,100

Transportation

$1,400

Personal Expenses

$1,450

Student Health Insurance**

$1,952

*Please note that these expenses, based on 2020-2021 rates, are discretionary for students and are included here to assist you in budgeting.

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

Both part-time and full-time students may apply for need-based assistance, although only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for federal need-based aid. To apply for student loans, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the American University deadline. American University's FAFSA code is 001434. SPA applicants should contact American University's Office of Financial Aid at facounselor@american.edu or 202.885.6500 to learn more about federal financial aid and student loan options.

We strongly recommend that you complete the FAFSA online, but if you do not have Internet access, you may schedule an appointment with the American University Office of Financial Aid to complete the form electronically there, or submit a paper form if you prefer. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid to find out what information you will need to bring with you.

AU's Financial Aid office also maintains a comprehensive list of private loans and scholarships.

Questions/Concerns regarding SPA’s merit aid options may be directed to spagrad@american.edu or 202.885.6230.

As a nationally ranked School of Public Affairs, SPA attracts the best and brightest students from across the globe to its seven traditional master's degrees. The School's applicants demonstrate impressive records of academic performance and a demonstrated commitment to public service. Our approach to merit aid allocation is to offer a variety of partial tuition assistance awards to a broad base of highly qualified master's degree candidates. Merit aid awards are limited and prioritize strong, admitted—domestic and international—candidates who meet priority deadlines. 

SPA merit awards are typically renewable based on satisfactory academic progress and performance. Merit aid is awarded to students using traditional indicators such as GPA, strength of recommendation letters, extra-/co-curricular involvements, and professional experience. Prospective students' application files are the basis for award decisions; no additional application is required for consideration.

Prospective students are compared/contrasted to other applicants within the current enrollment cycle's (Fall or Spring) applicant pool to determine award levels and to ensure consistency. SPA merit awards include assistantships, scholarships and, most often, tuition remission. Priority deadlines for first round merit award consideration are February 15 for Fall and November 1 for Spring admission.

  • SPA Tuition Remission
    The most common type of merit aid award is an offset of tuition costs. SPA prides itself in a deliberate strategy of examining the strength of the applicant pool for any given matriculation term (Fall or Spring) and offering tuition remission awards to strong, admitted students within the applicant pool in order to assist students with the cost of tuition. Most common are awards that “pay for the tuition costs for one class a semester” for four consecutive terms of full-time (9 credits) enrollment. This is a value that exceeds $20,000.
  • SPA Assistantships
    Graduate assistantships are awarded to admitted students based on an alignment of skills, experience, and/or interests that would serve SPA faculty, research institutes, centers, and administrative operations. Graduate Assistantship (GA) positions normally require 10- 20 hours of work per week and offer a stipend amount that ranges from $2,250 to $4,500 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 $100 to $10,000.
  • Affiliations & Sponsorships
    SPA prides itself in recognizing priority affiliations of strong, admitted students. A partial listing of the “sponsored” and/or “priority” merited programs include Rangel, Pickering, and PPIA Fellows, Returned 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 will be offered 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. We're here to help!

78 percent of Fall 2020 admitted students received merit aid

Still Have Questions?

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