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    Jun 23, 2024  
American University Catalog 2023-2024 
American University Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduate Financial Aid

American University provides a variety of options to assist graduate students in financing their AU education to include:

William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) Unsubsidized Loan
William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) Graduate PLUS Loan
Federal Work Study
Federal TEACH Grant
American Installment Plans

For more information, contact Financial Aid at

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Recipients of Federal (Title IV) or institutional funds must maintain minimum satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards to retain eligibility for financial assistance.

Minimum Standards

  • Graduate financial aid recipients must maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and complete two-thirds (66.67 percent) of all attempted credit hours
  • All students must complete their academic program within the maximum timeframe of that academic program as defined in the Academic Regulations
  • Merit-based scholarship recipients may have different standards than those listed above. Please refer to the original award notification regarding merit award eligibility criteria

Special Considerations

The following alternative grading options do not count toward the grade point average but do have an impact on students’ satisfactory academic progress:

  • Withdrawals (W), Administrative Withdrawals (ZL), Audits (L), and Fails on Pass/Fail option (FZ) count as credits attempted but not completed, and have no impact on the grade point average
  • Incompletes (I) and Unreported Grades (N) count as attempted credits but not completed
  • Administrative Failures (ZX or FX) count as credits attempted but not completed, and are factored as a grade of F
  • ​C-, D and F grades count as attempted but not completed
  • ​Pass (P) counts as credits attempted and completed, but has no impact on the grade point average
  • In Progress (IP) courses are excluded from the calculation in the initial academic progress evaluation. An IP grade may not stand as a permanent grade and must be resolved before a degree can be awarded

Frequency of Monitoring

An audit of each student’s academic progress is conducted annually in June. Financial Aid will send written notification to students who are not maintaining satisfactory progress.

Academic Appeals

All academic questions and appeals must be directed to the student’s respective academic department(s). The Financial Aid Office has no authority to alter the academic record of a student.

Re-Establishing Financial Aid Eligibility

Students who have failed to maintain the minimum satisfactory academic progress standards may re-establish eligibility for financial aid funds by: the changing of a grade; the completion of incomplete or in progress course(s); or, the reporting of a missing grade. Students failing SAP due to the maximum timeframe provision may provide a copy of the approved extension of candidacy from the academic division to re-establish eligibility. Please note that funds are limited, even if the appeal is granted, funds may not be available.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals

Students who are not meeting the SAP requirements for aid eligibility will be notified in writing of the loss of aid eligibility. Students with extenuating circumstances may submit an appeal in writing to the Financial Aid Office to request a reinstatement of financial aid. Appeals will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The appeal letter must include a written description and explanation of the following:

  1. The extenuating circumstances that prevented the student from meeting the SAP requirements.
  2. Course of action or change in situation that will allow them to make satisfactory progress at the next evaluation. In certain cases, the appeal letter should include supporting documentation to prove that the extenuating circumstances occurred. For example, if the extenuating circumstances were an illness, then the student would attach a note from a medical provider confirming the illness took place, that treatment was/is under way, and that the student is now able to return successfully to school. In addition, AU may require an academic plan to show how the student will continue to make SAP while they are on probation.

Refund and Repayment Policy

See Refunds and Cancellation of Charges  for information on American University’s tuition, housing, and meal plan refund policies.

The American University refund policy does not apply to first-time American University students. A “first-time student” is defined in Federal regulations as any student who has not attended at least one class at American University, or who received a full refund for previous attendance at American University.

Federal (Title IV) Financial Aid Recipients Return of Title IV Funds Policy

Federal regulations require that students, who take a temporary leave, withdraw, are dismissed, or separate from the institution prior to completing 60 percent of a payment period or term be subject to recalculation of their federal aid.

If a student leaves the institution prior to completing 60 percent of a payment period or term, the Financial Aid Office must recalculate eligibility for Title IV funds. Recalculation is based on the percentage of earned aid using the following Federal Return of Title IV funds formula:

Percentage of payment period or term completed = the number of days completed up to the withdrawal date divided by the total days in the payment period or term. (Any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term.) This percentage is also the percentage of earned aid.

Funds are returned to the appropriate federal program based on the percentage of unearned aid using the following formula:

Aid to be returned = (100 percent of the aid that could be disbursed minus the percentage of earned aid) multiplied by the total amount of aid that could have been disbursed during the payment period or term.

If a student earned less aid than was disbursed, the institution would be required to return a portion of the funds and the student would be required to return a portion of the funds. When Title IV funds are returned, the student borrower may owe a debit balance to the institution.

If a student earned more aid than was disbursed to him or her, the institution would owe the student a post-withdrawal disbursement which must be paid within 120 days of the student’s withdrawal. The institution must return the amount of Title IV funds for which it is responsible no later than 30 days after the date of the determination of the date of the student’s withdrawal.

Refunds are allocated in the following order:

  • William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) Unsubsidized Loans (other than PLUS Loans)
  • William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) Subsidized Loans
  • William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) PLUS Loans
  • Federal Pell Grants for which a return of funds is required
  • Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants for which a return of funds is required
  • Federal TEACH Grants
  • Other assistance under Title IV for which a return of funds is required (e.g., LEAP)

Federal Aid

Students must complete and file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before federal aid eligibility can be determined. To qualify for federal aid, graduate students must be:

  • a US citizen or permanent resident
  • enrolled in an eligible degree-granting academic program
  • enrolled at least half-time each semester (5 credits fall/spring; 2 credits summer)

Graduate students who qualify for William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) loans may borrow up to $20,500 every two semesters (or every three terms for students attending on the four-term calendar.) Federal loans must be re-paid. Repayment will begin six months after graduation or after dropping below half-time status. Federal interest rates are established annually but will not exceed 8.25% on federal student loans. Please contact Financial Aid for current interest rates.

Students who require additional assistance beyond the $20,500 offered through the William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) Unsubsidized Loan program may elect to cover any remaining educational expenses through the William D. Ford Federal Direct (Stafford) Graduate PLUS Loan program.

American University Programs

Graduate Merit-Based Awards

American University is committed to quality graduate education that is responsive to the needs of students, disciplines, the university, and the larger community. Our goals are to provide a high-quality educational experience for our students and to offer graduate support that assists students in completing their programs of study. To this end the university has set priorities for the allocation and awarding of graduate assistantships and fellowships.

Graduate Fellowships are merit-based awards that the university offers in order to attract the most outstanding students in the discipline. These awards are given to graduate degree students and may provide the recipient tuition remission in degree-related courses in a given academic year and/or provide a stipend. The tuition remission should be used during the academic year but may, with the permission of the awarding academic unit, be used during the summer session.

Students should contact their respective school or college’s graduate admissions office for merit award application deadlines. Merit awards include fellowships, assistantships, and study grants.

Designated Awards

Other designated awards, such as the United Methodist Graduate Scholarship, the Hart A. Massey Fellowship, and the Adel Ait-Ghezala Graduate Research Fellowship are distributed annually by the Office of Graduate & Professional Studies .