Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 75.35
Liaison Megan Litke
Submission Date March 30, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

American University
PA-8: Affordability and Access

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.35 / 4.00 Hannah Debelius
Sustainability Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have policies and programs in place to make it accessible and affordable to low-income students?:

A brief description of any policies and programs to minimize the cost of attendance for low-income students:

Through targeted awarding practices the financial aid office is able to assist low income students and families in defraying the cost of an AU education. Possible help includes federal grants, AU grants, and scholarships such as the Frederick Douglas Scholars Program.

AU also works with financing options of federal loans, alternative credit based loans, and a prepaid tuition plan allowing for advanced payment of tuition locking in the first year tuition rate.

A brief description of any programs to equip the institution’s faculty and staff to better serve students from low-income backgrounds:

Human Resources offers a training titled "Valuing Diversity": The differences people bring to the workplace can promote tremendous creativity and innovation. Those same differences, however, also can contribute to misunderstandings as we bump up against each other with our different styles and work ethics. This course creates awareness of how to recognize and appreciate differences leading to more options and better problem solving.

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) offers a workshop for the AU community entitled "Paving the Way: Working with First Generation College Students" which provides an overview of common challenges facing first-generation college students. Participants increase their awareness of this growing population at AU and receive helpful strategies to better understand and support these students as it relates to their work.

Through the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the AU community is invited to the "Unmasking Your Privilege" workshop. Through this workshop, participants will develop a better understanding of their own multiple identities, explore personal experiences they have had with privilege and oppression. Participants will have the opportunity to critically evaluate how we are socialized to adopt beliefs that maintain harmful attitudes and behaviors in U.S. society.

A brief description of any programs to prepare students from low-income backgrounds for higher education:

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) offers a series of workshops and training for first generation students, including:

CDI's professional development workshop, Paving the Way: Working with First-Generation College Students.
CDI's First Generation Workshop connecting students with faculty and staff who were also first generation to go to college in their family
CDI's monthly First-Generation Focus e-newsletter and to "get tips to make the most out of your experience."
Pertnerships with financial aid and the career center to serve first generation students.

A brief description of the institution's scholarships for low-income students:

The Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research has graduate assistantship programs for masters and PhD students for underrepresented minorities. One is the "Hall of Nations" which specifically supports international students; another is the "Special Opportunity Program" which supports minority students from the US.http://www.american.edu/spa/admissions/tuition.cfm

The Frederick Douglass Scholarship

The Scholarship promotes educational access and opportunity while enhancing educational diversity. Bringing together the best of AU—academic excellence, leadership development and international engagement—Frederick Douglass Scholars inspire, encourage and expect high achievement. Together, they are AU's premier academic community for enterprising students dedicated to careers in social justice and improving under-resourced, underserved communities around the world.

As of Fall 2015, fifteen students are attending the university as Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars. The scholarship provides full tuition, room and board and is renewable for a total of four years of undergraduate study, provided scholars satisfy academic performance requirements.

Preference is given to first-generation students as well as those from diverse ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

A brief description of any programs to guide parents of low-income students through the higher education experience:

Parents and students can sign up for a the First-Generation Focus e-newsletter to get the latest and greatest on tips to make the most out of the college experience and stay connected with the AU firs-gen community.

Financial Aid offers resource links and staff to support navigating the process of paying for college using loans and federal grants.

The Counseling Center offers resources and support directly to parents of all students to address academic and social concerns: http://www.american.edu/ocl/counseling/Support-for-Parents.cfm

A brief description of any targeted outreach to recruit students from low-income backgrounds:

Admission and Financial Aid participate in school visits and present financial aid workshops to local DC public Schools such as SEED Public Charter School.

Admission also offers online recruitment events to engage students and parents who are not able to visit campus in person.

A brief description of other admissions policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

The Office of Admissions offers resources about admissions and financial aid in Spanish in addition to the other resources, workshops, and financial resources listed.

American University accepts the Common Application and will waive the $70 processing fee with a fee waiver obtainable from a high school counselor.

A brief description of other financial aid policies or programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students:

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. In AY 2014-2015, 71% of the institutional expenditures were for need versus Merit, part of the trend to increase that percentage.

The Financial Aid Office created an annual financial literacy workshop focused on all aspects of money management including debt and budget planning.

Tuition Payment Plan Options: American University offers the American Payment Plan (APP) to all students as an alternative to paying your bill in full at the start of each term. The plan splits your Fall or Spring semester balance into convenient monthly payments, with no interest charged. By budgeting ahead for the upcoming term's charges, you may be able to reduce the amount of loans needed for the school year.

Reaching Out to Those in Need: AU has established an Emergency Financial Aid Fund to ensure that students whose situations change significantly are able to continue their studies through to graduation, despite financial challenges they may face on the way.


A brief description of other policies and programs to make the institution accessible and affordable to low-income students not covered above:

Does the institution have policies and programs in place to support non-traditional students?:

A brief description of any scholarships provided specifically for part-time students:

All graduate school merit scholarships are applicable to part time and full time students.

There are scholarships available to part time undergraduate students as part of the "restricted" scholarship funding.

A brief description of any onsite child care facilities, partnerships with local facilities, and/or subsidies or financial support to help meet the child care needs of students:

AU offers support for students who need to take time off of school to assist sick children.

AU Child Development Center -Factulty, Staff, and Students can utilize the benefits of this center. The CDC provides high-quality education and care for children 2-1/2 to 6 years of age. Their core mission is to offer a developmentally appropriate educational program for pre-school children, while supporting the family unit within the campus community, as well as the overall educational mission of the university.

The CDC provides primary family caregivers within the AU community opportunities to pursue a university education or career; support for their families with a high-quality child care; as well as an educational experience for university students interested in early childhood education and parenting. http://www.american.edu/hr/CDC/about.cfm

A brief description of other policies and programs to support non-traditional students:

The STANDwithAU initiative across all of AU campus life is dedicated to strengthening the culture of respect and integrity. "We are American University. We believe any act of violence, bullying, hate, abuse, rape, or harassment is one too many. When our culture of integrity, respect, and support is threatened, we do not stand by passively. We stand together and help." This initiative is a media and social campaign to address issues of sexual violence and discrimination based on gender, race, and sexual orientation, creating a safer and more inclusive space for students of all backgrounds.

In Fall 2016, the Office of Campus Life offered a workshop dialog entitled "THE YOU THAT YOU CREATE: PERSONAL STORIES OF IDENTITY, DIFFERENCE & POWER" which addressed how people experience the effects of race, class, dis/ability, gender, and sexual identities. The event opened with AU faculty talking with each other about their journeys through life using the lens of identity, difference, and power. The discussion then turned from these life experiences to audience comments, stories, and questions.

Does the institution wish to pursue Part 2 of this credit (accessibility and affordability indicators)?:

Indicators that the institution is accessible and affordable to low-income students::
Percentage (0-100)
The percentage of entering students that are low-income 20
The graduation/success rate for low-income students 75
The percentage of student financial need met, on average ---
The percentage of students graduating with no interest-bearing student loan debt 40

The percentage of students that participate in or directly benefit from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students:

The website URL where information about the institution's affordability and access programs is available:

Financial Aid information does not include WCL

the 75% grad rate for low income reflects the 6 year graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients

70% participating in or directly benefiting from the institution’s policies and programs to support low-income and non-traditional students is based on the fact that 70% received some form of need and/or merit based financial aid.

Affordability: http://www.american.edu/initiatives/collegeaffordability/how-AU-is-addressing-college-costs.cfm

During academic year 2014-15, AU spent nearly $85 million to assist in meeting students’ financial needs. During this same year, AU spent $6 million last year from the Emergency Financial Aid Fund to ensure that students whose situations change are able to continue their studies through graduation.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.