Grants & Awards

Graduation Ceremony Caps

Grants and awards are types of financial aid considered as gift aid—financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Students admitted to GW with demonstrated financial need may be eligible for one or more of the following awards.  These need-based grants are awarded to U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens only. Funding for these programs come from several different sources, including the University and the federal government.

The University invests $37 million of its own funds in grants and awards for the freshman class in addition to approximately $1 million of federal grant money. Federal regulations require that we consider all resources when determining financial aid eligibility, so any grants or awards from private organizations must be reported to GW and may result in an adjustment of your financial aid package. Often these outside awards will be used to reduce the student loans or the work-study portion of the financial aid package. 

Available grants and awards for undergraduates include:

The George Washington Guaranteed Grant

This grant is awarded solely on the basis of financial need. It is guaranteed as long as the student is enrolled at GW, for up to 10 semesters of full-time undergraduate study. Once the award becomes official, the guaranteed amount will never decrease provided the student is enrolled and charged as a full-time student and continues to make satisfactory academic progress toward an undergraduate degree. 

The GW Guaranteed Grant can only be used toward tuition expenses. If a student is fortunate enough to receive outside tuition awards, such awards can be combined with the GW Guaranteed Grant up to the cost of tuition. However, if tuition-specific outside resources combined with the GW Guaranteed Grant exceed tuition costs, the GW Guaranteed Grant will be adjusted.

While this grant does not require reapplication beyond the first year at GW, those students eligible for other need-based aid will have to reapply annually by the posted deadline dates. Each student’s financial need will determine the level of support that can be provided beyond the GW Guaranteed Grant.

University and Alumni Award

University and Alumni Awards are available from GW to students who demonstrate financial need. Renewal is contingent upon completion of at least 12 credit hours of study each semester, maintenance of a 2.0 or better grade point average, reapplication by the published April deadline and continued financial need. The amount of this award can vary each year depending on the student’s financial need.

GW Family Grant

A full-time GW undergraduate whose sibling is also attending GW as a full-time undergraduate for the same academic year may qualify for a GW Family Grant amounting to one-half tuition for the second student. This half-tuition grant can be awarded for the full academic year or for the fall or spring semester only. To qualify, siblings must be enrolled full-time in a first-time, four-year bachelor’s degree program and be charged at GW’s full-time rate. Students receiving discounted tuition do not qualify. This grant is not available to either sibling if one is enrolled in the Seven-Year B.A./M.D. or non-affiliated study abroad program. More detailed information about GW Family Grant eligibility and renewal requirements are provided at the time of admission to the University.

Federal Pell Grant

Pell Grants are considered the foundation of federal financial aid to which aid from other federal and non-federal sources might be added. The Federal Pell Grant is awarded only to undergraduate students who have not previously earned a bachelor's or professional degree. The amount awarded depends not only on financial need, but also on costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

Funds may be used for tuition, fees, books, room, board or other educational expenses. For the 2011-2012 academic year, the maximum award amount was $5,550. Renewal is contingent on maintaining a 2.0 or better grade point average, reapplication and continued financial need.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) awards offered at GW range from $200 to $4,000. In accordance with federal regulations, FSEOG is awarded to students with exceptional financial need, and priority is given to students with Federal Pell Grant eligibility. Renewal of the FSEOG is contingent upon maintaining a 2.0 or better grade point average, reapplication by the published April deadline, continued financial need and Federal Pell Grant eligibility. Funds may be used for tuition, fees, books, room, board and other educational expenses.


Graduation cap throwing

GW offers both need-based and non-need-based scholarships.  The university is committed to the pursuit of academic excellence and rewards qualified students with academic merit scholarships. Approximately 24 percent of freshmen receive merit-based financial assistance. Even though you may meet the qualifications for several scholarships, only one will be awarded.

Non-need scholarships for entering freshmen

The university offers a number of non-need scholarships for entering freshmen, most of which are determined at the time of admission and no application is required. Freshmen awarded one of our non-need scholarships are guaranteed this award for up to 10 consecutive semesters as long as they maintain continuous full-time enrollment and satisfactory academic progress. Below is a list of these scholarships. Details about these scholarships are given on the Apply pages of our Web site.

  •  Presidential Academic Scholarships
  • Presidential International Scholarship
  • Engineering Scholarships
  • Seven-Year Integrated B.A./M.D.
  • Arts Scholarships
  •  Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholars
  • Scottish Rite Scholarship
  • ROTC Scholars

Non-need scholarships for entering transfers

The university has several scholarships for transfer students who have demonstrated achievement in selected areas prior to coming to GW. These scholarships are listed below. More detailed information can be found in the Apply pages of our Web site.

  • Phi Theta Kappa
  • Alpha Beta Gamma
  • Engineering Scholarship
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars

Need-Based Scholarships

In addition to merit-based scholarship awards, the university grants several need-based scholarship awards. Receipt of these awards is based on financial need as demonstrated through the financial aid application as well as academic and extracurricular achievements.

  • The Board of Trustees Scholarship--The Board of Trustees Scholarship (BOT) is available to academically excellent students who also demonstrate eligibility for need-based assistance according to GW’s financial aid policy.
  • University Scholarships—Need-based tuition scholarships, including endowed awards listed in the Bulletin, are available to academically excellent students working on their first undergraduate degree. We automatically will consider all aid applicants for these awards and do not need additional applications.

Outside Scholarships

Outside scholarships may be available to you through community groups, your high school or other organizations. The Office of Financial Assistance must be notified if you receive a scholarship from an outside source. It may affect your financial aid eligibility depending on individual circumstances and the amount of the scholarship.

Change in Financial Circumstances

Autumn in GW

If you are an undergraduate student whose family has experienced a significant change in financial circumstances, we encourage you to contact our Office of Student Financial Assistance as early as possible. You may do so by writing a letter specifying how your situation has changed since the original filing of your PROFILE and FAFSA forms. We ask that you provide us with detailed information, along with specific monetary amounts for any increased expenses or changes in income, so that we can evaluate your financial need. We will let you know if we need any additional information and we will inform you of our decision.

Subject to availability of funds, we typically allow award changes for the following: disability or death of a parent, unemployment, layoffs, pay cuts, emergency medical expenses, or natural disasters. Please be aware that we cannot revise awards based on your family's financial decisions, such as a parent choosing not to pay your educational costs or your family falling short of resources due to allocating funds elsewhere.

Managing the Family Contribution

Graduation and Family

The family contribution is the amount of money your family is expected to pay toward your college education for one year and is determined by subtracting any financial aid received from the total cost of attendance. Paying the family contribution through family income or savings is the ideal choice; however, such a contribution may exceed family resources.

Listed below are options we encourage you to consider in your financial planning. 

Monthly Payment Plan

The GW Monthly Payment Plan allows GW students and their parents to spread out annual college costs (tuition, fees, housing and meals) across more manageable monthly installments.

GW has partnered with ECSI to manage the payment plan. The monthly payment plan allows payments to be spread over up to ten months per year. The first payment for the fall semester is due in June, and the first payment for the spring semester is due in November.  As long as the sum of your payments covers each semester balance, you are not subject to interest or late fees. For more information, visit

Federal Direct Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students

Federal Direct PLUS loans funded by the U.S. Department of Education are available to credit-worthy parents. With a Direct PLUS loan, parents may borrow up to the full cost of the student's education, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and living expenses, less any financial aid. There are no maximum or minimum income guidelines for eligibility for such a loan. Additional advantages include a current 8.5 percent fixed interest rate; interest may be tax deductible.

Federal Direct Stafford Loan Program

Federal Direct Stafford Loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education. To receive a Federal Direct Stafford Loan—whether subsidized or unsubsidized—applicants for admission to GW must submit a completed FAFSA.

Private Alternative Loan Options

Private alternative loans are non-federal, private credit-based loan products offered by various lending institutions. The loans generally require school certification of enrollment and eligibility information and are issued in the student's name. They can be used like a Federal Direct PLUS loan to borrow up to the cost of attendance less any financial aid. We encourage students to exhaust all federal loans described on this page before considering private loans.

Evaluating Need Based Assistance

The GW experience at Kogan Plaza

Financing a GW education is a very important aspect in determining your ability to attend our exciting University. At GW, we are committed to assisting families to make the most of their financial aid dollars and to treat families equitably while maintaining flexibility in recognizing unusual situations. Each financial aid application file is given a personal review by experienced staff in the Office of Student Financial Assistance. In addition to submitting the required documentation, you are welcome to include any information you believe will help us understand your family's financial circumstances.

The following factors are used in determining a student’s eligibility for need-based assistance.

Determining the Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance is determined by the University and is an estimate of the educational and miscellaneous expenses a student will occur during the nine-month academic year.  An educational expense budget is calculated for each financial aid applicant. These expenses include direct costs such as tuition, fees, room, and board as well as indirect costs which are standard allowances for books, supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. 

Calculating the Expected Family Contribution

GW uses both the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS Profile as the main determinants in calculating the family contribution. The Office of Student Financial Assistance evaluates each student's application using federal and institutional methodologies to assess the family’s financial resources. During the review, attention is given to individual family circumstances. Standard factors involved in the review include income, family assets, household size, the number of children enrolled in college at the undergraduate level and unreimbursed medical expenses.  Based on this information, a determination is made as to what the family is expected to contribute toward the student's annual educational expenses following the appropriate federal and University policies.

Financial Need is Determined

Demonstrated financial need of each student is the difference between the cost of attendance and the calculated family contribution. The calculated need determines the student’s eligibility for financial assistance.

Construction of a Financial Aid Award

Eligibility for government grants is estimated and, if there is significant need, aid may be offered from University-administered and University-funded resources. The student is sent notification of the aid offer in the form of an award letter.

The financial aid award may include one or a combination of any of the following assistance vehicles: grants and/or scholarships from federal and/or institutional funds, federal loans, and work study.

Verification of Need-Based Award

In order to provide the most accurate award for students, as well as to make efficient use of financial aid dollars, GW verifies 100 percent all financial aid awards.  For this reason, tax data is requested from the parents and the student.

How GW Determines Financial Need

Types of Assistance

Evaluating Need-Based Assistance

We recognize that financing a GW education can be a deciding factor in attending GW. In assisting families, our approach is to be open minded, creative and flexible. We provide a personalized evaluation process in order to maximize your assistance based on your financial picture.

Managing Family Contributions

Families are expected to pay their share of a GW education. Paying the family contribution through family income or savings is the ideal choice. However, there are other resources and options to consider when paying for college.

Change in Financial Circumstances

Now more than ever, there are a variety of factors that we will consider in re-evaluating your financial aid eligibility

Fixed Tuition at GW

Excellence Awards 2009

Our families tell us that the fixed tuition plan takes much of the guesswork out of financing higher education. Last year alone, private institutions nationwide raised their tuition an average of 6.3 percent. So, while tuition elsewhere is subject to annual increases, the cost of a GW education, once set, remains constant.

We are committed to attracting academically qualified students who want to be at GW. Through the University’s innovative fixed-rate tuition plan, students no longer need to be concerned about annual tuition increases. The tuition you pay as an entering student remains fixed for your undergraduate program provided you maintain continuous full-time enrollment and are registered for a minimum of 12 semester hours of study each fall and spring term. Students also have the flexibility of a tuition fixed for up to ten semesters of study should a fifth year be required to achieve their academic goals. There are no additional fees except for a minimal Student Association fee. So, right up front it allows families to know the cost of a GW education, not just for the first year, but through the conclusion of a degree program.

In comparing costs of education and offers of financial assistance, GW’s fixed-tuition plan gives our families a long-term, guaranteed outlook, compared to most other schools that provide only a one year financial glimpse. We recognize that making the financial sacrifice for a quality private education at a select university is not easy, so we are doing our best to make tuition management as predictable as possible.

Budget Student Spending

The GW experience

The GW experience doesn’t require a lot of student spending. But even in a city that offers one-of-a-kind free activities and entertainment—ranging from free National Mall concerts to professional sports events—there are temptations.  It may be frequent cab rides or the lure created by a Starbucks on every corner.

One sure way to get college costs under control is to watch your student spending and live within your budget. Having all the benefits of studying and living in a major city is not inexpensive, but it does not have to be a budget buster. We tell our current GW students and parents that managing student spending is about planning and making good choices. That often includes student employment or federal work-study to help students afford their spending habits.  Most of our students have part-time jobs for the experience and to break into the D.C. job market while still in school but also for the extra cash for personal spending.

The $1,400 in personal spending we suggest each year is typically used for public transit, laundry, convenience and drugstore purchases, dry cleaning, movie tickets, entertainment and grooming or salon services consistent with city living.

Strategies for Financing Your Education

Students sitting outside

We recognize that this tough economy has sparked tough questions and family conversations about college affordability. There are many financial considerations that might affect your choice of a private university. Our approach is to develop programs and financing options to assist families in planning for tuition at GW.  We also have the following common sense advice:  

1. Plan early.

2. Do research to find out what federal, university, state, private, activity and academic help is out there, as well as what independent scholarships, funding and awards are available.

3. Never self-select out of financial aid. Apply even if you don’t think you have need.

4. Follow deadlines in order to avail yourself of all opportunities and options.

5. Have family conversations about affordability and how much of a financial commitment your family is willing to assume.

Cost of Attendance

Family at Graduation

GW continues to move to stabilize tuition increases and reduce costs. To date, we have made a commitment to keep increases in the overall cost of attendance to within three percent. That, combined with programs such as GW’s Fixed Tuition, Guaranteed institutional grant money, minimal increases in living expenses and a generous student-aid funding commitment worth more than $150,000,000 is part of our efforts to help families meet and plan for expenses.

Academic Year  - 2012-2013

2013-2014 academic year costs will be finalized in late February 2013

Tuition* $45,735
Student Association Fee $45
Matriculation Fee** $350
Room and Board*** $10,530
Books and Supplies**** $1,275
Personal**** $1,450
Transportation $1,000


*Tuition: New GW students will pay this fixed tuition rate for up to a total of 10 consecutive semesters as long as the student maintains full-time continuous enrollment. Refer to the University Bulletin for details.

Students enrolled in the Seven-Year B.A./M.D. program have a fixed tuition rate for the first three years of their program.  After the third year, B.A./M.D. students pay the prevailing tuition of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences for medical students.  

**Matriculation Fee: One-time only fee for freshmen and transfer students.

***Room and Board: Room and Board reflects an estimated minimum freshman Colonial Cash plan for dining of $3,400 for the year ($1,400 of the Colonial Cash amount must be used in Sodexho venues, which include the Marvin Center, Ames, Duques, and Pelham Commons at West Hall). Students may choose to increase this amount to fit their individual dining needs. The room calculation is based on a cost of $7,130. Other, higher priced, options are available.

****Books, Supplies, and Personal/Miscellaneous Expenses: Students may expect to pay an average of $1,275 for books and supplies and $1,450 for personal/miscellaneous expenses (laundry, entertainment, etc.) for an average total of $2,725. Many of these expenses can be managed through the Colonial Cash plan.