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.


Cost of Attendance & Financial Aid


Paying for college involves financial planning and strategy that you should consider an investment in your future. A degree from GW will produce a lifetime of rewards and connections, both intellectual and financial. Our top priority is to assist you with your financial plan to attend GW. To that end, our Office of Student Financial Assistance provides assistance to undergraduate and graduate students planning for their continued education.

Cost of Attendance

The most up-to-date tuition costs are updated yearly and can be found on the Student Accounts Office website. Tuition rates are subject to change at any time, with the exception of full-time, main campus undergraduate students who are charged a fixed tuition rate based on their first semester at the university. The rate at which you are charged is determined by your student type, campus location, program, and enrollment status.

GW is committed to ensuring that students from all financial backgrounds have the opportunity to attend and succeed here. Find out more about the Task Force on Access and Success.