How to Pay for George Washington University: Aid and Student Loan Options

 June 30, 2020
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how to pay for george washington university

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George Washington University (GWU) is a great school that’s well-known for its distinguished alumni, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

But attending GWU won’t just provide you with a world-class education. It also comes with a large sticker price — $58,550 for the 2020-2021 academic year.

In addition to tuition, housing costs can be almost $14,000 per academic year, books and supplies are about $1,300, and other living expenses are about $1,500. All told, you might pay around $75,000 per year.

Figuring out how to pay for George Washington University tuition can be a daunting task, but it’s doable. Here’s a step-by-step list of where to turn for the funds you need to make your dreams of college attendance come true.

1. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
2. Scholarships offered by George Washington University
3. Non-institutional scholarships
4. Private student loans
5. Income share agreement (ISA)

1. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Your first step in paying for college, no matter your situation, should be to fill out the FAFSA. Information from the FAFSA is sent to GWU, and the school uses this information to assemble your financial aid package, which includes nonfederal and federal aid.

When you complete the FAFSA, you gain access to different types of financial assistance through the government. Some of the items you might see in your federal aid package when deciding how to pay for George Washington University include the following:

Pell Grants

For undergraduate students showing exceptional need, the government offers the Pell Grant, which doesn’t have to be repaid. The maximum amount for a Pell Grant for the 2020-2021 academic year is $6,345.

Other grants

Depending on your situation, you might qualify for other federal grants. Some grants are meant for those who plan to become teachers, for example, and others are reserved for students who had a parent die in Iraq or Afghanistan during military service.

Federal student loans

You can borrow up to $5,500 in your first year as an undergraduate. In your second year, it’s possible to borrow up to $6,500. For your third year and beyond, you can borrow up to $7,500 per year.

Depending on your need, as determined by the FAFSA, a portion of your loans might be subsidized — meaning the government pays the interest while you’re in school.

These loans come with a fixed interest rate. For the 2020-2021 academic year, it’s 4.53%.

Federal Work-Study Program

For students who are eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program, it’s possible to be guaranteed a job during your time in school. You’re paid to work part-time, and the money can be used to help pay the costs associated with attending GWU.

Parent PLUS Loans

If your parents are willing to help you resolve the issue of how to pay for George Washington University, they can take out Parent PLUS Loans. These loans come with a fixed rate of 7.08% for the 2020-2021 academic year. However, the government will check your parents’ credit.

Parents can apply for a PLUS Loan by going to and selecting “Apply for a PLUS Loan” under the “Parent Borrowers” drop-down menu.

2. Scholarships offered by George Washington University

After you fill out the FAFSA, George Washington University recommends filling out the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile. Hundreds of higher education institutions use this profile to help provide nonfederal student aid. GWU uses information from this profile to direct you toward different scholarships and other aid programs the school offers.

University awards and scholarships

The university automatically considers you for various awards and scholarships that can reduce the cost of attending GWU. There’s no need to submit a separate application. You can receive scholarships in the following areas:

  • Admissions awards, including various national and named programs, such as the Presidential Academic Scholarship and the Scottish Rite Scholarship
  • Activity awards related to extracurricular activities in which you excelled, including band, debate, student leadership and yearbook
  • Athletic grants and scholarships for some Division I sports teams at GWU

Award amounts vary, and you can’t accept more than one. However, GWU automatically will set you up with the biggest dollar amount. When combined with other forms of financial aid, these scholarships can help you afford GWU attendance.

Resident advisor positions

It’s also possible to get help paying for school at George Washington University by becoming a resident advisor. You can support and counsel other students as they attend school and receive help with your bills in return.

District Scholars Program

If you’re a resident of the District of Columbia (D.C.), you can receive an additional grant toward your tuition. The District Scholars Program increases the value of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant. GWU offers an additional $7,500 a year for qualifying students.

You also can apply for the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship, which offers a full ride to qualifying graduates of D.C.’s public schools. You must apply for this scholarship, and selection is based on course of study, GPA, teacher recommendations, leadership experience, community service and other criteria.

3. Non-institutional scholarships

In addition to scholarships offered by GWU, you can apply for outside awards. Many organizations offer scholarships of varying amounts. Check with service organizations, such as Kiwanis International and Rotary International, to see what’s available. You also might be able to apply for scholarships from local credit unions and retail stores.

Some online resources, including Fastweb and Scholly, also provide access to different scholarships. You might be surprised at how the amounts add up if you apply for and receive several scholarships.

4. Private student loans

Not everyone gets scholarships, though. And when you’re trying to decide how to pay for George Washington University, you shouldn’t forget about private student loans. That’s especially true if your parents can’t take out a Parent PLUS Loan to help you.

In order to qualify for private loans, you’ll need to meet the credit and income requirements set by lenders. There are many private student loan lenders that offer terms that might suit you. In fact, depending on your situation, you might even be able to get a lower rate than you would with federal loans.

If you can’t qualify for a private loan on your own, see if your parents are willing to cosign. That way, they aren’t borrowing the money directly but can still help you get the funding you need to pay for GWU.

5. Income share agreement (ISA)

Finally, you might be able to pay for GWU with the help of an income share agreement. An ISA allows an investor to take a chance and help pay for your education. Instead of borrowing, you promise to pay a portion of your income to the investor for a set period of time.

However, one difference between student loans and an ISA is that, depending on the terms of the agreement, you could end up paying more over time than you would through borrowing.

How to pay for George Washington University: Create your strategy

In the end, paying for GWU takes planning. Even if you or your parents have saved money in a bank account or 529 plan, you might need additional funds from other sources.

Use GWU’s Net Price Calculator to estimate how much money you’ll need to attend school. This calculator takes need-based aid you might receive into account. Once you know where you stand, you can fill out the FAFSA and the CSS and begin looking into scholarships and private student loans to bridge the funding gap.

Christina Majaski contributed to this report.

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