History of Decorative Arts
George Mason University in Partnership with Smithsonian Associates

Financial Information




Graduate Dean’s Merit Scholarships

The Smithsonian-Mason MA in the History of Decorative Arts is committed to recognizing past achievements as well as promise for future success and contributions.  All admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships upon acceptance to the program.  No additional forms are required.

Each year the Smithsonian-Mason MA awards a select number of merit-based scholarships.  Award amounts are determined by a careful review of each student’s application materials.  Depending on the time of year, new students are notified of their merit scholarship by letter shortly after their acceptance or at the time of their acceptance.

Dean’s Merit Scholarships are offered as renewable awards, based on full-time enrollment (nine or more credits per semester) and maintenance of a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average.  Awards range from $6,000 to $10,000 per annum.

Smithsonian-Mason SI Graduate Research Assistantships

All admitted students are considered for paid work-study assignments at the Smithsonian Institution.  Since the Smithsonian provides the academic environment for students and faculty—access to curators, collections, and libraries—Smithsonian and Mason fund Graduate Research Assistantships.  Each assignment entails a student to work in a Smithsonian office, library or archive seven (7) hours per week for the 15 weeks of the semester.  The award is equivalent to $3,200 per annum and students are paid as part-time University student workers.   Graduate Research Assistantships are offered as renewable awards, based on full-time enrollment (nine or more credits per semester) and maintenance of a minimum 3.5 cumulative grade point average.

LOANS (Coordinated by Mason’s Financial Aid Office)

Federal Stafford Loans

Graduate students can currently borrow up to $20,500 per year in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan funds.  This loan is not credit-based, but a FAFSA is required for qualification.  Unsubsidized Stafford loans have an annual interest rate of 5.41%, and begin to accrue interest as soon as a loan is disbursed. 

Federal Graduate PLUS Loans

Federal Graduate PLUS loans are designed to bridge the gap between what gift aid and Stafford Loans cover.  Graduate students (taking 4.5 or more graduate credit hours) can borrow up to their total Cost of Attendance (COA) budget minus any gift aid and Stafford funds that have already been packaged.  Unlike Stafford loans, Graduate PLUS Loans are credit-based and require a simple credit check during the application process.  Applicants with credit issues might be asked to provide a co-signer before a final decision can be made to approve the loan.  For more information about Graduate PLUS loans please visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types/loans/plus



All students seeking admission to the Smithsonian-Mason MA in the History of Decorative Arts are eligible to apply for federal financial aid.  Non-need-based scholarships do not require an application form.  One need not wait for an admissions decision to apply for financial aid.  In fact, one is encouraged to apply for aid for the upcoming Fall term as soon as possible.  Spring semester applicants are encouraged to apply for aid at the time they submit their admission application.  Awards are made on a rolling basis after students are notified of their acceptance.

Step OneTo be considered for Federal Aid, complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov.  You will need to secure a PIN number at www.pin.ed.gov before you can complete your FAFSA.  Be certain to list George Mason University’s Federal school code of 003749 to ensure Mason receives your results. 

Step TwoAccepted students receive a personalized financial aid package that consists of Federal Loans. This will include a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan and a Graduate level-PLUS loan. Students will be notified via email when their aid package is ready to view and accept online on Patriot Web. There is no separate application for merit awards.

Next Steps: Any loan application requirements and loan disbursement information will be emailed to you. Be certain to pay particular attention to:

  1. Credit Load: It is very important to take into account the number of credits for which you will register at the graduate level.  Federal loans are based on a minimum of 4.5 (part-time) credits of enrollment.
  2. Summer Term or Study Abroad Enrollment: If plans include summer term or study abroad enrollment, please be certain to include the credits in your estimates.



The following is an estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) budget for full-time students (both in-state and out-of-state) enrolled in the 2015-2016 year.  Based on your credit load, this COA is designed to assist in financial planning.  Because individual costs can differ, please consult with the Financial Aid office to review your anticipated COA. 

Cost of Tuition                           $1,300/credit

All courses are three credits     $3,900/course

Full-time Enrollment                  9-12 credits (3 to 4 courses)/semester (fall and spring)

Part-time Enrollment                 6 credits (2 courses)/semester (fall and spring)

Summer Study                           Many students take at least one course or

                                                    internship during the summer.


Estimated COA DIRECT COSTS (due to the University)

Annual Tuition Estimated (both in-state and out-of-state)    $27,300*         $35,100**

Estimated Fees                                                                           $200                $200

Subtotal Direct                                                                         $27,500*         $35,300**


* Based on 9 credits for two semesters and 3 credits of summer study.  Tuition due will vary depending on number of credits enrolled.

**Based on 12 credits for two semesters.


INDIRECT COSTS (estimates only)            

Books and Supplies                                                                                $1,368

Housing                                                                                                 $16,928

Transportation                                                                                        $1,794

Personal Expenses                                                                                  $2,880

Subtotal Indirect                                                                                     $22,970


TOTAL ESTIMATED COA                                                           $50,470*         $58,270**                                                                                                                                   

* Based on 9 credits for two semesters and 3 credits of summer study.  Tuition due will vary depending on number of credits enrolled.

**Based on 12 credits for two semesters.



In addition to merit scholarships and HDA MA graduate research assistantships and loans, you should explore financial opportunities available specifically through your hometown, undergraduate institution, previous career field, or intended field of study.  Consider the following additional possibilities for financing your graduate education.

Outside Scholarships and Loans

Private and state resources also offer additional opportunities for funding.  Below are a few websites that specifically address graduate scholarships:





Resources in the Department

Please see the program administrators for additional resources specific to the field of history of decorative arts that may provide ongoing funding for graduate students.  The department is most diligent about promptly forwarding to students all part- and full-time career opportunities made known to them.

Payment Options - Mason Payment Plan

Mason payment plans are available online for students who need to budget their accounts.  A down payment, which is the first payment plus a $25 contract fee, is required at the time of enrollment.  The contract fee is nonrefundable.  Study Abroad/Global Education and international student health insurance fee payments cannot be deferred.  Failure to pay the deferred balance by the due date will result in financial hold, a late fee of 10% (up to $125), collection activity, and may prevent future eligibility of the payment plan.

To view the plans available for enrollment, please visit the Bill and Payment System at http://studentaccounts.gmu.edu.


FAFSA on the Web: www.fafsa.gov

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA):  https://www.nasfaa.org/

NSLDS: www.nslds.ed.gov

FinAid: www.finaid.org

FastWeb.com: www.fastweb.com

Peterson’s: www.petersons.com/graduate

Americorps:  www.americorps.gov

American Association of University Women: www.aauw.org

Consumer Credit Counseling Services: www.creditcounselingnetwork.org

U.S. Veterans Affairs Benefits: www.va.gov


The staff of the George Mason University Financial Aid office is here to help make your Smithsonian-Mason education a reality.  Please see our website at http://financialaid.gmu.edu for more information or feel free to contact:

Office of Financial Aid

George Mason University

(703) 993-2353

Please visit http://financialaid.gmu.edu/contact-us/ to contact your George Mason University Financial Aid Counselor.


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