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Financial Information




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 One


To be considered for Federal Aid, complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at  You will need to secure a PIN number at 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.  Deadline to file:  March 1, 2014!


Step Two


Accepted 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 in 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 enrolled in the 2014-2015 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.  Please contact:  Elizabeth Bassett, (703) 993-2353.


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                                              $27,300*           $35,100**


Estimated Fees                                                                 $200                   $200


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




INDIRECT COSTS (estimates only)


Books + Supplies                                                                      $590


Room                                                                                        $17,100


Living Allowance                                                                     $3,215


Transportation                                                                         $1,610


Personal Incidentals                                                               $1,610


Subtotal Indirect                                                                    $24,125


TOTAL ESTIMATED COA                                      $51,625*           $59,425**




* 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.






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.  Students are automatically considered for merit aid 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.


Smithsonian-Mason SI Graduate Research Assistantships


The Smithsonian-Mason MA in the History of Decorative Arts is a partnership venture in higher education—George Mason University awarding a Master’s degree and the Smithsonian providing the academic environment for students and faculty.  In order to build stronger ties to the Smithsonian Institution and in exchange for HDA MA program access to curators, collections, and library branches, Smithsonian and Mason fund Graduate Research Assistantships.  Each year a number of the Assistantships are awarded upon acceptance to the program.  Each assignment obligates a student to work in an Smithsonian office, library or archive seven (7) hours per week for the 15 weeks of the semester and the student receives a stipend of $1,600.   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.




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.  The current interest rate for Graduate PLUS loans is 6.41%.  For more information about Graduate PLUS loans please visit:




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


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


Resources in HDA MA Department


Please see the HDA MA program administrators for 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




 FAFSA on the Web:


Federal Student Aid Gateway:


Student Aid on the Web Scholarship Wizard:


National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA):










American Association of University Women:


Consumer Credit Counseling Services:


U.S. Veterans Affairs Benefits:





The staff of the George Mason University Financial Aid office is here to help make your Smithsonian-Mason education in the nation’s capital a reality.  Please see our website at for more information or feel free to contact:


Elizabeth Bassett

Sr. Associate Director of Financial Aid

George Mason University

(703) 993-2353


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