CU in D.C. General Financial Information
The tuition costs for participation in the CU in D.C. program are the same as they would be if you were on campus. For instance, the amount you would pay for 12 credits on campus for a fall semester will be the same amount you pay for 12 credits when participating in the CU in D.C. program. As a CU in D.C. student, you register for credit hours just the same way you ordinarily do in the fall or spring, through the online student registration system. And your online registration triggers charges on your account at the Bursar’s Office. So for the fall or spring academic-year semesters, you are charged tuition on your CU account at the Bursar’s Office, just like you are every semester. For current tuition rates, you can visit the Bursar’s Office website.
If you participate in CU in D.C. over the summer D session or the Maymester period, you pay tuition rates that are similar to Continuing Education summer tuition rates. In recent summers, the tuition rate for CU in D.C. summer participation has been $3060 for 6 credits, which includes processing fees (for Maymester, tuition should be about half that amount). During the summertime and Maymester, the registration process is a bit different from the academic-year semesters, and so is the payment process. In the summer/Maymester, students are provided with instructions on how to register for CU in D.C. through the Office of Continuing Education, and they are given a special registration form from the CU in D.C. program. Students pay tuition charges directly to the Office of Continuing Education, using the special registration form and process. They have the option of paying for tuition by either check or by credit card.
The CU in D.C. program makes housing arrangements for each student group every semester/session (fall, spring, summer, Maymester). Students live together in apartment-style housing and are each billed a lump sum charge for housing. In recent semesters, during the fall and spring, the housing charges have been approximately $4300 for 15 weeks. During the summer D session, the housing charges have been approximately $3200 for 10 weeks. For Maymester, housing costs are roughly $1400. These rates are typical market rate rental costs for the Washington D.C. area. The arranged housing does not include food or a dining hall. The housing is fully furnished, and includes a kitchen, cable, and Wi-Fi. Students do not pay for any utilities or additional bills. If a student happens to have family living in the D.C. metro area and prefers to save money by living with family nearby, that is an option. Students just need to request a special housing waiver and the program usually accommodates their request, so long as their housing arrangement is reliable and located within reasonable distance to their internship and to the CU in D.C. classroom (located near the Dupont Metro stop).
Tuition and housing costs are the biggest expenses for participation in the CU in D.C. program. But students must also budget for additional living expenses, like food and daily transportation, just as they would while living in Boulder. The cost of food in Washington D.C. is similar to what it is in Boulder (the cost of living, in general, is similar). CU in D.C. students commute via Metro every day, in order to go to their internship and to also get to class. So students need to budget for monthly Metro transportation expenses. You can find Metro rates at this link: http://www.wmata.com/fares/metrorail.cfm. Other miscellaneous expenses that a student might incur include the flight to and from Washington D.C. and the purchasing of professional clothing. Overall, students can expect to spend approximately $2000 more than they ordinarily would spend for a full semester on campus. And as is explained in the Financial Aid section below, the CU Office of Financial Aid increases aid recipient student budgets by approximately $2000 for participation in the CU in D.C. program.
Students who receive financial aid are eligible for their full financial aid packages when they participate in the CU in D.C. program during an academic semester (fall and spring). Since CU in D.C. students register for CU credits and are billed at the Bursar’s office during fall and spring, just as they usually are each semester, full financial aid counts toward the program. If, for example, your financial aid package covers 90% of your bill in the fall or spring, it will still cover 90% of your bill if you are a CU in D.C. participant. And the Office of Financial Aid puts together special financial aid packages for CU in D.C. students each semester to account for the slightly higher cost of living in Washington D.C. They bump up the student’s budget by about $2000, increasing the student’s ‘unmet financial need’ for that particular semester. For most students, accessing financial aid is easiest during fall or spring semesters, but some students can also access aid during summer session D. For specific questions about this, you should meet with a financial aid counselor.
Each fall, spring, and summer, the CU in D.C. program awards small scholarship amounts to participants. The scholarship awards are based on financial need, academic merit, major, interest areas, and other miscellaneous factors, such as having status as a first-generation college student. Award amounts are typically in the $500-$2000 range and are usually applied directly to the student’s bill. Students do not need to submit special paperwork or a special application to be considered for a scholarship award (all students are considered). The CU in D.C. team uses original student applications and unmet financial need data from the Office of Financial Aid to determine awards. CU in D.C. notifies students about scholarship awards about a month or two before departure to Washington D.C.
Paid vs. Unpaid Internships
The majority of internship opportunities for undergraduate students in Washington D.C. are unpaid. For some fields, such as the sciences, it is more common to find paid internship opportunities. But for fields like political science or international affairs, paid internships are uncommon. That said, by conducting some good research, a student can probably find a paid opportunity if s/he is determined to do so. And if an organization is not willing/does not have the funding to pay an intern, it might still be worthwhile for a student to negotiate for something smaller (but very helpful), like a transportation stipend. Some organizations are willing to provide interns with a monthly Metro card, for example. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Summer/Maymester vs. Academic Year
For many students, accessing financial aid is easiest during fall and spring semesters, and for this reason, participation in the CU in D.C. program is easier during the academic year. Many students also need to work for pay during the summer, and the opportunity cost of doing an unpaid internship is too high. So for many students, it makes financial sense to participate in the program during either the fall or spring semesters. For other students, summer/Maymester participation is preferred. It all just depends on each student’s personal, professional, academic, and financial circumstances.
**For additional information, please read our FAQ section on financial issues.**