Limited Income

Limited Income Students

As defined by the U.S. Department of Education, the term “low-income” applies to an individual whose household’s taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 150% of the poverty line. Other definitions can include individuals with less disposable income than others, living paycheck to paycheck within a community or simply those who struggle to pay bills or are affected by low job security.

Financial Well Being Resources from Mason

  • The Student Support & Advocacy Center provides a multitude of financial well-being resources. This includes, but is not limited to, workshops, financial resources, information on student loans, as well as a money talk series. Click here to view the information on their page.
  • Mason financial assistance website. Lots of community resources for scholarships, emergency financial assistance, government assistance, and basic needs assistance.

GMU Office of Student Financial Aid 

  • Located in Student Union Building 1 on the first floor (suite 1100)
  • You can also fill out a form online on their “Contact Financial Aid”page
  • This site provides information on different types of financial aid for students

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 

  • Undergraduate students must submit their FASFA by February 1, (March 1st for transfer students) and all required other documents by March 1st, each year. FAFSAs received after February 1 are considered late and will not be given priority consideration but will be reviewed for other federal sources of financial aid.
  • FAFSA must be reapplied every year
  • You should always apply to FAFSA as soon as possible. The application is open on October 1st. The application will determine the amount of aid you will receive for the next academic year.

The Virginia Alternative State Aid Application (VASA)

  • An alternative application for students who are ineligible for FAFSA
  • VASA is a financial aid application for Virginia students who are undocumented, nonimmigrant, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients
  • Mason’s priority deadline for VASA submission is yearly on February 1st.

*The VASA application determines eligibility for Virginia need-based financial assistance and does not quality students for federal aid. Students who are eligible to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are strongly urged to complete it to qualify for federal and state need-based aid. The VASA application should only be completed by Virginia residents who are ineligible for FAFSA funding.

For more information regarding the VASA, please click here.

Tuition Funding Resources

Department Scholarships 

Each college department has various scholarships throughout the year. Be sure to check their website for the application due dates.

Mason Foundation Scholarship 

The application portal opens on February 1st. The Mason Scholarship Application matches current Mason students (undergraduates, graduates, and admitted transfers) with Foundation Scholarships based on the data submitted in the application and academic record. The application process may vary by college or department.

George Mason University’s Undocumented Scholars Award 

  • The Undocumented Scholars Award was established in 2016 through student advocacy and a consortium of donors in order to provide educational programming, scholarships, and emergency assistance to students whose immigration status might otherwise hinder them from accessing higher education.
  • Eligibility: Current degree-seeking Mason student who identifies as undocumented, or has protected statuses such as DACA, TPS, or have asylum status pending.
  • Application open from Mar. 15 – May 31
  • Submit your application on the Mason Academic Works website:
  • Complete the General Application
  • Complete the “Undocumented Scholars Award” application
  • If you have any questions about the application or your eligibility, contact

Additional Mason scholarship information can be found here.

Stay Mason Student Support Fund

Emergency funding is available to students who experience unexpected financial challenges, emergencies, or sudden financial hardships

  • Please note that since tuition and fees are an expected expense of attending college, funding for tuition and fees is limited and reviewed on a case-by-case basis.You do not need to supply what you owe for tuition and fees, but you will be required to explain in detail why you are not able to pay your tuition and fees and why you are asking for assistance.
  • What funding is available?
    This process is for emergencies or unexpected financial challenges, designed to provide temporary, short-term financial assistance. The Stay Mason Student Support Fund is a last resort for students who need it most and should not be considered part of a student’s financial planning. All federal financial aid options must be exhausted first, including having a current 2021-2022 FAFSA on file AND accepting and receiving ALL offered subsidized and unsubsidized loans (if eligible), AND applying for and accepting summer financial aid.
  • How do I qualify for funding?
    To qualify for funding, you must meet ALL of the following criteria:

    • Enrolled in at least 1 credit hour in a degree-seeking program at GMU during the academic term for which the emergency funding application is made;
    • Exhausted all other sources of financial assistance, including having a current 2021-2022 FAFSA on file, if eligible to complete, AND accepting and receiving ALL offered subsidized and unsubsidized loans if eligible and applying for and accepting summer financial aid prior to applying for emergency assistance;
    • Earned at least 12 credits on the Mason campus prior to applying;
    • Have a minimum overall GPA of 2.00;
    • Maintain satisfactory academic progress(2.0 GPA as undergrad/3.0 GPA as graduate + 67% completion rate);
    • Demonstrate an unexpected financial hardship during the term resulting from an emergency or crisis situation; and
    • Provide documentation to support the request as may be required by the Stay Mason committee.

University Career Services

The University Career Services offer workshops and appointments for career preparation. They also assist students in creating resumes, networking with Mason alumni, and preparing for workplace.

      • Students can schedule appointments through call 703-993 2370 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST)
      • Document Review:Email resumes or cover letters to for review. Peer Career Advisors will send feedback via email during drop-ins hours (Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. EST)
      • Workshops and Employer Events: Attend virtual career events and workshops – happening all semester! Find the most up-to-date event information on this web calendarand in Handshake.
      • Career Fair 
        • Every fall semester and spring semester, there is a career fair on-campus with many recruiters looking to hire students for internships and jobs. This event is hosted by the University Career Services. Be on the lookout for the event date and don’t forget to suit up and bring your resume to the event!
      • On-Campus Jobs
        • Commuting to work can be a hassle at times! Hence, if you would like to earn some money as a student, consider working on campus in between your classes! Some departments and organizations can be really flexible as they acknowledge you are a student. Be on the lookout for opportunities available on Handshake!
      • Some on-campus employment opportunities:
        • Sodexo
        • Bookstore
        • Library
        • Chipotle
        • Panera Bread
      • The majority of Mason departments post their part-time, federal work-study, research assistant, teaching assistant, and professional assistant jobs for students on Handshake. To find opportunities:
        • Log into Handshake with your Mason NetID
        • Select the ‘Jobs’ tab
        • Select ‘On-campus’ from the filter options
        • Follow the instructions to apply; you may need to provide
        • Resume
        • Cover letter
        • Work Availability Form(PDF)
        • Find tips to create great resumesand cover letters.

Federal Work-Study 

The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program is a need-based program that provides part-time employment opportunities to eligible students to help meet the costs of post-secondary education. Based on the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), eligible students are awarded an allotment which may be earned through part-time employment in FWS-approved positions either on or off-campus.

There are many Federal Work Study positions on-campus/remotely. You can find these opportunities on Handshake! Each semester, you are given a specific amount for your FWS position. If you run out of the amount before the semester ends, you can also reach out to the Financial Aid office about your circumstances and request if you can qualify for an additional award. Extension requests are not guaranteed, however, it doesn’t hurt to try

Get Started on Applying for Federal Work-Study Positions On-Campus 

      • Log-in to Handshake– using your Mason Patriot Pass credentials
      • Complete Your Profile– add your work/volunteer experiences, skills and interest
      • Upload Your Documents– Upload your resume, cover letter and job availability form.
      • Apply for Jobs– Once your resume is approved, you can begin applying for open positions.

*NOTE: International students should review the International Student page for eligibility information.

Patriot Perks – Local Deals

      • Click hereto explore exclusive deals for Mason students at local businesses!

Student Discounts

      • If you are enrolled as a student at a university, below are some discounts that you can use when you’re shopping online.
      • UNiDAYS:Discounts for retailers such as adidas, Pacsun, Hollister, Apple, and more!!
      • Nikeoffers a 10% discount to eligible high school, college, and university students in the United States. Students will have to verify that they are a student using SheerID.
      • Membership and Subscriptions
      • Spotify: Spotify Premium Student with Hulu and SHOWTIME for $4.99/month
      • Amazon: Try Amazon Prime trial for free for six months. After six months, students will be charged $7.49 per month/ $69 per year (Pricing as of June 2022)
      • Apple Music: $4.99/month
      • New York Times: Through University Libraries, Mason students, faculty, and staff have free access to com.First-time users can create an account here using their Mason credentials.
      • HelloFreshoffers 15% off every food subscription box. Be sure to register with UNiDAYs.
      • Rosetta Stone:Free access as a GMU Student. Visit the library’s website for steps to access the software.
      • Free Perks as a Mason Student
      • Watching movies at University Mall Theatre (across from campus) for FREE: Student Involvement, an office located at the HUB Room 2300, offers a voucher (1 per person for students to watch any show at University Mall Theatre! Tickets will expire 2 weeks from the pick-up date.
      • HBO Max: On-Campus Students can watch HBO Max through GMU. Please use these steps to sign-in.Sign in with GMU as your TV Provider and watch on computers.
      • Access to pools, sauna, and hot tubs at the Aquatic Center with your Mason ID.
      • Free tickets for eligible performances at Centers of Arts. Eligible Mason students may request 1 or 2 tickets per event, depending on availability. The number of tickets available for each event is noted on the Free Student Ticket Calendar, event listing, and Mason360registration page. For more information, visit this website.

Travel locally for free with your Mason ID using the CUE Bus!

      • The CUE Bus is a bus service operated by the City of Fairfax, which Mason subsidizes so that with your Mason ID, you can ride free. There are two routes – the green and the gold. In addition to destinations around the City of Fairfax, both routes also travel to the Vienna Metro. There is a CUE bus stop on the Mason Fairfax Campus next to Rappahannock River Parking Deck.
      • You can track the CUE buses in real time by visiting the Fairfax City website and searching for “city apps”. You can also download Transit App for Android.

Mason Shuttle

      • Mason offers 6 shuttle routes including free shuttles from campus to the Vienna metro (one from Sandy Creek Transit Center; the other from the Global Center), to/from the Burke VRE train station, between the Fairfax and the SciTech campuses, between the Fairfax Campus and area shopping centers and to/from the West Campus. Shuttle schedules are available on GMU Shuttles website. Please note that during holidays, school breaks, and over the summer the shuttle schedule is adjusted.
      • You can track the shuttles in real time by downloading the RideSystems app or visiting Mason Ryde System page to see when the next shuttle is arriving. For an overview of the RideSystems app, please see GMU Shuttle website.


Subsidized taxicab from participating companies, traveling anywhere within their service area. There are no restrictions on trip purposes. This is a program for Fairfax County residents who are income-eligible. For more information contact 703.222.9764


      • Lot K has free parking over the weekends. In order to park, be sure to print out the free permit from My Parking Portal
      • There is free parking near the fieldhouse and at University Mall, however, parking availability is not always guaranteed. Be sure to consider travel time to the main campus if you choose to park near the field house or at University Mall
      • Parking Pass: Parking pass can be purchased a few weeks before school starts. Many off-campus students purchase the general lots parking pass as it is affordable and offers various parking locations. There are also cheaper parking pass options available if students do not need to go to campus often.

Gowns for Grads Program

Graduation should be a time of excitement and possibility, not a time to feel burdened by another expense: a $60 cap and gown for graduation.

To offer some financial relief, Mason has created the Gowns for Grads Program to make regalia available for our students who are unable to purchase regalia on their own. If you are a first-generation student, low income, Pell Grant recipient, Stay Mason recipient, or cannot afford regalia right now due to financial difficulties, then this program is for you!

Food Support

On campus food support

      • Patriot Pantry: The Patriot Pantry is located on the Fairfax Campus, in Student Union Building 1, Room 3011.
      • Eligibility Criteria for Spring 2023: Enrolled in at least one (1) credit hour in the Spring 2023 term in a degree-seeking program at George Mason University (part-time or full-time and graduate or undergraduate).
      • Students can submit orders online once per week
      • Source:

Off campus food support

      • The Virginia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides supplemental income for purchasing food for low-income households. An eligible person or family receives an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which is used like any other debit card at the grocery store.
      • Students attending an institution of higher education, like a college, university, trade school, or technical school more than half-time are eligible for SNAP IF they meet an exemption AND meet all other SNAP eligibility requirements. Mason defines half-time as registering for 6 credits for undergraduate students, and 4.5 credits for graduate students.

What Are Income Requirements?

This chart shows the gross monthly eligibility standard based on family size considering 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, or FPL. The FPL is set by the federal government each year is calculated centered on family size and income. FPL determines eligibility for many federal and state public programs. There is an exception to gross income for families with household members who have a disability and are 60 or older.

Screening for Eligibility & Applying

      • Option 1: Screen for eligibility and/or apply online through CommonHelp
      • Option 2: Bypass eligibility screening and submit an application manually. Fill out an “Application for Benefits” from the forms section on this page and return it to your local department of social services.
      • The USDA has temporarily expanded SNAP eligibility for studentsenrolled at least part-time in a higher education institution.
      • A manual application cannot be processed and is not considered complete until it is signed and received by your local department.
      • An interview will be required unless you meet the conditions for a waiver . Proof of identity (driver’s license or picture I.D.), residence, income, resource and shelter expenses will be required.
      • Snap for college students:
      • Qualifying locations that accept SNAP will display the following images: 
      • support for food, clothing, (financial assistance for certain utility bills)

Food Pantries & Banks

Check out local food pantries and food banks.

More Community Resources

        • Connect clients to an array of federal and state benefits through our confidential screener that provides immediate eligibility results and an interactive map of local community resources, simplifying their search for support.

Affordable Housing Resources