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President Barack Obama Scholars Program

ASU is proud to promote equal access to education for all Arizonans through programs like the President Barack Obama Scholars Program.

President Barack Obama represents outstanding academic achievement, thoughtfulness, a long record of service to others, inspired leadership and a commitment to building strong communities across this country.

In Arizona, we have many motivated, high-achieving students. For some of them, a lack of family resources has been a barrier to higher education. With the right support, these students can be successful, build better communities and create positive change. Arizona State University is committed to providing these opportunities.

About the Obama Scholars Program

New student eligibility:

  • Open to Arizona residents, admitted to ASU in the fall who are degree-seeking, full-time first year students (pursuing first undergraduate degree). This includes Native American high school seniors who are not residing in Arizona who meet the Arizona residency criteria for tuition purposes at ASU.
  • Admission to the university does not guarantee eligibility for the program. You must meet all course competencies and at least one of the aptitude requirements for admission described on the First Year Admission Requirements.
  • You must enroll in ASU at the beginning of the fall semester immediately after Arizona high school graduation. If you do not enroll at ASU for the fall, you will forfeit eligibility for any future participation in this program.
  • You must demonstrate a total annual family income of $42,400 or less on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Assets are considered in the determination of the Obama program. The Obama Scholars Program will be closed for the year when program funds have been exhausted.
  • You must be eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant.
  • Full-time on-campus students registered for iCourses and ASU Sync are eligible to receive the ASU Obama Scholarship.
  • ASU Online degree programs are not eligible. If you change your major to an ASU Online major, you will be removed from the Obama Scholars Program and adjustments will be made to your awards.
  • There is no additional application for this program. Students that submit their FAFSA and have a complete ASU admissions application on file (application, transcripts and application fee) by the dates below will be automatically considered.

Important Deadlines*

Meeting criteria and deadline dates does not guarantee placement in the program as funding is limited and the program will close when available funds have been exhausted.

Jan. 15 - Students must submit their FAFSA and have a complete ASU admissions application on file (application, transcripts and application fee).

July 1 - Students must submit all requested documents for financial aid verification.

* There are no exceptions to these dates. The FAFSA must be free of errors and the admissions application with all necessary materials must be complete to be eligible for consideration. Be sure to apply early in order to resolve any errors or issues before the deadline dates.

Obama Scholarship calculation

By combining gift aid (i.e., Pell Grants, SEOG, University Grants, LEAP, and scholarships) from federal, state, private, and institutional sources with Federal Work-Study, ASU will cover students' estimated direct costs of attending ASU (minus the Expected Family Contribution as determined by the FAFSA) for up to eight full-time, consecutive fall and spring semesters (summer sessions are not covered). Estimated direct costs include actual tuition, undergraduate college fee (including Barrett Honors fee), and student initiated fees, as well as standardized allowances for housing, meals and books/supplies.

Study abroad program fees or summer tuition/fees will not be covered as part of the program. You may choose to spend one semester in an ASU-sponsored study abroad program, only after completion of your first year in the Obama Scholars Program. This will count as one semester towards the eight semester maximum. Your funding will continue to be based on ASU cost of attendance and will not cover any study abroad program fees.

ASU will award recipients a combination of the following sources of aid. These awards do not require repayment.

  • Pell Grants—this federal gift assistance program supports students who have exceptional need.
  • Institutional Grants—ASU gift assistance available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. These grants include University Grants.
  • FSEOG and LEAP Grants—gift assistance available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.
  • Federal Work-Study—a student employment program that allows students to earn funds to assist in paying their educational costs. Participants in the Obama Scholars Program are automatically awarded $3,000 in federal work-study.
  • Scholarships— gift assistance awarded by ASU and private donors that recognizes exceptional achievement.
  • Outside Resources—funding received from outside sources that assists students in paying for their educational expenses.
  • All first time freshmen are expected to live on campus. If you do not confirm on campus housing through ASU’s housing portal, the maximum housing allowance you qualify for will be $1,300.
  • If you register and confirm on campus housing, your Obama Scholarship will be budgeted with the standardized allowance for on campus housing.
    • If your actual housing charge is lower than the standard allowance, the amount of your Obama Scholarship will be reduced to your actual housing charges.
    • If your actual housing charge is higher than the standard allowance, there will not be an increase to your Obama Scholarship for the difference.
  • For all continuing students, if your housing status (on/off/with parent) you selected on the FAFSA has changed, your Obama Scholarship will be adjusted to reflect that change in cost for housing and meals. You can view the standard allowances at our cost of attendance site.
  • All adjustments to Obama Scholarships, based on changes to housing status, will be made in July.

Sample Obama Scholars Financial Aid Package

Estimated Direct Costs for On-Campus Student* $26,148 $26,148 $26,148
Estimated Family Contribution (EFC)† ($2,000) ($2,000) $0
Federal Pell Grant† ($4,245) ($4,245) ($6,195)
Institutional Grants ($4,000) ($2,000) ($4,000)
Scholarships   ($8,000) ($14,000)
Federal Work-Study ($3,000) ($3,000) ($3,000)
ASU Obama Scholars Eligibility† $12,903 $6,903 $0
Total Gift Aid + FWS + EFC $26,148 $26,148 $26,148

* Direct costs include tuition, undergraduate college fee (including Barrett Honors fee), and student initiated fees, as well as standardized allowances for books/supplies, housing and meals (housing plans vary in cost). Amounts are for the 2019-2020 academic year.

† Example amount only; Pell Grant is determined by EFC.

‡ Example amount only; actual amounts of institutional grants are based on eligibility and available funding.

Studies show that students who receive coaching have a higher likelihood for success at the university and students enjoy multiple benefits. As part of our commitment to your success, all Obama Scholars are assigned a First-Year Success Coach. These highly successful upper-division ASU students will coach you to enjoy a smooth transition to ASU and a successful first year. Your coach will meet with you once a month and serve as your personal connector, cheerleader, and catalyst for success.

Students continuing in the ASU Obama Scholar Program must meet the following criteria:

  • You are required to successfully complete a minimum of 24 ASU credit hours during each academic year (a minimum of 12 credits in fall and spring semesters).
  • You must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.50 by the end of each academic year (by the end of spring semester) to continue in the program.
  • Your award package is available for up to eight full-time, consecutive fall and spring semesters. ASU recommends you enroll in 15 credit hours in order to complete your degree in four years.
  • You must remain Federal Pell Grant eligible.
  • If you are awarded scholarships or outside resources, you may have higher annual renewal criteria unique to those awards.
  • You must remain eligible for federal aid to participate in this program each year. Visit aid criteria for details.
  • You must maintain satisfactory academic progress; however, the GPA requirements of this program supersede the Satisfactory Academic Progress GPA.
  • ASU students are expected to abide by the Student Code of Conduct. Violation(s) of the Student Code of Conduct resulting in a suspension, expulsion or administrative withdrawal will result in loss of your scholarship. This decision may not be appealed. A student in violation is otherwise eligible to file the FAFSA and receive need-based aid.

Important Dates*

It is strongly recommended that you meet the following dates in order to continue in the Obama Scholars Program:

Jan. 15 - submit your FAFSA by Jan. 15 each year for continuation in the program. It must be free of errors. Apply early to resolve any errors before Jan. 15.

June 1 - You must confirm your ASU housing by June 1 for your housing assignment to be finalized by Aug. 1. If your housing assignment is not finalized by Aug. 1, your budget will be reduced to "with parent" housing and meal allowance and your awards will be adjusted accordingly.

July 1 - ASU will verify your FAFSA information. We recommend that you submit all documents required to complete the verification process by July 1 each year for continuation in the program. These documents must be complete and free of errors. Submit all requested documents early to resolve any errors or omissions before this date. If, after verification, you do not meet the program criteria, you will not be eligible for program participation for that and future semesters.


Students not meeting renewal criteria

  • ASU has annual cumulative ASU GPA and credit hour standards for renewal. Students who meet the 2.50 cumulative ASU GPA and 24 ASU credit hour requirements each year are fully renewed. Students not meeting those requirements will receive one year of probation at the full award amount. Failure to maintain the renewal criteria after the year of probation will result in a decrease of the award amount to tuition, fees and books. Students can be reinstated to the full award amount for the next academic year by achieving a 2.50 cumulative ASU GPA and completing 24 ASU credit hours at the end of any academic year. Every semester you receive Obama Scholars funding, or even a portion of funding, counts toward your eight total semesters of eligibility.
  • If you are not meeting the 2.50 cumulative ASU GPA and/or 24 ASU credit hour requirements after your one year of probation, you may enroll for ASU summer courses to remain eligible in the Obama Scholar program for the following academic year. Your Obama scholarship will not be available for the summer semester. We will conduct a final review of your academic records at the end of the summer session.
  • If you experience challenges throughout the year, such as difficulty with classes, time management, work or family responsibilities, or other co-curricular commitments, consult your academic advisor and use ASU resources to ensure you receive the guidance and assistance necessary to remain on track and continue to meet criteria for renewal and graduation.

Budget resources to pay for college

  • Once you’ve logged into My ASU your educational costs will automatically populate your Undergraduate Student Budget Worksheet helping you determine estimated expenses, as well as the possibility of the need for work or to borrow your offered loans.
  • Federal Work-Study opportunities, along with federally funded Direct Student Loans, are programs designed to help students invest in themselves and their education. You are encouraged to apply for on-campus employment if you have an offered FWS award. Use ASU's Job Search to view current job openings.
  • Low interest rate loans are also available to you as an additional self-help option. If you are eligible for student loans, they will be listed on your award letter and on My ASU. If you have any questions about financial aid, please contact Financial Aid and Scholarship Services at 480-965-3355.

Why does my gift aid not cover everything?

  • Remember, this program is designed to cover your direct costs, minus your EFC as determined from the FAFSA, with gift aid and FWS. In addition, if you made housing and meal plan selections that exceed our standard allowances, those costs are above the amount of gift aid and work-study provided for the program.
  • You may need to use your FWS award or accept loans you were offered in order to pay your remaining costs. Remember that work-study funds are disbursed as you work (i.e., in a paycheck) and not before the semester begins like most other aid. This means you may need to accept loans you were offered to pay your ASU charges in a timely manner. You may consider changing your housing and/or meal plan selections in order to minimize the amount you may need to work or borrow.