"I'd like to appeal for more grant aid. How do I do that?"

At Duke, we take the time to personally consider each individual family's financial circumstances.

We make every effort to be as accommodating as possible and to give you every benefit we can. When we share your financial aid offer with you, we have offered you all the considerations we can based on the information you shared.

If your family's financial circumstances have recently changed, however, or if there's important information you didn't include in your financial aid application, please let us know. We share information below to help you understand what we can and cannot consider in an appeal.

Special Circumstances

The following circumstances are automatically considered when evaluating your financial aid:

  • Federal, state, and other taxes
  • Medical expenses that are either
    • 4% of your total income or less, or
    • reported on your IRS Form 1040 Schedule A, line 1 (if you submitted taxes with your aid application)
  • Routine household expenses
  • Routine vehicle and travel expenses
  • Tuition expenses for children in private primary/secondary schools reported on the CSS Profile
  • Multiple children in college pursuing first-time undergraduate degrees
  • Previously reported special circumstances

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The following may qualify as a special circumstance:

  • Support of multiple households (married family members living apart, elder care, or care of family overseas)
  • One-time income
    • Withdrawal of retirement funds for emergency purposes
    • Moving allowances or similar expenses incurred and reimbursed by an employer
  • Funeral expenses or unreimbursed medical and dental expenses that are both
    • 5% of total income or more, and
    • Not reported on your IRS Form 1040 Schedule A (if previously provided)
  • Educational debt
    • Note: we will only consider parental educational debt that is currently in repayment, documented, and for students (parents and/or siblings) who are no longer enrolled
  • Job loss or significant reduction in income
    • If this is the case, please see the section below on "Special Considerations for Income Reductions or Job Loss"

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When determining financial aid eligibility, the following are not and will not be considered in our analysis, and therefore would not qualify as special circumstances:

  • Expenses related to
    • Pets
    • Housekeepers
    • Vacations
    • Weddings
    • Extracurricular Activities
  • Consumer Debt
  • Fraternity/sorority dues
  • Graduate school expenses for siblings and/or other family members
  • Financial aid offers from other institutions
  • Unwillingness to contribute to educational expenses
  • Inability to pay the estimated bill from current income*

*Please note: It is our expectation that families will use all resources available to them to finance the estimated bill including current salary, savings, investments, payment plans and parent loans if necessary.

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  • Duke's current policy regarding income reduction or job loss is to collect information once the calendar year has closed and the full impact can be assessed.
  • If you experienced a significant reduction in pay in the most recent tax year due to job loss/termination, wage/salary reduction, or mandatory furlough, we will reevaluate your financial aid when you are able to provide tax documents from that tax year so that all earnings information can be assessed.
  • How to Submit an Appeal: Please see "How to Submit an Appeal" in the section below. 
  • When considering financing options, we recommend looking into monthly payment options, additional federal student loans, federal parent loans, or other private/alternative loan options.  Find out more about your financing options, and contact us if you need assistance.


For Income Changes that Occurred in 2022

For current students seeking assistance in the 2023-2024 aid year:

If your family experienced a significant reduction in pay in 2022, you may submit your family's 2022 Federal Tax Return for a reevaluation of your 23-24 aid.

For Changes Occurring in 2023

If you are experiencing a reduction in income in 2023, you may submit your 2023 Federal Tax Return for a reevaluation of your financial aid offer.

In order to submit an appeal, please complete our Special Circumstances Request Form. Here you will find detailed instructions on our appeal process, required documentation and timelines.

Appeals generally take 8-10 business days for processing, and this time frame may change depending on the volume of appeals we receive. Please wait to hear back before checking in regarding the status of your appeal.


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Unusual Circumstances

Unusual circumstances, as defined by the FAFSA Simplification Act, refer to conditions that may warrant a change to your dependency status when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The following may qualify as an unusual circumstance:

  • Victims of human trafficking
  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status
  • Parental abandonment or estrangement
  • Parental incarceration

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Unusual circumstances do not typically include:

  • Parents refusal to contribute to a student’s education
  • Parents will not provide information on the CSS Profile, FAFSA, or for federal verification
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Demonstrates total self-sufficiency by student

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To be considered for an unusual circumstance you must complete the Unusual Circumstance (Independent Status) Request Form. At the time you submit the form you will be asked to upload the following:

  • A written explanation regarding your family circumstances, and
  • A copy of your most recent tax return (if you filed), and
  • Two (2) Affidavits from individuals who have known you a minimum of three years, if possible, who will attest to your situation. (e.g., other adult relatives, clergy, teachers, counselors, social workers)

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You should expect to hear from us within approximately three weeks after you have submitted your request with appropriate documentation.

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