"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.

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

Back to top

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"

If you have experienced one of the situations above (other than job loss or income reduction), please visit our Forms page to download the Special Circumstances Form. Please email us at finaid@duke.edu for submission instructions.

Back to top

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 calculated family contribution from current income*

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

Back to top

  • 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 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 taxes for a reevaluation of your 23-24 aid. Please email us at finaid@duke.edu (or email your financial aid counselor) for submission instructions, including the student's name, student ID, financial aid ID, and any other information you feel may be important. You will be asked to submit your complete 2022 tax return, including all statements and schedules, and your complete 2022 W2s/wage statements.

Families should be aware that data is typically collected from the entire household who wishes to appeal on the basis of income loss (i.e. wage statements must be received for all wage earners) to determine the net change in household income for the current aid year. Applications submitted citing only one family member's change in earnings are not considered. This includes both the custodial and noncustodial parent in the case of divorce, unless the noncustodial parent's information has been waived.


For Changes Occurring in 2023

If you are experiencing a reduction in income in 2023, you may submit your 2023 taxes prior to March 4, 2024 for a reevaluation of your 23-24 financial aid. Tax returns received after March 4, 2024 will be used to evaluate aid eligibility for the 24-25 academic year. 

Please email us at finaid@duke.edu (students can also connect with your financial aid counselor) for submission instructions, including the student's name, student ID, financial aid ID, and any other information you feel may be important once your 2023 tax returns are available.

In order to submit an appeal, please take the following steps:

  • Gather your relevant documents. Please visit our What to Submit for an Appeal page to learn what documents may be helpful for an appeal.
  • Please email finaid@duke.edu (students can also connect with your financial aid counselor) to let them know you would like to submit an appeal. When you reach out, please include the student's name, student ID (for current students), financial aid ID (CBFinAid ID, for applicants), and any other information you feel may be important.
  • Current Duke students will see an item appear in their "To-Do" list in DukeHub with a link to upload appeal documents securely. Please upload all relevant documents at one time, including the cover sheet if instructed to do so.
  • 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.


Back to top