At Duke, we work to ensure that financial aid is distributed equitably based on calculated financial need. Below is a summary of the policies and guidelines we use when reviewing financial aid applications and information.

Guiding Principles

When awarding undergraduate financial aid, Duke adheres to the following principles:

  • To the extent they are able, parents and students have the primary responsibility to contribute to educational expenses before Duke awards financial aid. 
  • Families should contribute to educational expenses according to their ability. Those with similar financial profiles should contribute similar amounts. 
  • Both income and assets, including business income and assets, are part of the assessment of the parents' and applicants' ability to pay. 
  • Institutional aid is awarded on the basis of financial need as determined by the information provided on an applicant's CSS Profile and supporting tax and wage information.

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How Your Contribution is Determined

An Expected Family Contribution (or EFC) is calculated for all students who have completed both the FAFSA and Profile and submitted any requested tax and W-2 forms to Duke. Duke uses this information to determine how much a family will be expected to pay toward the cost of education each year.


A family's contribution from income is based on two years prior to the student's entry to college (for example, if a student plans to attend Duke in 2024-25, we use financial information from tax year 2022).  Duke then takes a family's total income (taxed and untaxed) for the year and provides the following allowances: 

  • Actual federal and FICA taxes paid
  • Standard state and local taxes (which may differ depending on state of residence)
  • Unusually high non-insured medical expenses (if reported on line 1 of Schedule A of the 1040)
  • Private elementary and secondary school tuition up to a prescribed limit for siblings
  • Basic living expenses such as housing, food, clothing, transportation, insurance, etc., adjusted for living expenses in different parts of the country
  • An education savings allowance to recognize the need to save for younger children’s future college education

The calculation for the basic living allowance figure comes from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, which reflects actual family spending patterns for moderate living standards. These standards are based on the number of family members in the household and the number of family members in college. Duke uses these standards in an effort to provide the most equitable treatment possible for families of similar income levels. Because of this, the allowance will not necessarily reflect your family’s actual living expenses.

In addition to the parent contribution, students are expected to contribute to their educational costs as well. At Duke, students will have a minimum expected contribution as follows: 

Year in SchoolMinimum Contribution
First year$2,600
Second year$2,900
Third year$3,000
Fourth year$3,000

The only circumstances that will enable a waiver or reduction of the minimum student contribution are as follows:

  • A student enrolls in a Duke summer school course or study abroad program and qualifies for institutional need-based aid during that session (Duke students may receive aid for a maximum of two summer sessions. Only these first two sessions of enrollment may qualify for a contribution reduction or waiver)
  • A student participates in a summer-long Duke Engage program
  • A student participates in a summer-long experience through Bass Connections 
  • A student majoring in Public Policy or Global Health participates in the mandatory summer Public Policy or Global Health internship


Duke also considers assets in determining the parent contribution. We first protect a portion of parental assets and then consider no more than 5% of the remaining amount. Home equity is included in Duke's analysis, although the amount of home equity considered is capped based on parent income level. Money in retirement funds such as 401k, 403b, and IRA accounts are always excluded from consideration.

Siblings in College

Duke adjusts the expected contribution for families receiving need-based aid with multiple students in college at the same time. The Parent Contribution is adjusted to 60% of the full calculated contribution for families who have two children in college and to 45% of the full calculated contribution for those with three children in college.  Please see the notes below for the guidelines regarding these adjustments.

Duke Exceptions to the Above:

  • Siblings attending two-year community college programs are not considered 
  • Siblings over the age of 24 are not considered unless they are clearly supported 100% by the Duke applicant’s family and are completing a four-year undergraduate degree
  • Siblings enrolled in U.S. military academies where all costs are born by the U.S. government are not considered for either the institutional or the federal needs analysis
  • Siblings receiving full athletic or merit aid from their institution are not considered. Note: this does not include siblings receiving need-based aid regardless of the amount of the aid
  • Siblings enrolled at the graduate level are not considered for institutional need determination
  • A parent’s attendance at college is never considered in the determination of need, either institutional or federal

Special Circumstances

If you have circumstances that may not be reflected on the information supplied to our office, we may be able to help. Please read below on what is automatically considered in your aid award, what we can consider, what cannot be considered, and the special considerations given as a result of a job loss or reduction in income.

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
  • Routine household expenses
  • Routine vehicle and travel expenses
  • Tuition expenses for children in private primary/secondary schools
  • Multiple children in college
  • Previously reported special circumstances

When determining financial aid eligibility, the following qualify as special circumstances and should be included in a letter at the time of application or at the time the event occurs:

  • 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
  • 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 Special Circumstances site to download and submit the Special Circumstances Form. For a given academic year, the deadline for submitting special circumstances documentation is near the end of February.

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.

Special Considerations for Income Reductions or Job Loss

If you've experienced a significant reduction in pay in the current year due to one of the qualifying events listed below, we will reevaluate your financial aid in January, once all earnings information from the year can be assessed. For the 24-25 academic year, this means that you cannot request a special circumstance review for income reductions or a job loss that occurred in 2024 until January 1, 2025, and your completed 2024 tax returns and W2's should be submitted prior to March 1, 2025. Your 24-25 financial aid award (including the fall semester) will not change until after the evaluation of your 2024 tax information, at which point it will be retroactively adjusted based on your finalized financial information for the year.  We understand this may result in a financial burden for the fall semester, and we will work with you to determine the best financing options available until your financial aid award can be reevaluated.

The following events will qualify you for reevaluation of your financial aid when finalized documentation is available regarding your earnings from the prior year:

  • Job loss/termination
  • Wage/salary reduction
  • Mandatory furlough

Please Note: If you are a business owner, reductions in income as a result of business operations cannot be considered under the special circumstance process unless your tax returns for your family and all businesses can be completed and submitted to our office. 

For non-business owners, families should be aware that data must be 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 members change in earnings will not be considered.

When considering financing options, we recommend looking into monthly payment options, additional federal student loans, federal parent loans, or other private/alternative loan options. Contact us if you need assistance.

To receive a re-evaluation of your aid based on an income reduction or job loss, please email us at or contact your financial aid counselor directly.

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In cases of separation or divorce, we expect both parents to participate in paying for a student’s education. We will compute separate contributions for custodial and noncustodial parents, using the same institutional methodology in each case. A contribution for each parent will be combined to establish the parent contribution.

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Types of Aid

Once need has been determined, Duke's Undergraduate Financial Aid Office creates an aid package to meet that financial need. Aid packages generally include two forms of assistance: grant/scholarship funds and self-help. Duke grant funds comprise the main portion of most need-based grant awards; federal, state and local grant funds are also included as appropriate. Self-help funds are offered in the form of low-interest, deferred-payment, subsidized loans, and work-study eligibility.

Duke Need-based Grants and Scholarships

The majority of assistance offered by Duke is in the form of need-based grants and scholarships. These funds do not have to be repaid and are calculated based on information from the CSS Profile and accompanying documentation. Students receiving need-based grants or scholarships from Duke are largely supported through endowments established by donors, and students receiving these awards may be asked to write thank-you letters to individual donors after receiving these awards.

Self Help 

The amount of loan in each student’s package varies depending on the family’s income.  In 2023-2024, Duke offered the following loan amounts for families earning: 

Total IncomeLoan Award
under $40,000$0
$40,001 & $55,000$2,000
$55,001 & $70,000$3,000
$70,001 & $85,000$4,000
Over $85,001$5,000

Academic Year Work-Study Awards

The self-help portion included in each financial aid package always includes a job award through the Federal or Duke University Work Study program. Duke will include the following work-study awards in each 2024-2025 package:

Year in SchoolWork Study Amount
First year$2,200
Second year$2,200
Third year$2,200
Fourth year$2,200

Outside Scholarships

Outside scholarships provide an important benefit to students who are receiving need-based financial aid from Duke.  Students attending Duke University who have been awarded aid through federal or university funding (including need-based, merit, and/or athletic sources) are required to report all outside scholarships received to the Financial Aid Office.  Students who receive outside scholarships and who receive need-based self-help (work study and loan) funds in their aid award will have these funds reduced first. University grant funds will only be reduced once the self-help amount has been reduced or if no self-help was awarded. The Parent and Student Contributions do not change with the addition of outside scholarships in most cases*. 


  • Veterans benefits may be in addition to Duke aid, up to the full cost of attendance. These benefits are an exception to the policy above. Lean more about veterans benefits here.
  • Students with no expected parent contribution as determined by the CSS Profile may have outside scholarships replace the minimum student contribution.
  • Tuition benefits from an employer replace Duke aid dollar-for-dollar and do not reduce the loan or work-study in the initial offer.

Additionally, outside scholarships cannot replace a loan or work-study requested in addition to the initial award offer. Only self help included in your initial aid offer can be reduced by outside scholarships before replacing University grants.

Submitting Outside Scholarship Checks 

If the check is made payable to the student and Duke (and the organization chooses not to send the check directly to the student), it should be given to the cashier’s office. 

Students may mail checks to:

    Duke University Cashiering 
    PO Box 90759
    Durham, NC  27708

The funds will be applied directly to the University bill. Outside scholarships are evenly distributed between fall and spring semesters unless the donor agency specifies otherwise. 

Tuition Benefits

Some employers, including Duke University, offer tuition benefit programs for employees and/or their dependents. Students attending Duke University who have been awarded aid through federal or university funding (including need-based, merit, and/or athletic sources) are required to report all tuition benefits received to the Financial Aid Office.  Unlike outside scholarships, tuition benefits reduce Duke need-based grants first. The parent and student contributions do not change with the addition of tuition benefits, though it is possible for the tuition benefit to exceed a student’s demonstrated need.  Students who receive need-based, merit, or athletic aid in combination with a tuition benefit may not receive assistance that exceeds the cost of attendance.  Duke employees with questions about their tuition benefit eligibility or reporting should contact their Human Resources representative.

Federal and State Grants

In addition to outside scholarships, students may be eligible to receive need-based funding from government agencies. The federal government provides Federal Pell Grants as well as Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG). Some states, including Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, also often provide funding to college-bound state residents based on financial need. You are expected to apply for all funds for which you may be eligible. If you are eligible for government grants but fail to apply for or accept such funds, Duke is not obligated to cover the resulting shortfall with institutional funds. By filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), students are automatically considered for the federal grants.

Federal and state grants are considered to be direct resources meeting a student’s financial need. These grants do not reduce the family contribution.

Taxable Scholarships

Scholarships and grants (gift aid) are subject to federal and state laws. Funds used for required expenses such as tuition and fees, books and supplies (including equipment), are tax exempt, while funds used for expenses such as housing and food are considered taxable income. Students are responsible for proper tax reporting and any payment that may be due. Students will receive a 1098-T tax statement from the Bursar. The 1098-T contains information necessary to determine eligibility for the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning federal tax credits. Please refer to for further information about federal tax responsibilities and credits.

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Cost and Budgeting

Student Budget (Cost of Attendance)

The standard student budget applies to the typical Duke undergraduate student: unmarried, financially dependent on parents, living in a residence hall or off campus, and attending full-time for fall and spring. It includes tuition, fees, housing, food, an average amount for books, supplies, and personal expenses, and a transportation allowance based on the estimated cost of two home trips per academic year for U.S. residents or one home trip for residents overseas. Your actual costs may differ from the standard student budget.

The Aid Office will consider requests for budget adjustments for actual and documented expenses above the standard allowance for books and supplies, transportation costs, required health insurance, and medical or dental expenses incurred during the academic year and not covered by insurance. Expenses outside these categories are considered discretionary, and allowances for them will not be made. For example, the Aid Office will not make allowances for costs associated with owning or maintaining an automobile. Students should submit requests for a revised budget evaluation  in writing, accompanied by documentation such as bills and insurance statements. In most cases, the Aid Office will offer additional job or loan eligibility to help students cover documented expenses that fall outside the standard budget.

2023-2024 Estimated Cost of Attendance (Before Financial Aid)

1st-year Undergraduate Student

Billed Costs 


Estimated Fees$2,722
Total Billed Expenses 85,238


Estimate of other expenses

These expense estimates are not billed and actual costs will vary by student 
Books, Course Materials, Supplies, & Equipment$536

Miscellaneous Personal Expenses**

Transportation (domestic)$582-$1,318, depending on home address

Estimated Cost of Attendance (Total Costs): $89,630-$90,366

* The Estimated Cost of Attendance is our best approximation of what each student at Duke would need to cover basic expenses for nine months before any financial aid is applied. You can find more information about costs and fees on the Bursar's website.

**Miscellaneous Personal Expenses include items like laundry, clothing, snacks, personal care items, etc.


2023-2024 Estimated Cost of Attendance (Before Financial Aid)

Returning Undergraduate Students

Billed Costs 


Estimated Fees$2,542
Total Billed Expenses 84,014


Estimate of other expenses

These expense estimates are not billed and actual costs will vary by student 
Books, Course Materials, Supplies, & Equipment$536

Miscellaneous Personal Expenses**

Transportation (domestic)$582-$1,318, depending on home address

Estimated Cost of Attendance (Total Costs): $88,406-$89,142

*Personal expenses represent spending money and other costs that students may want to consider when arriving on campus. When determining the level of aid, we use the total costs we think a student may incur (billed and unbilled). This means that your aid is based on the billed costs and the personal expenses, book, and transportation estimates. We calculate transportation costs for every student based on the home state of residence (or country of residence if living abroad), which is why a range is represented in the table above.

To determine unbilled costs, Duke surveys undergraduate students every three years regarding their personal expenses as well as books course materials, supplies and equipment. See details on transportation costs below.

Read below for more information on each item we consider.

Housing Charge

For students on financial aid, housing charges will be adjusted to reflect the actual cost of housing, and grant aid will be adjusted accordingly. Adjustments are made once a semester, usually in October and February.

Food Costs

Food amounts are based on meal plan prices set by Dining Services. First year students are budgeted for dining plan I and returning students are budgeted for dining plan D, both of which cover three meals a day, seven days a week. If the chosen meal plan costs less than the amount budgeted, the remaining funds should be used to buy food outside of the dining halls. Students selecting a meal plan that costs more than these standard plans cannot receive grant assistance from Duke to cover the increased charge.


Transportation costs are determined according to the parents' state of residence and are added to each student's budget. These allowances represent either two economy-class round-trip airline tickets or a fuel allowance for those whose parents reside in states bordering North Carolina. Transportation amounts for students living abroad are based on one economy-class round-trip ticket per year. Students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements and are generally expected to utilize their summer work contribution to cover the up-front costs of travel. For questions, please contact us.

Travel costs are budgeted in the survey year by determining the cost of an economy round-trip ticket from each state’s major airport hub to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU). Dates are selected with an August departure date in keeping with the start of the academic calendar and a return to the home airport the day after the end of the exam period. This amount is doubled to account for two round-trip tickets for domestic students. Students residing in North Carolina will have their transportation estimated based on milage and gas rates in the sample year. International travel is surveyed as a round-trip ticket from the major airport in the country of origin to RDU. Local transportation is provided through free passes to Duke and Durham’s city bus system and thus not a factor in the transportation cost of attendance.

Other Costs

Health Insurance Fee

All registered students may seek medical care at the Student Health Center, regardless of what kind of health insurance students may have. Most of the services at the Student Health Center are free of charge. For all medical care outside of the Center, students must have health insurance. For this reason, the University requires that all registered students have health insurance.

To help students meet this requirement, the University offers a comprehensive health insurance plan covering a wide range of services. Duke automatically enrolls students in this program at the start of the fall semester, unless students waive coverage by the deadline and provide proof of other health insurance coverage. For additional information on waiving the health insurance charge be sure to look at our health insurance page.

The Financial Aid Office does not automatically include the cost of health insurance for undergraduate students in the cost of attendance, except for international students and for those determined to be financially independent. The Aid Office assumes the parents’ health insurance plans cover the student, and those costs have been considered when establishing the expected parent contribution. However, if this assumption is not correct, allowances can be made and assistance may be available. Students should contact their financial aid counselor for more information on the types of assistance available.

Computer Purchases

Duke does not require all students to purchase a computer, thus it is not included in the cost of attendance. If a student wants to purchase a computer and wishes to borrow funds to cover the expense, he or she can contact the Financial Aid Office for options to do so. Students can also purchase computers through the Duke University Computer Store and make monthly installment payments over the four-year period of enrollment, though interest charges apply.

Students with limited financial resources as identified by the CSS Profile are eligible for computer support through Duke’s first generation and low-income support office, DukeLIFE. Eligible students will be notified of their opportunity for laptop support at the time of admission. 

Living Off Campus

The housing budget for a student living off campus is based on the shared room rate on West Campus.  Once all aid has been disbursed to the student account and all charges on the Duke bill paid, if there is a remaining credit balance, the student will receive a refund check for the remaining amount. These funds can be used to pay off-campus expenses.

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Applying for Aid

Duke requires that all undergraduate aid applicants submit the CSS Profile, tax, wage, and business information in order to be considered for need-based institutional grant. U.S. citizens and permanent residents are also required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 


Types of Applicants

Duke University views its financial aid program as an investment in students and their futures. We seek a diverse student body and are committed to ensuring aided students can take full advantage of the Duke experience. To that end, Duke admits U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and a limited number of international students without regard to financial circumstance or aid eligibility and meets 100 percent of each admitted student's demonstrated need for eight academic semesters of potential undergraduate enrollment. 

Transfer Students
The number of terms of aid eligibility for students transferring to Duke is based on up to eight academic terms less the amount of academic credit granted by the University. For instance, a student transferring in as a sophomore would have six semesters, a junior would have four semesters, etc. This policy will allow all transfer students the necessary number of terms of aid eligibility for their degree completion.

Married Students
Marital status does not usually affect dependency status for the purpose of awarding Duke financial aid. We generally expect a parent contribution toward educational expenses as well as a contribution from a spouse, if the spouse is not enrolled in college. A single student’s standard budget is used to compute financial aid eligibility as a married applicant. The budget will differ, however, for students living with dependent children.

International Students
Financial resources for international students are limited. Each year Duke University expects to enroll 20 to 25 international students whose full demonstrated need has been met with a university-provided need-based aid package. All international applicants admitted with "no financial aid interest" and all international transfer students will be ineligible to apply for financial aid for any year of undergraduate study.

International applicants requesting need-based financial aid will be required to complete and submit the College Board’s Profile using their family’s most recent foreign tax forms. Applicants should also submit current foreign tax returns (converted into US dollars) and an English language statement from their parents’ employers stating the amount of their annual income. All required tax documents should be submitted directly to the Financial Aid Office. We encourage international students applying for need-based aid to detail any financial difficulties that affect their family’s ability to support their educational expenses.

All foreign nationals, including winners of Duke merit scholarships, must document the available funding for their education by completing and submitting the Certificate of Financial Responsibility (CFR), which is sent by the Admissions Office upon admission.

Scholarship support in excess of tuition, books, and fees is federally taxable. We encourage all international students to file a U.S. income tax return as soon as they receive their U.S. tax statement 1042S for taxable scholarships and W-2 forms for wages earned. An Individual Taxpayer Identification number (ITIN) is required for all international students to receive scholarship funds.

Students receiving any kind of University financial aid/scholarship (need, merit, or athletic) are also required to complete a Foreign National Form and a payroll certification. The Foreign National Form can be completed at the Undergraduate Financial Aid Office while the Payroll Certification must be completed. Sessions are offered at the beginning of each term to facilitate completion of these forms in one location.

Please note that all international students admitted without financial aid are expected to fully fund their studies while at Duke University. Financial aid will not be available in later years. Duke cannot assume financial responsibility for international factors such as currency fluctuations in determining financial aid. Additionally, Duke cannot make up foregone resources such as lost support from friends or relatives or any decision to decline outside aid.

Independent Students

In determining financial need and scholarship eligibility, we consider parents’ income and assets unless students are orphans, wards of the court, or have an extreme adverse home situation. We expect the student and his or her parents (and any spouse, in the case of married students) to assume primary responsibility for a student’s educational expenses.

Students will be considered independent for federal grant (Pell Grant) and loan (Direct Sub/Unsub) purposes if they meet the following conditions:
•    Are 24 years of age or older
•    Active Duty member or Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
•    Ward of the court or both parents are deceased
•    Married
•    Graduate or professional student
•    Have legal dependents, according to federal definition. 

Students with Divorced or Separated Parents
Duke's policy for determining the financial need of students from divorced or separated families is based on the general principle that parents are responsible for the post-secondary education of their children to the extent they are financially able.  Analysis begins with the custodial family unit and then additional information is sought concerning the non-custodial family unit. In the case of remarriage of either or both natural parents, the standard approach would be to request information from all parents and spouses. Generally, a contribution from the income and assets of no more than two parents will be expected. As with students whose parents are married to each other, ability to pay, not willingness, will be used to determine the contribution.  Both parents must complete a CSS Profile.

If a parent or student requests the information of the second parent be waived, a waiver form must be completed. If the financial aid committee approves the waiver, the family is notified in writing.

The parent with whom the student received the most financial support in the last 12 months must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile Form and must submit tax returns and W-2 forms to our office. For applicants, this document submission process is managed by the College Board's IDOC service.

The parent who did not complete the FAFSA must complete a separate CSS Profile (online) and submit a copy of his or her most recent federal income tax return with W-2 forms to the College Board's IDOC service. If either parent owns a business and files a tax return for that business, a copy of the partnership/corporate return should also be included in the documents submitted to IDOC. 

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Paying Your Bill

Meeting the Parent Contribution

The Financial Aid Office understands paying for college is not easy and requires some level of sacrifice for every family. With this in mind, the Aid Office has created an array of options we believe will be helpful to families from a wide variety of financial circumstances.

Duke encourages each family to create an individualized strategy that fits their circumstances and takes advantage of a number of the options now available. When developing a strategy, the Aid Office encourages families to consider paying for college over a longer period than the four years a student will be enrolled. Just as with other family expenses, paying over time creates flexibility and enhances the family's buying power.

Some options to consider include: 

Short-Term Payment Plan 
Duke University offers a payment plan through Nelnet. This option allows students and parents to make monthly payments over the course of the year rather than making a large, single payment or taking out more loans than a family may need.  

Parent PLUS
Parent loan and financing options may help parents meet the expected contribution. These options are also available to families who do not qualify for financial aid but wish to spread out the payment of educational costs over time. Federal Direct PLUS loans are available for parents to borrow up to the full cost of attendance, less the amount of financial aid received, from the Department of Education. The Student Loan Office must certify enrollment and eligibility for the PLUS loan.  

The PLUS loan has a fixed interest rate, and repayment begins within sixty days of the disbursement of funds and may extend up to 10 years.  By federal regulation, disbursements are made on a semester basis. PLUS Loan applications are processed in the summer prior to the fall term, which allows sufficient time for funds to be available by the fall semester due date. 

Financial Aid Funds Disbursement
All financial aid funds will disburse in even halves each semester, including student loans. For example, an annual Direct loan of $3,500 has two $1,750 disbursements at the beginning of each semester. 

Several types of financial aid are reflected on the university bill. They include:
•    Funds from university, federal, and state scholarships and grants
•    Outside scholarship/grants received by the Bursar’s Office 
•    Loan proceeds (considered anticipated aid until the funds are received from the lender and enrollment is certified)

If credits from university, federal, and state scholarships, grants, and loans exceed the charges on your bill, a refund check for the excess amount will be issued.

Earnings from on-campus employment are paid twice each month and are based on actual hours worked. These funds are paid directly to the student and not credited to the student account.

Scholarship and loan funds are disbursed to the student account only when all of the following requirements are met:
•    Enrollment in classes is confirmed 
•    Application procedures are complete 
•    In the case of outside awards and loans, when the funds have been received at Duke. 
Please note: Aid awards will appear as “anticipated aid” on your student account until they can be disbursed.

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Registration, Enrollment, Withdrawal, and Return of Funds

Financial Aid Requirements

Recipients of financial aid at Duke are required to enroll in classes each semester, meeting the deadlines and procedures established by the University Registrar’s Office. Duke expects undergraduates to enroll for and complete a minimum of three course units per term to maintain financial aid eligibility for University scholarship funds.  Eligibility for federal aid, Federal Work Study, SEOG, and Federal Direct loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized), requires enrollment in a minimum of two course units. The Federal Pell Grant program requires three course units per term for a full-time grant. Aid will not be disbursed until a student has been enrolled for the required number of units, and university funding will not be increased to adjust for any shortfall in the aid award due to failure to enroll in a sufficient number of units. Students will be required to pay full tuition unless granted an exception by the Registrar’s Office for medical reasons, terminal semester, or other circumstances. Any sanctioned exceptions to full-time enrollment will be reflected in the financial aid award notice. Students auditing classes are not eligible to receive financial aid funds.

Withdrawing or Leaving Before the End of the Semester

Students who receive financial aid funds at Duke and subsequently withdraw (for any reason) should be aware of the repercussions withdrawing will have on their financial aid in the current semester and in future semesters. Financial aid is awarded to a student under the assumption that the student will attend school for the entire period for which the assistance is awarded.

Federal Financial Aid and Return of Title IV Funds (R2T4)

The federal government mandates that students who withdraw or fail to complete all scheduled classes within a term may only keep the financial aid they have “earned” up to the time of withdrawal. Any unearned aid must be returned regardless of if it’s already been disbursed. This situation could result in the student owing aid funds to the University, the government, or both. The higher the number of class days completed, the lower the amount of financial aid that must be returned.

After the 60% point in the semester, a student has earned 100% of the Title IV federal funds the student was scheduled to receive during the period.

The formula to determine the percentage of aid earned is: the number of days completed up to the withdrawal date divided by the total days in the scheduled period of enrollment or term (any break of five days or more is not counted as part of the days in the term).

Any balance that a student may owe would depend on the amount of funding received, the date of withdrawal, the student’s charges, and if he/she is entitled to any refund of tuition and fees for the semester from which he/she is withdrawing. Even if there is a refund of tuition and fees, there may still be a balance owed to Duke after the Return to Title IV calculation has been processed.

Refunds of tuition and fees, if applicable, can result in a student first receiving a refund and then owing a balance. Any resulting remaining balance must be paid to Duke.

Financial Aid must calculate any percentage owed and return the unearned percentage of federal aid within 45 days of withdrawal. Students are notified by email that their financial aid award has been reduced per federal guidelines.

Unearned funds are returned to the federal government in the following order:

  • Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loans
  • Subsidized Direct Stafford Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Federal Plus Loans
  • Direct Plus Loans
  • Federal Pell Grants for which a Return of funds is required
  • Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants (SEOG) for which a Return of funds is required

Institutional Aid

If a student withdraws after classes have begun, the financial aid administrator will determine how much of the semester has been completed. This will be used to figure the amount of institutional aid the student has earned, and how much aid may be kept. 

Full R2T4 Policy Information

For a full description of Duke's R2T4 policies, including process, timeline, and responsible parties, see the following document.



Types of Withdrawals

Official Withdrawal

An Official Withdrawal refers to dropping all courses and no longer attending the university for a specific term. Students who wish to officially withdraw should do so through the Duke University Registrar’s Office in accordance with Trinity College of Arts and Sciences or Pratt School of Engineering Policies.

Unofficial Withdrawal

Students who receive all failing or non-passing grades for a semester are assumed to have ceased attendance and are considered an “unofficial withdrawal.” Students may be billed for some or all aid received. Students receiving all non-passing grades for a semester should contact the Office of Financial Support immediately for assistance. Federal regulations require schools to calculate a return of financial aid based on attendance. If a student withdraws from the semester either officially (all W’s), or unofficially (all non-passing letter grades), Duke will use a calculation to determine what types and amounts of financial aid will be returned to the appropriate program. The calculation takes into consideration the last date of attendance, tuition and fees, institutional housing, meal charges and the type of aid received by the student. The last date of attendance is determined by the professor when final grades are submitted.

Retaining Eligibility for Financial Aid

Please note that withdrawing may have an effect on your Satisfactory Academic Progress. When students withdraw at any time during a semester, their financial aid will be cancelled for future terms. Students will need to contact the Office of Financial Support if they return for future terms, in order to have aid reinstated, if eligible. Students who do not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress must submit an appeal to the Office of Financial Support.

All students must continue to meet the requirements for eligibility that were necessary for them to receive an offer of assistance. This includes being admitted to, and completing courses in, a degree program. Students cannot be in default on previously received federal financial aid. All other criteria, as defined by the rules and regulations of Duke University and the federal government, must be met.

Post-Withdrawal Disbursement

A post-withdrawal disbursement, a type of late disbursement, applies to a student who withdraws completely from school. The amount of the disbursement is determined by the Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation required when a student withdraws from school. All post-withdrawal disbursements must also meet late disbursement conditions. A student may not receive any funds as a post-withdrawal disbursement that we were prohibited from making on or before the date the student withdrew.

Post-withdrawal disbursements may be credited to a student’s account to pay toward current tuition, fees, housing, and food up to the amount of outstanding charges. Authorization must be received from the student (or parent borrower) either before or after the student’s withdrawal date to credit the student’s account with Title IV funds for minor prior award year charges of $200 or less.

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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Federal regulations require that, in order to be eligible for assistance from any Federal Title IV student aid program (Federal Pell Grant, Federal SEOG, Federal Work-Study, Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Direct/PLUS Loan, and State Student Incentive Grant Programs) a student must be making satisfactory academic progress.

The standards which follow govern eligibility for Federal Title IV programs only.  Duke’s policy is to aid all enrolled students to the extent of their need; consequently, a student who may be ineligible for federal programs as a result of the application of these standards may continue to receive aid from other funds administered by the University.  University grant dollars will replace lost federal Pell and FSEOG dollars, and university loan dollars will replace lost federal loan dollars.  The only exception to this rule is when a student was eligible to receive Pell Grant funding over and above the cost of attendance prior to failing SAP guidelines; the university will not replace this federal funding.

Please note also that these standards do not replace or supersede individual schools’ regulations and procedures affecting academic standing, which are stated in the Undergraduate Academic Bulletin.

For the purpose of Title IV financial aid eligibility only, the standards of satisfactory academic progress for students enrolled in full-time undergraduate programs are as follows:

  • The student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 1.6588 or higher after completing their second academic year, and at each SAP assessment point thereafter; and
  • In order to continue to receive financial aid, a student must complete his or her program of study before 150% of the credits required to graduate have been attempted.  Since 34 credits is required to graduate, this makes the 150% point at 51 credits.  Attempted credits from all enrollment periods plus all accepted transfer credits are counted. All terms of enrollment are included whether or not the student received financial aid and regardless of the age of the coursework.
  • Students must receive satisfactory grades in at least 67% of the cumulative credits they attempt. Credits with satisfactory grades are those for which a grade of A, B, C, D, S or P is earned. All coursework is included in this calculation.  Accepted transfer credits are counted as both attempted and completed.  Cumulative completion rates of 66.66% or higher will be rounded up to 67%.

Satisfactory Academic Progress will be reviewed once each year after grades post at the end of the spring semester.  A student who fails to meet any of the standards described above will no longer be eligible to receive any Title IV federal aid until they are once again satisfying all SAP requirements or have submitted an appeal that has been approved. 

Appeal Process

A student who becomes ineligible for Title IV assistance should appeal the determination if they believe there were extraordinary circumstances that prohibited them from meeting SAP guidelines.  A letter of appeal outlining the basis on which they are appealing the termination of federal student aid should be submitted by the student either in writing or via email directly to their counselor who will forward all information to the Title IV appeals committee.   Supporting documentation, including a letter of support from the student’s academic dean, is helpful but not required.  Students may also submit other documentation that supports their appeal from medical professionals, counselors, or other third-party professionals (non-family members) who understand the details of the situation.  Students should also include an explanation of what has changed in their situation that will allow them to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation. 

The appeal will be reviewed by a committee who will review the student’s academic progress in light of any extenuating circumstances and make a determination regarding whether the student’s federal Title IV aid eligibility can be reinstated.  The decision will be documented in the student’s financial aid record. 


Financial Aid Probation and Academic Plan

If the appeal decision is to reinstate the student’s eligibility for Title IV funds, the student may be placed on probation for one term on the condition that the student is required to achieve minimum SAP standards at the end of the probationary semester.  If it is mathematically impossible to achieve the minimum SAP standards by the end of the probationary period but possible for the student to meet all SAP guidelines prior to their scheduled graduation date, the institution can place the student on an academic plan instead of probation.  The Director of Compliance will develop an academic plan that, if followed by the student, will ensure that the student is able to meet the university’s academic progress standards prior to the student’s scheduled graduation date and allow them to continue to receive Federal financial aid funds.

The student may continue to receive Title IV aid during the probationary/academic plan term.  If the student has not met satisfactory academic progress standards by the end of the probationary term, or if the conditions of the academic plan are not met each semester, the student will become ineligible for further Title IV aid until meeting SAP standards once again or they have submitted another appeal that has been approved.  There is no limit to the number of SAP appeals a student may submit. 

At the end of the spring semester each academic year, the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid will notify students who have failed to meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements as quickly as possible.  For students enrolled in summer term #1 coursework, the notification may not occur until after the add/drop deadline for summer term #1 has already passed.  In cases such as these, it may be necessary to adjust a student’s aid package to remove federal Title IV aid after it has already been disbursed to their student account.

Incompletes, Withdrawals, Noncredit Remedial Courses and Transfer Credits

Courses with grades of (I)ncomplete or (W)ithdrawn will be counted as courses attempted but not completed.  Noncredit remedial courses will be counted as neither courses attempted nor completed.  Credits transferred from another institution shall be counted as both attempted and completed.

Repeated Courses

Courses with grades of a D-, D, or D+ can be repeated with permission from the Academic Dean.  The grade earned in the repeated course as well as the grade earned originally appear on the transcript; both grades count in the grade point average, but the credit for only one counts toward the required number of courses for continuation and the 34 courses required for graduation.

Academic Amnesty

Academic Amnesty is the concept whereby students apply to have credits attempted or grades earned excluded from the GPA calculation.  At Duke, all grades that appear on the record, with the exception of (S)atisfactory and (U)nsatisfactory, are included in the calculation of the cumulative grade point average.  There is no exception, and there is no appeal process.

Loss of Financial Aid Eligibility

A student becomes ineligible for all federal student aid funds if Duke’s SAP review indicates he or she does not meet the required GPA, is not maintaining the required pace, has exceeded or is expected to exceed the permitted maximum time frame, and has exhausted our stated appeal process and allowable probationary/academic plan period. 

Communication of Status

Students will be notified via email after the end of each spring semester if their financial aid status relating to Satisfactory Academic progress is unsatisfactory and they have consequently lost eligibility to receive Title IV aid.  The process for appeal will be included in the email when notifying students that their SAP status is unsatisfactory after spring semester grades post each year.  After submitting a SAP appeal, students will be notified of the outcome within 10 business days via their Duke Student email account.   If the appeal is approved, we will communicate directly with the student whether they have been placed in a probationary status or academic plan status along with the associated consequences and requirements.  If the appeal is denied, we will communicate this to the student as well including the reason why the appeal could not be approved.

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Additional Semesters of Aid

Every Duke student may receive financial aid for up to eight academic terms and two summer terms. The summer terms must be used for official Duke-sponsored Summer Study Abroad Programs or for attendance at Duke summer school programs (including enrollment at the Marine Lab).  Summer terms must be taken prior to the completion of a student's graduation requirements; students who do not utilize the two summer terms of aid eligibility prior to the completion of eight academic terms forfeit their summer eligibility. In addition, a student must be enrolled for Duke credit (whether at Duke or in a Duke-In or Duke-Approved abroad program) in the following fall term in order for financial aid to be applied to summer study.

Note that transfer students may receive fewer funded semesters at Duke, depending upon the number of credits transferred. 

Part-Time Attendance

If a student takes at least three credits during a term, financial aid will not be impacted. 

If a student takes fewer than three credits, aid will be reduced by the same amount as the reduction in the tuition charges and book costs (the part-time book allowance is half of the full-time book allowance).  Your family contribution will remain the same, as will the budget for housing, meals, and miscellaneous expenses.  This means that for some need-based aid recipients, there is no financial advantage to taking less than a full-time course load since your family contribution does not change.

Please note: If a student takes fewer than two credits, he or she may no longer be eligible to receive federal loans and certain types of grant assistance.  To find out how financial aid may be impacted if you will be enrolled in fewer than two credits, contact us.

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Ability to Benefit

Federal Regulations require that students have an ‘Ability-to-Benefit’ from post-secondary education before they can receive Federal Student Aid, which typically refers to earning a high school diploma or equivalent, being enrolled in a degree seeking program, and not concurrently enrolled in elementary or secondary school.

All Duke students are required to submit proof of their “Ability to Benefit” (and thereby establishing eligibility for Title IV federal student aid) by providing documentation as listed below.

How do students demonstrate Ability to Benefit?

Students must provide one of the following documents that indicate their high school completion status:

• A copy of a high school diploma.

• A copy of a final, official high school transcript that shows the date when the diploma was awarded.

• A copy of the “secondary school leaving certificate” or similar document from the proper government agency for students who completed secondary school in a foreign country. If your college doesn’t have the expertise to evaluate foreign secondary school credentials or chooses not to do so, there are evaluation services available.

• A copy of a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or GED transcript that indicates the student passed the exam.

• Certification of a passing score on a test that the student’s state authorizes and recognizes as the equivalent of a high school diploma. This includes tests similar to the GED, such as the High School Equivalency Test or the Test Assessing Secondary Completion. Test transcripts are acceptable documentation if they indicate that the final score is a passing score or that the student’s state considers the test results to meet its high school equivalency requirements.

• An academic transcript that indicates the student successfully completed at least a two-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward a bachelor’s degree at any participating school. You do not have to collect proof of high school status for graduate students if admission into their program required the completion of at least two years of undergraduate coursework.

• For a student who has not completed high school and is seeking enrollment in a program that leads to at least an associate degree or its equivalent, documentation from the high school that he excelled academically and from your school that he meets your written policy for admitting such students. This should be a rare occurrence.

• For homeschooled students, a copy of a secondary school completion credential for homeschool (other than a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent) if state law requires homeschooled students to get that credential. If it is not required, a transcript or the equivalent signed by the parent or guardian that lists the secondary school courses the student completed and documents the successful completion of a secondary school education in a homeschool setting.

• For students in an “eligible career pathway program,” documentation that they passed an approved ATB test or completed at least 6 credit hours or 225 clock hours that are applicable toward a degree or certificate offered by your school.

Ability to benefit alternatives for high school completion

Students who were enrolled in a Title IV program prior to July 1, 2012, and were eligible for aid under the old ATB provisions, retain their eligibility regardless of whether they are in a career pathway program. Only students who "first enroll in a program of study on or after July 1, 2012," and who are not high school graduates or do not meet the other eligibility criteria listed above, cannot regain their eligibility for title IV funding by completing one of the ability-to-benefit (ATB) alternatives. 


Students will lose Federal Student Aid eligibility until they cannot provide documentation to satisfy this eligibility requirement.


If you have any questions, please contact the financial aid office.

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The Financial Aid Office does not provide copies of application documents to anyone other than the signatory of the requested document. If students want copies of their parents’ application documents, they must ask their parents to send written release to the Financial Aid Office, specifying which of their documents can be released. Similarly, if parents request copies of student documents, students must first sign a written release. Parents’ financial information cannot be discussed with students unless they have provided us with written authorization to do so.

Duke University does not share information on its enrolled students and does not participate in programs that use University information for statistical research.  

Please realize that if a student accepts a scholarship from Duke University we may share the student’s name, major and hometown with the donor of the scholarship. We will not share financial information or other personal information with the donor.  In some instances, we will ask scholarship recipients to write thank-you notes to the person who made the scholarship possible. 

Educational Lending Statement

Duke University has established a set of publicly available principles and policies to govern educational lending practices for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. These principles emphasize that our lending practices come from a commitment to the best interests of our students. Neither Duke nor its employees accept financial payments, goods or services of material value from lenders. All employees involved in financial aid and student lending are subject to a rigorous conflict-of-interest policy. Administrators may serve as unpaid members of lender advisory boards in order to help shape the products and services that will best meet the needs of our students. In such cases, Duke pays all costs associated with that service.

Click the link below for detailed information on our Code of Conduct:

Student Complaint Process

Federal regulations require that institutions that participate in Federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 as amended must have a process whereby the State in which the institution is located can review and appropriately act on complaints arising under State law.  To see the University’s policy on student complaints, please see the Office of the Provost site.

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FERPA Statement

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, including financial aid records.  For dependent students (students claimed on their parents’ tax returns) we may discuss the financial aid records with parents or guardians of the student.  When parents are not married, we will not discuss the financial record of one parent with the other.  We retain the right to confirm the identity of parents when speaking to them on the phone.

For more information on FERPA, please see Duke University’s policy as well as the Department of Education’s policy.

Additionally, it should be noted that Duke follows the guidance of section 483(a)(3)(E) of the Higher Education Act (HEA) which specifies that FAFSA data, which includes information related to Expected Family Contributions (EFCs) and awards, “shall be used only for the application, award, and administration of aid awarded under federal student aid programs, state aid, or aid awarded by eligible institutions or such entities as the Department may designate.” 

This means that Duke will not release FAFSA data to any third party without a student's consent.

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Student Rights and Responsibilities

The Duke University Offices of Student Financial Aid (OSFA), in partnership with students (and students' parents), provides federal, state, and institutional funds to help defray the cost of education. Student financial aid recipients have a number of responsibilities and rights.

As a student financial aid recipient, it is your responsibility to:

  • Reapply for financial aid each year by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (for federal aid--note that federal aid is limited to U.S. nationals or certain, limited immigration statuses, including but not limited to certain formal refugee or asylum statuses), submitting all required documents to the Duke OSFA, and completing the CSS Profile application (if requested by OSFA). Federal financial aid is not automatically renewed each year, and need-based institutional aid requires annual reapplication, with the exception of international undergraduate students.
  • Complete and submit application materials within required or preferred timeframes and check DukeHub to ensure all required forms have been submitted.
  • Provide additional documentation or information as requested by the Duke OSFA.
  • Read and understand all materials sent to you from the Duke OSFA and keep copies of all forms you sign.
  • Comply with the provisions of any promissory note and all other agreements you sign.
  • Know and comply with the federal, state, and institutional rules governing the financial aid you receive. This information is on the FAFSA, on the materials sent with your financial aid offer, and on the Duke OSFA websites. These rules include, but are not limited to, not being in default on any prior educational loan and not owing a refund on a federal grant due to repayment.
  • Report other sources of student financial aid to the Duke OSFA.
  • Use student financial aid proceeds solely for direct educational costs and related living expenses.
  • Complete the class registration process each semester by the end of the official last day to late register or add courses in order to ensure availability of all student financial aid funds you have been offered. Some aid programs may be subject to cancellation or reduction if your registration process is not completed by the official last day to late register or add courses.
  • Know the implications that dropping a course or withdrawing from Duke will have on your student financial aid.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP).
  • Keep your residing and permanent addresses current with the Duke Registrar's Office.
  • Check your university-assigned email account and DukeHub Message Center often since some information and requests are sent via email and Message Center.
  • Pay all previous session charges appearing on your University bill before financial aid is disbursed for the current session.
  • Complete direct deposit information on DukeHub for any financial aid refunds.
  • Complete direct deposit information for University Payroll to receive payment of work-study funds.

As a student financial aid recipient, you have the right to:

  • Know the correct procedures for applying for student financial aid, your cost of attendance, and the types of aid available.
  • Know how federal financial need is determined, what the criteria are for offering financial aid, how reasonable academic progress is determined, and what you have to do to continue receiving aid.
  • Know the type and amount of assistance you will receive, how much of your financial need has been met, and how and when you will receive your financial aid funds.
  • View the contents of your student financial aid file, in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • Know the conditions of any loan you accept.
  • Know the terms, conditions, and pay rate for any student job you accept.
  • Request an appeal of financial aid decisions with the Duke OSFA in regard to your financial aid application.