Common Questions

If Duke is your first choice and you are admitted, we want you to be able to attend—and we realize finances are a big part of that. You can apply early decision if you are willing to forgo comparing Duke’s financial aid to financial aid offers at other schools. We will provide an estimate with your Early Decision Admission packet if all of your financial aid materials are complete by the deadline. The estimate you receive will include your actual family contribution for Duke; we refer to it as an estimate only because we do not yet have the exact cost of attendance for the upcoming year at the time the letters are issued. However, if Duke's cost increases, your financial aid will increase by the difference in charges, so you can plan ahead based on the letter you receive from us in December.   

You will reapply for aid each year, and your aid will be adjusted annually based on your updated household and tax information. If your income, assets, and household circumstances remain similar, you can expect similar levels of aid each year.

Duke does not match financial aid awards from other universities.  If another university has offered a need-based award that is significantly different from Duke’s award, it may be that the other university has received new or updated information about your family's financial situation. If there have been changes to your family’s finances since you applied, you may request a reevaluation of your award. Requesting a revision requires that you submit in writing a specific and detailed explanation of the situation. For more information about appeals, visit our Special Circumstances section.

It may.  If you are eligible for need-based aid and have a sibling enrolled as a full-time undergraduate at a four-year institution, your parents’ contribution may be less.  We assume your parents will have to split available funds between you and your sibling, so while your sibling is enrolled in college, your aid award may be greater.  If your sibling drops below full-time, graduates, attends a two-year college, or attends graduate school, that sibling will no longer be counted, and your Duke grant aid may be reduced. 

Note that the above information applies to households who qualify for need-based aid with one student in college.  For those who do not receive need-based aid with one student in college, adding a second student does not automatically guarantee a family will qualify for need-based aid.  Aid eligibility is dependent on the family's calculated ability to pay (also referred to as calculated parent contribution) as determined by the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Duke does not offer automatic discounts or tuition reductions based on the number of students enrolled in college.

Applicants are automatically considered for Duke merit scholarships by virtue of their admissions application; however, there are several merit scholarships that require that the recipient demonstrate financial need. To be considered for these scholarships, it is essential that you submit all of your required financial aid documents by the February 1 deadline. All applicants for admission are automatically considered for any available merit scholarship. To learn more about merit scholarships at Duke and other sources of non-need-based aid, please see Other Sources of Aid.

You can check the status of your application for financial aid by logging into your account in Applicant Access. Once admitted, you can track the progress of your financial aid application via your DukeHub “To-Do” List.  All financial aid application tasks are listed there, and their status is updated daily. 

When tracking the progress of your FAFSA, CSS PROFILE, and any additional materials you may have been asked to submit, please allow 10 business days for your To-Do List to be updated.  These components of the application are sent to Duke from other agencies, and they may take several days to reach us depending on the season.  

When you have completed your FAFSA application, you should receive confirmation when you view your Student Aid Report. 

Some applicants may be asked to submit tax information to the College Board IDOC service. If this is the case, you can confirm that IDOC received your paperwork by logging into your IDOC account on the College Board site, or you can call their office to confirm.


If you receive need-based aid from Duke, your aid will include work study and possibly a student loan. Any non-Duke scholarship you receive will first replace the loans and work study you were offered. If you receive more in outside scholarships than the total loan and work study you were offered, the additional amount will reduce the need-based Duke grant or scholarship.

The following three examples show how outside scholarships affect your need-based financial aid:

Example 1 Award with no outside scholarships
External Award $0
Work Study $2,200
Student Loan $4,000
Need-based Scholarship $30,000
Total Need-based Aid $36,200

The above is an example of a need-based financial aid award with no outside scholarships.

Example 2 Same award, but with $3,000 in outside scholarships
External Award $3,000
Work Study $2,200
Student Loan $1,000 ($4,000 initial less $3,000 outside scholarship)
Need-based Scholarship $30,000
Total Need-based Aid $36,200

The above is an example of an outside scholarship reducing part of a student's loan and work-study.


Example 3 Same award, but with $7,000 in outside scholarships
External Award $7,000
Work Study $0 ($2,200 initial less $2,200 outside scholarship)
Student Loan $0 ($4,000 initial less $4,000 outside scholarship)
Need-based Scholarship $29,000 ($30,000 initial less $1,000 outside scholarship)
Total Need-based Aid $36,200

The above is an example of an outside scholarship reducing the student's loan, work-study, and a portion of the Duke need-based scholarship.


To learn more about how to notify Duke you've received a scholarship and where to send your check, please see our information regarding Outside Scholarships.

Many factors are considered when calculating your aid, including your income, assets, and number of siblings in college at once. Because of this, we recommend students and families use our interactive aid calculator to estimate how much aid you might receive.  

Note: Business owners, those who have foreign income, those with total income below $60,000 with significant assets, and those in certain other situations may not receive accurate results using the calculator. In these instances, we encourage all students who'd like to be considered for aid to apply. Those meeting the application deadlines will receive their aid notifications with their Admissions packets.  

We need information from both biological/adoptive parents, even if they are divorced.  Eligibility for aid is based on the expectation that both parents should contribute financially to their child’s educational expenses; therefore, both parents must submit financial aid application information to Duke.  The parent listed on the FAFSA (referred to as Parent 1) should be the first to complete the CSS Profile. Once Parent 1's household information has been entered and CSS Profile completed, Parent 2 (the other biological or adoptive parent) should then complete their own CSS Profile. 

A separate contribution is calculated for each parent and added together to determine a total family contribution.  If either parent has remarried, any spousal income information will be excluded from the analysis because Duke will never use more than two parents when determining aid eligibility. 

In rare circumstances, Duke may waive the requirement for Parent 2's information.  If you have extreme family circumstances that prohibit one or more of your parents from completing the aid application, you should complete an application to waive that parent's information by completing the Parent 2 waiver application on our forms page. Please note that if Parent 2's information is waived and Parent 1 (the parent on the FAFSA) is remarried, Duke will automatically consider stepparent information instead.

Most families use a combination of options to help cover the family contribution.  Duke offers a monthly payment plan through Nelnet and participates in federal and private loan programs.  To learn what options may be best for you, check out how to pay your bill or the loan options page.

We verify all information we receive using the documentation you submitted at the time of your application.  For this reason, we will make corrections on your behalf, and you should not need to make changes to your Profile or FAFSA application unless you are asked to do so by our office.

If you believe the documentation you've submitted to us contains an error, please contact us directly and allow us to make the changes. 

While we can't offer need-based aid until all required documentation has been received (including tax returns if we've requested them), we continue to process applications on a rolling basis throughout the year.  Documents received after the deadline will be accepted and processed.  If Admission packets have already been mailed, we will email the aid award as soon as all materials have been received and an award can be processed.


Beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2017, Duke will meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for undocumented students (both DACA and undocumented) admitted to the University as Early Decision, Regular Decision, or Transfer Students. Financial aid packages will include institutional need-based scholarship funds.  DACA students will also be eligible for Duke work study funding for on campus employment.

If you are an undocumented or DACA student, click here to find out how to apply for financial aid.

If a student’s DACA or undocumented status changes while enrolled at Duke, components of the student’s award may also change.  

Some applicants may be asked to submit tax information. If you are required to submit your taxes, you will receive an email from the College Board IDOC service after you complete the CSS Profile. Additionally, your Duke financial aid To-Do list will be updated after your Profile is received to request these additional documents. 

The IDOC service is a secure platform that collects all required financial aid documentation on Duke’s behalf, including  tax returns, W-2s, business returns, and any other supporting documentation we may have requested from you and your family. Once the CSS Profile is complete and submitted, the College Board will email instructions on how to submit the documentation online. Once the requested documents are received by IDOC, electronic copies of your information are sent to Duke for review, and we'll update your To-Do list to indicate we've received your information.



  1. Undocumented and DACA students should first complete the College Board’s CSS Profile form. For applicants, the fee is waived for those who already have an SAT fee waiver or who qualify based on income. If you are prompted to pay the fee and cannot do so, please contact our office.
  2. Once the Profile is complete, you may receive an email that asks you to submit US tax returns and W2 forms to the secure College Board documentation service called IDOC. If you or your parents did not file a US tax return, you can submit the non-filer form available on the IDOC website if additional documentation has been requested. Note: Not all applicants will be required to take this step.
  3. If you have a noncustodial parent, he/she should also complete the CSS Profile. If additional documents are requested of your noncustodial parent, those may be submitted to the College Board IDOC service as well. 

If you meet the application deadlines, your aid will be ready for you to review in your Admission packet.  See the chart below for specific dates. If you'd like to estimate your aid in advance, we encourage you to use our interactive cost estimators.

Early Decision

Date Items Due
Nov 15th

CSS Profile (if parents are divorced or separated, both parents must complete a separate CSS Profile)

FAFSA application due
December Early Decision Aid Estimate Available with Admissions Information

Regular Decision

Date Items Due  
February 1st 

CSS Profile (if parents are divorced or separated, both parents must complete a separate CSS Profile)

FAFSA application due

April 1st  Regular Decision Aid Available with Admissions Information  

*Please use the IRS data retrieval tool to import your tax information into the FAFSA

Note: Some applicants may be required to submit copies of tax returns and/or additional documentation to the College Board.

If this is the case, you will receive an email communication from the College Board providing you with instructions on how to submit any additional requirements through their online IDOC service.

If you do not receive a request to submit additional information, the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support has enough information to provide an estimated financial aid award at the time of admission.

Some applicants may be asked to submit tax information, including business taxes. In order to consider the financial strength of all applicants equally, it is important that we evaluate all income and assets belonging to a family, including businesses.  If you are asked to submit tax documentation and you are a business owner (whether a sole proprietor or major shareholder of a corporation), we'll need your business tax return and all accompanying schedules, statements, and K-1s (if applicable).  Until all business information is received, a student's aid application will be considered incomplete if tax documentation has been requested.

Depending on your circumstance, we may be able to consider some changes when evaluating your application.  In situations where a family member has suffered a job loss or reduction in income, we can evaluate your financial aid once the calendar year has ended and your total annual earnings can be assessed. (For more information, please see how we consider job loss and income reductions.)

Other circumstances may be considered at the time of application.  To learn what we can and can't consider, see our section on special circumstances.

Additional Newly Admitted Student FAQs

Find more information specific to newly accepted students.

Additional FAQs

How much will it cost?

Now that you have some answers, learn about the costs.

Learn more about cost