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Duke scholarships, student loans and grants

Compare your need- and merit-based options at this school.

Duke University’s price tag might be high, but its students manage to graduate with a lower-than-average student debt load. This is thanks in part to its generous need- and merit-based scholarship programs. While North Carolina students have the most options, residents of other states and even international students can also qualify for aid.

How much does it cost to go to Duke?

Costs of attending DukeAnnual cost
Tuition and fees$58,198
Meal plan$8,076
Books, supplies and personal expenses$3,410
Total cost for the 2019–2020 academic year$78,608

As you can see, Duke’s cost of attendance (COA) includes more than just tuition and fees. It also takes into account expenses like textbooks, supplies and the general cost of living as a college student. And if you don’t live near Durham, your COA could be even higher when you factor in transportation.

What’s the average student debt load for Duke graduates?

Duke students graduated with an average student debt load of $23,819 in 2016, according to the Department of Education. This is about $13,000 less than the national average for that same year.

To reduce that amount even more, you can apply for scholarships, grants and work-study programs before taking out student loans.

Does Duke offer a tuition payment plan?

Yes, Duke offers a monthly payment plan through Nelnet’s Tuition Management Systems (TMS). For a $40 enrollment fee, you can sign up to pay off your fall tuition between July 1st and November 1st and spring tuition between December 1st and April 1st.

Duke University scholarships and grants

There are two types of financial aid at Duke: need-based and merit-based funding.

Duke University grants

All students are considered for Duke’s need-based grants based on your expected parent and student contribution. Duke exempts all families with a total income of $60,000 or less from contributing to their child’s education and covers that portion with a grant.

Students are expected to pay at least $2,600 per year, regardless of income. You can cover this with merit-based scholarships, loans and work-study programs. Duke automatically offers all students at least $2,200 in work-study funding.

Merit scholarships

All students accepted to Duke are automatically considered for most of its merit-based scholarship programs, which are available to both US and international students.

A.B. Duke Scholarship Program

The A.B. Duke Scholarship Program offers full funding for tuition, fees and room and board to a handful of students each year. Participants can also take advantage of mentorship from faculty members and an opportunity to apply for the A.B. Duke Research Fellowship (ABRF), which covers research projects or study abroad.

Scholars can also attend a six-week summer program at the University of Oxford with all expenses paid. All incoming students are automatically considered for this scholarship when they apply to Duke.

B.N. Duke Scholarship Program

This merit-based scholarship program funded by The Duke Endowment provides a full ride to high-achieving students from North and South Carolina. In addition, B.N. Duke scholars get funding to cover a community-based summer project in one of the Carolinas and another abroad.

All eligible students are automatically considered when they apply, so there’s no separate application.

Robertson Scholars Leadership Program

This unique program is available to both Duke and University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill students. Scholars can take courses between both campuses and take advantage of its three-part summer program, both in the US and abroad. It also offers access to leadership-building activities like a 10-day wilderness expedition, as well as mentorship from faculty members.

Unlike some other Duke scholarship programs, you typically must apply to be considered. You can fill out the application on the Robertson Scholars Program website. In some cases, Duke might refer you to the program. If this happens, you’ll be contacted with instructions to complete the application.

University Scholars Program

This scholarship is available to both undergraduate and graduate students at Duke University. It covers most expenses, though it doesn’t come with funding for summer projects or study abroad. Scholars are required to take certain courses, meet with mentors and get involved in both the school and local community.

Karsh International Scholars Program

This scholarship program is only available to international students — not including those who have dual US citizenship. It’s both a need- and merit-based program, meaning you need to have strong academics and demonstrate financial need to qualify.

In addition to funding, scholars will receive extra support from faculty mentors, advisers and graduate assistants to strengthen their academic experience. You’re automatically considered for this scholarship when you apply for financial aid.

Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholars Program

Students of African descent are automatically considered for this merit-based scholarship. It offers full tuition and room and board, plus funding to support internships, public service and other enrichment activities. Scholars also receive access to additional mentoring and scholars-only programs, like field trips.

Trinity Scholarship Program

This scholarship program is actually a group of 13 scholarships available to North and South Carolina students, especially residents of the High Point area. Like other merit-based scholarships, students get access to additional mentorship programs and community-building programs. You’re automatically considered for this scholarship program when you apply to Duke.

David M. Rubenstein Scholars Program

This scholarship program is a need- and merit-based program for first-generation college students. You need to have strong academics, show a commitment to community service and come from a low-income family to qualify. It covers up to 100% of the cost of attendance. All Duke applicants are automatically considered for this program.

Alumni Endowed Scholarship Program

All students are considered for this alumni-funded merit-based scholarship program when they apply to Duke. Scholars are required to take a series of first-year seminars and engage with the Durham community. Like other scholarship programs, students get access to additional mentorship opportunities as well.

Are there other scholarships and grants available?

There are. In addition to university scholarships and grants, students can apply to state, federal and private programs to cover what Duke can’t. North Carolina residents might have the most options: Many state scholarships are only available to residents. Students from other states might want to look into funding options from their home state instead.

Those who can’t qualify for government funding might want to look into private programs — especially international students. For example, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program offers funding to students from Sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with Duke University.

Student loans to pay for Duke

When scholarships, grants and work-study programs aren’t enough, you might want to consider applying for a student loan. Duke recommends you apply for federal loans first by filling out the FAFSA — they’re typically less expensive and have more flexible repayment options.

Students who still need funds after receiving federal loans are automatically considered for a Duke Educational Assistance Loan. These don’t gain interest while you’re in school and stay at a fixed 5% rate after you graduate.

If you’re ineligible for a Duke Educational Assistance Loan, you might want to consider a private student loan instead.

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Bottom line

Duke University is expensive, even for a private school. But it offers a generous need- and merit-based financial aid program to help cover the costs. And student loans are available to pick up the slack when scholarships and grants fall short.

You can learn more about how paying for school works with our guide to student loans.

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