Reinventing Financial Aid


Just two years into the Financial Aid Initiative, Duke has announced major changes to its financial-aid policy, eliminating parental contributions for some families and substituting loans with grants for many others. Officials estimate the new policy will benefit nearly 2,500 undergraduates.

Beginning in the fall of 2008, Duke's financial-aid program will include these features:

  • Parents of undergraduate financial-aid recipients with combined annual incomes less than $60,000 will not be expected to contribute to their children's educational expenses.
  • Students from families with annual incomes of less than $40,000 will have loans replaced by scholarship grants.
  • Students from families with annual incomes between $40,000 and $100,000 will have their loan packages reduced on a graduated basis.
  • Students from families with annual incomes of $100,000 or more will have loans capped at $5,000 a year.
  • Students with loan packages will no longer be expected to assume a larger loan with each year of enrollment.

President Richard H. Brodhead, who, in his inaugural address, highlighted the importance of increasing the university's financial-aid endowment, says the new policy was made possible with earnings on the university's endowment and funds contributed to the Financial Aid Initiative—a $300 million fundraising effort scheduled to end in December 2008. "We have deliberately focused these new investments on relieving the burden not only for parents with incomes below the national median but for students from middle-income families as well."

According to Jim Belvin, Duke's financial-aid director, "With the changes we are making to strengthen support for students on financial aid, it may actually cost an eligible family less to attend Duke than a publicly supported university."

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