Aid - Money from grants, scholarships, benefits, or loans used to pay the cost of college.
Alternative Loans - A loan from a source other than the federal government. See also Private Loans.
Budget - The estimated total cost for an individual student to attend college (also referred to as the cost of attendance for one year or term). The budget includes billable expenses (such as tuition, fees, housing, and food), as well as costs students may not have considered. For instance, a student's budget includes the estimated cost of travel to Duke, an estimate for the cost of books, and an estimate for "miscellaneous" expenses that a student may incur while participating in campus activities or social events.
Cost of Attendance - The sum of all the estimated costs to attend college (sometimes also called a student budget). The cost of attendance includes billable expenses (such as tuition, fees, housing, and food), as well as costs students may not have considered. For instance, a student's total cost of attendance includes the estimated cost of travel to Duke, an estimate for the cost of books, and an estimate for "miscellaneous" expenses a student may incur while participating in campus activities or academic activities.
CSS Profile - The College Scholarship Service Profile is the application Duke uses to determine a student's eligibility for institutional aid (i.e., grant money from Duke). The CSS Profile is distributed by the College Board and can be completed online. U.S. citizens and permanent residents who wish to be considered for both institutional and federal aid will need to complete both the CSS Profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who do not wish to be considered for institutional aid and are only seeking federal aid may complete only the FAFSA.
Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan - A federal loan program available to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents who complete a FAFSA and are not fully funded through other sources of aid and meet basic eligibility criteria. To learn more about eligibility, please visit our loan page.
EFC (Expected Family Contribution) - The amount a family is expected to contribute toward the cost of Duke. The contribution is determined using the information submitted on the financial aid application(s) and from a household's tax and wage statements.
FAFSA - The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the application for financial assistance from the federal government. In many states, the FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for state aid. While the FAFSA is the only application as student must complete to receive federal aid, students who would like to be considered for institutional aid (i.e., grant money from Duke) should also complete the CSS Profile.
Grants - Money used to pay for college that does not have to be repaid.
IDOC - The College Board's Institutional Documentation Service. This is the document processing center we use to manage financial aid application materials for prospective students applying to Duke. After you submit the CSS Profile, keep an eye on your applicant portal, because we may request additional documentation (like your parents' taxes) to be sent via IDOC.
Independent Student - Federal regulations require that all students under the age of 24 be considered a dependent of the parent for the purposes of financial aid. Only when a student has been declared a ward of the court, has been in foster care after the age of 13, is considered an unaccompanied (homeless) youth, or has experienced other similar circumstances may a student be considered independent. Students who believe they may qualify under one of the above exceptions should contact our office directly for additional information.
Loans - Aid that must be repaid, either during a student's time at Duke or after graduation. Both federal and private loans may be available to assist with the cost of Duke. To find out more about your options, visit our loans page.
Need (or Financial Need) - Need is the number that results when you subtract your Expected Family Contribution from your "total costs" or "cost of attendance." If your cost of attendance is $80,000 for one year at Duke, and your EFC is $20,000, you have $60,000 of need. Your level of need is how both Duke and the federal government assess your eligibility for various kinds of aid. Duke meets need 100% for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented students by providing various forms of aid.
Federal Work Study and subsidized federal student loans are both based on your level of federal need (using your FAFSA EFC).
Noncustodial Parent - If a student's biological or adoptive parents are divorced or separated, Duke requires information from each parent. Eligibility for aid is based on the expectation that both parents should contribute financially to their child’s educational expenses; therefore, both the custodial and noncustodial parent must submit financial aid application information to Duke. The custodial parent should complete the FAFSA and the CSS Profile (the CSS Profile is required for consideration of institutional aid). Once the Profile is complete, the College Board will send an email to the student detailing the steps for the noncustodial parent to complete the Noncustodial Profile online.
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.
In rare circumstances, Duke may waive the requirement for noncustodial parent information.
Parent Contribution - The amount of the Expected Family Contribution that is calculated from a student's parents' income and assets. The Expected Family Contribution for Duke is the sum of the parent contribution and the student contribution.
PLUS Loan - A federal loan available to the parents of undergraduate students based on credit criteria. To learn more, visit our loans page.
Private Loans - Educational loans issued by an organization other than the federal government (see also alternative loans).
Profile (or CSS Profile) - The College Scholarship Service Profile is the application Duke uses to determine a student's eligibility for institutional aid (i.e., grant money from Duke). The CSS Profile is distributed by the College Board and can be completed online. U.S. citizens and permanent residents who wish to be considered for both institutional and federal aid will need to complete both the CSS Profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who do not wish to be considered for institutional aid and are only seeking federal aid may complete only the FAFSA.
Scholarships - Scholarships are a form of grant aid (money that does not need to be paid back). Scholarships may be need-based (based on a family's financial circumstances) or awarded for a student's academic performance (based on merit). Criteria for scholarship eligibility varies widely, and students should check with the organization issuing a scholarship to determine if certain criteria must be met in order to maintain eligibility.
All first-year Duke applicants are automatically considered for all available merit scholarships based on the admission application, and no separate application is required (with the exception of the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program).
Sibling Verification (Multiple Siblings in College) - Duke adjusts the Expected Family Contribution for families receiving need-based aid with multiple students in college at the same time. Please see the policies regarding this consideration to determine your eligibility. Duke requires verification of sibling enrollment each semester. Financial aid packages will change if there is a change in sibling enrollment or if you fail to return the verification form.
Student Contribution - The amount a student is expected to contribute toward the cost of college. At Duke, all students have a minimum contribution, regardless of financial need. To find out more about the student contribution, visit our Awarding Policies and Guidelines page.
Summer Session - A four- or six-week summer academic term. Need-based financial aid recipients may be considered for up to two summer sessions of institutional financial aid at Duke, at the Duke Marine Lab, or in an eligible Duke-In Global Education program.
Total Income - The sum of all positive income to a family before pre-tax deductions. Total income excludes losses from investments, businesses, benefits and any other source of negative income. Business deductions for the use of the home, depreciation, personal vehicles, or other household expenses are also excluded from total income calculations.
Because total income includes the sum of all positive income and excludes the deductions above, total income is not the same as a household's adjusted gross income from a tax return.
Untaxed Income - Any income or benefits received by a student or family that is not subject to taxation.
Verification - The process the federal government uses to confirm that the data reported on your FAFSA is accurate. If you are selected for verification, Duke may contact you for documentation that supports income and other information that you reported. To learn more about what to do if you've been selected for verification, please see our Verification page.
Work Study - Work study is a program that helps students get part-time jobs, primarily on Duke's campus. When a work-study student finds a job, financial aid pays a portion of his/her wages. For this reason, many on-campus employers will require a student to participate in the work-study program in order to apply for a job. To learn more about work study, visit our work-study page.