DURHAM, N.C. — Monday isn't just the first day of school for many schools around the state, but it's a historic day for Duke University, because the college is offering new full tuition grants to eligible students.
In June, the university announced the grants would impact students with family incomes below a certain threshold.
This new financial aid is specifically designed to help students from North and South Carolina.
The grants could be life-changing, because it’s no secret that college can be very expensive. The price tag to attend Duke, with room and board, is about $82,000 this year.
According to the university, about half of the students here receive financial aid. Students are now also eligible for a full tuition grant if their family income is less than $150,000. If a student’s family income is less than $65,000, they’ll also receive help for housing, meals, some course materials and other campus expenses.
Duke has more undergraduate students from North Carolina than from any other state. Last year, they made up approximately 16% of the undergrad student body, representing 65 counties across the state.
Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences admits approximately 80% of the university’s undergrads. The dean says this program ensures Duke remains committed in the community.
“It’s both serving the students who are here, [and] the students who hope to be here. But it’s also serving the communities that so many of our students hail from. This is our home. North Carolina is our home. And so we’re excited about being able to do a little bit more to support families and the communities here,” Gary Bennett, the Dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences at Duke University, said.
Duke says this aid is expected to increase grant assistance to students by about $2 million this academic year, and an additional $6 million to $7 million over the next five.
“So for the students who get admitted here, and students who want to spend time here, we think that this kind of plan will just help them to be able to both access to Duke and be able to afford themselves with all of the tremendous opportunities that this university offers,” Bennett said.
Bennett says this program is here to stay because Duke believes they have the resources to make a long-term commitment to both students and the surrounding area, something she says took years to put together.
“We really worked hard over the last couple of years to look at our data, to talk to families and to try to understand the needs of our students to put together a program that would be attractive to our students and their families, but also to put together a program that could last,” Bennett said.
According to Duke, about 340 students should benefit from this new financial aid assistance grant this year.
“We all know in higher education that the challenges of affordability are really paramount and are really front and center in the minds of so many of the families that seek admission to places like Duke,” Bennett said. “If it helps to inform part of the national conversation about college affordability, that’s wonderful, too.
Shortly after Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also announced a similar change in financial aid. Starting this year, UNC undergraduate students are eligible for free tuition if their families make less than $80,000 a year.