Duke's Financial Aid Initiative Raises $308.5 Million

Duke University's Financial Aid Initiative, a fund-raising effort which began in January 2005 and was publicly launched that December, raised $308,483,325 in new endowment for financial aid, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Monday. The four-year effort passed its overall $300 million goal in November and ended at the close of 2008.

"These uncertain economic times are a reminder of just how important it is for a university to have permanent endowment dedicated to financial aid," Brodhead said. "At a time when university resources are stretched in many directions, so too are the resources of our students and their families. Yet it is our obligation as a great university to ensure that talented students can get the education that will enable them to reach their potential. Financial aid endowment helps us fulfill our core commitment to make a Duke education accessible and affordable."

A total of 4,364 alumni, parents and friends contributed to the initiative, establishing 478 new scholarship and fellowship funds and supporting 330 funds that previously had been established. Of the $308.5 million raised through gifts and pledges, $226 million is dedicated to need-based undergraduate scholarships, $20.6 million to athletic scholarships, and $61.9 million to graduate and professional student support.

"This is a fantastic achievement," said Sally Dalton Robinson and G. Richard Wagoner Jr., co-chairs of the initiative, in a statement. "There are hundreds of students at Duke today who are benefitting from gifts made to Duke's Financial Aid Initiative, and decades from now there will be even more students who are able to attend Duke because of scholarships and fellowships supported and established during these few years. What's more, this initiative helped give university leaders the confidence to enhance undergraduate need-based aid packages for virtually all recipients."

As part of its ongoing commitment to make high-quality undergraduate education more affordable, Duke announced in December 2007 a series of enhancements [http://news.duke.edu/2007/12/financialaid.html] to its need-based undergraduate financial aid program that took effect in the 2008-09 academic year. These enhancements included eliminating the parental contribution for families with incomes less than $60,000; eliminating loans for families with incomes less than $40,000; reducing loans for students from families with incomes up to $100,000; and capping loans for eligible families with incomes above $100,000.

When announcing the enhancements, Brodhead said the increased investment in financial aid was made possible because of contributions to Duke's Financial Aid Initiative and earnings on the university's endowment.

Duke's current budget includes $86 million -- a 19 percent increase from the 2007-08 budget -- to support Duke's undergraduate financial aid program and fund these enhancements. About 45 percent of undergraduates receive financial support to attend Duke; about 40 percent receive need-based aid. For more than a decade, the percentage increase of Duke's financial aid support has far outpaced the percentage increase of tuition.

This year, Duke has received more than 23,750 applications for admission, the largest number in school history and a nearly 17 percent increase over the previous record set last year (http://news.duke.edu/2009/01/applications.html). Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag attributed the increase to a number of factors, including a growing awareness among applicants that it is possible for students from every background to attend Duke.

Duke is one of a limited number of schools with a "need-blind" admissions policy, which means that all qualified U.S. applicants are accepted regardless of their ability to pay for college. Duke guarantees it will meet 100 percent of demonstrated financial need.

In his 2004 inaugural speech, Brodhead identified increasing the university's endowment for financial aid as one of his highest priorities. To support the Financial Aid Initiative effort and encourage others to make gifts, The Duke Endowment of Charlotte early in the campaign contributed $75 million and a small group of donors contributed another $25 million to create a $100 million challenge fund that matched many new financial aid endowment gifts dollar for dollar.

To learn more about the initiative and to meet students and alumni who have benefitted from financial aid at Duke, visit http://giving.duke.edu/fai.