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Duke University to Raise $300 Million for Financial Aid Endowment


Calling it “crucial to Duke’s long-term ability to attract the very best students and to make quality education affordable for all families,” President Richard H. Brodhead announced late last week that Duke University plans to raise $300 million in new endowment funds over the next three years to strengthen its financial aid programs for students.

The Financial Aid Initiative seeks $245 million for undergraduate aid, including $15 million for athletic scholarships and $55 million to support graduate and professional school students.

Brodhead said $148.6 million of the $300 million goal has already been given or pledged, including $100 million to be used to encourage other donors to provide endowment funds for financial aid that will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

He said the fund-raising effort will increase to more than $1 billion — roughly one-quarter of Duke’s total endowment — the amount reserved for scholarship support for students who “would not otherwise be able to afford to study at Duke.”

Brodhead said the initiative was also motivated by another priority: “Education helps equip the gifted kid of today to make the maximum contribution to the world we’ll all live in tomorrow. When we invest in financial aid, we’re investing in the development of talent, and so investing in our social future.”

In October, Brodhead announced that $75 million had been committed to match new gifts for financial aid by The Duke Endowment, a Charlotte-based charitable trust established by Duke University founder James Buchanan Duke in 1924. The gift was the largest in the Endowment’s 81-year history and the largest ever received by Duke for any purpose.

Provost Peter Lange, the university’s senior academic officer, says new financial aid resources will ensure the university’s long-term ability to maintain a “need-blind” admissions policy while continuing to strengthen its academic and other programs.

“Over the past decade, Duke’s support for financial aid had been the fastest growing component of the university’s operating budget, growing by 100 percent. This commitment to financial aid has enabled Duke to enroll a much more socially and economically diverse student body while significantly increasing the intellectual quality of our students. The two are not unrelated,” Lange said.

Some 40 percent of Duke’s undergraduates receive need-based aid from the university in financial aid “packages” that consist of grants, loans and work that average about $28,000. Of that, $21,000 is in outright grants from the university. Last year, Duke invested about $129 million in financial aid: more than $50 million for doctoral students, $19 million for professional school students and $59 million for undergraduates. Approximately three-quarters of the money for undergraduates went to students based on their financial need, with the balance used for athletic scholarships and a limited number of merit scholarships.  

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