A look into how Duke’s new tuition grants for Carolinian students came to be

<p>The Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support.</p>

The Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support.

Duke announced full tuition grants for eligible students from North Carolina and South Carolina beginning in the 2023-24 academic year.

The Initiative for the Students from the Carolinas, which targets students with family incomes of $150,000 or less, joins the Trinity Scholarship and Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship in the University’s efforts to expand aid for students from the Carolinas. 

Weeks after Duke’s announcement, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced full tuition grants for students with family incomes below $80,000, citing the June Supreme Court decision that overturned race-based affirmative action.

But plans for Duke’s initiative began “long before June’s announcement,” according to Miranda McCall, associate vice provost and director of the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support.

McCall wrote that she began her leadership role in the financial aid office in 2020. That same year, McCall, Gary Bennett, then vice provost for undergraduate education, and Jennifer Francis, then executive vice provost, “began imagining an expansion of aid that could assist and grow our population of low- and middle-income students.”

“As we reviewed longer-term trends after the pandemic in fall 2022, our goal crystallized into a focus on our local communities of students,” McCall wrote.

McCall characterized the Carolinas as “our home,” echoing President Vincent Price’s remarks when the initiative was announced.

“It’s where we have our most long standing commitment,” she wrote. “We want families in the Carolinas to know that a Duke education can be affordable, and that we will provide support and resources so all students who are admitted to Duke can have an exceptional college experience.”

McCall added that Duke “committed to leveraging internal operating resources to support the program.”

In the 2022 fiscal year, Duke had $3.38 billion in operating revenues, according to the University’s most recent financial statement. The revenues come from a variety of sources, including government grants and contracts (29%), investment return (18%) and net tuition and fees (17%). Duke reported $3.24 billion dollars in university operating expenses.

Duke currently provides over $130 million each year in financial aid grant assistance.

“The work of the aid team began in earnest once the matriculated class was settled in May. The timing of the announcement was intended to assist both current and future students,” McCall wrote. “It was imperative we announce and implement the initiative prior to Duke’s fall bills, issued the last week of June.”

McCall stated that feedback about the initiative from “both current and prospective students” has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

McCall also cited an “increase in interest from [Duke’s] local active duty dependents and veterans.” Eligible students from military families with legal residence in the Carolinas qualify for the program, regardless of where they are stationed.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our partnerships with local high schools and community … while renewing our commitment to our existing aid programs in the year ahead,” McCall wrote.

Duke anticipates investing an additional $6 million to $7 million dollars in the initiative each year over the next five years, enrolling more eligible students from North Carolina and South Carolina.

Michael Austin profile
Michael Austin | Managing Editor

Michael Austin is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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