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Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What Does it Really Cost to Attend Duke University?

For many families, the hardest part of college planning is the finances. College costs are rising rapidly, with the average family paying $56,840 for a four-year degree from a public institution, or $104,400 from a private university in 2016. It’s no wonder that cost is a significant concern.


One thing that makes planning for college costs so difficult is their variability. A family normally can’t predict the exact out-of-pocket expense, but learning more about the factors that impact costs can help. In this series of posts, we dive into analyzing the costs of attending over 1,000 schools. If you’re interested in learning more about what you can expect to pay to attend Duke University, you won’t want to miss this post.


Want to learn what Duke University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Duke University needs to know.


Why Are College Costs So Variable?


The primary reason that college costs have such a broad range, even at the same institution, is due to the many factors financial aid offices take into consideration. This means that the first step towards narrowing in on how much your family can expect to pay is ensuring that you understand the factors that will impact your expenses.


The most significant factor in college cost is a college’s list price, sometimes referred to as the sticker price. It is basically the all-inclusive cost of attending the school without any kind of aid. This generally includes tuition, room and board, and any administrative fees. At schools with a high percentage of commuter students, room and board may not be included, so it’s a good idea to check when you compare list prices between schools.


Because few students actually end up paying list price, net price can be a more helpful data point in comparing college costs. The average net price at a college is the average out of pocket cost for families after aid is applied. Therefore, net price depends on three primary factors— government aid (federal, state, and local), institutional financial aid, and merit scholarships. The amount of aid a family receives in these three areas will have a big impact on their ultimate net costs.


What is the List Price at Duke University?


In 2017, the list price at Duke University was $69,169. Because Duke is a private school, this list price is the same regardless of a student’s state of residence.


Keep in mind, though, that few students actually pay the entire list price. Those who can expect to do so generally have a combined family income of over $175k per year.


What is the Average Net Cost of Attending Duke University?


Because few students actually pay list price, it can be more helpful to look at a school’s average net cost.


At Duke, the average net cost for students who receive financial aid is $57,808. For students not receiving financial aid, the average net cost is $66,957. Again, Duke’s status as a private university means these costs are the same for both in-state and out-of-state students.


What is the Cost Based on Income of Attending Duke University?


The primary factor affecting net cost is how much financial aid a student receives. Financial aid is calculated based on a family’s income, so it can be helpful to break down net cost by income.


The breakdown of net cost at Duke according to family income is as follows:


Family Income Average Net Price
$0-$30,000 $4,728*
$30,001-$48,000 $1,302
$48,001-$75,000 $7,880
$75,001-$110,000 $25,085
$110,000+ $48,925


* These numbers do not reflect any Pell Grants that families may receive. Families with an income of $0-30k often receive Federal Pell Grants, which reduce the amount of financial aid that individual institutions need to award. This is why there is a higher tuition rate for families with $0-30k vs. those with $30k-48k.

How Much Merit Aid is Awarded at Duke?


Duke has a highly-selective applicant pool, so it doesn’t award a lot of merit aid, as accepted students are all impressive in their own ways. Only 3.4% of students receive merit aid at Duke, with the average merit aid award for a student without financial need being $2,212. This places Duke at 712th in the pool of over 1000 schools we analyzed for merit aid generosity.


Note that most merit awards are automatically granted based on your application to the university; there is no separate application, except for the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. You can read more about the merit awards at Duke on their website.


How Many Students Take Out Loans to Attend Duke?


Taking out loans is among one of the more common ways that Duke students fund their educations. In 2016, 70% of students had some kind of loan, and the average federal student loans per undergraduate student was $3,102 over the course of their college career.


Student Outcomes at Duke


One way of measuring the worth of a college education is to look at long-term student outcomes. Generally, people with a college degree have a higher earning potential than those without, so viewing college costs as an investment in the future is a fair way to frame your thinking.


At Duke, 93% of students graduate within six years of beginning a degree, and the average salary 10 years after graduation is $84,400.


Local Area Cost Considerations


Tuition, fees, and room and board are likely the largest costs to anticipate when it comes to planning college finances, but undoubtedly there will be other expenses over the course of a college degree, too. Some of these, like transportation or off-campus housing, depend largely on the local economy and cost of living.


Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina. Durham has a cost of living index of 101.2, meaning it is roughly in line with the national average. Groceries and transportation costs in Durham are slightly below average, while housing costs are slightly above. Students living off-campus can expect to pay about $848/month for a studio rental or $1461/month for a 3-bedroom rental.


The job market is good in Durham. Local unemployment rates are below the national average and job growth is above. That being said, students should know that minimum wage in North Carolina is $7.25, which places it among the lowest in the country. The median hourly wage in North Carolina is $16.71.


Other Ways to Pay for College


There are many ways to help fund a college education. Financial aid and loans are among the most popular, but scholarships are also available and should be an option that every student explores.


One of the most well-known scholarship programs in the country is the National Merit Scholarship Program. In this program, high school juniors who take the PSAT are eligible to qualify based on their scores. In addition, other awards are sponsored through the National Hispanic Recognition Program, or by specific corporations and individual colleges. To learn more about the program, check out our post How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.


Many other scholarship programs exist across the country. Some are national programs with huge applicant pools and others are smaller, local, or highly-specialized programs. You can learn more about scholarship options in these CollegeVine posts:



Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.