Financial Aid Awards, Loans, and Student Accounts

The Duke Master of Public Policy Financial Aid Office awards merit-based financial aid awards to all qualified domestic and international students in the form of tuition fellowships and/or teaching, research or staff assistantships. Merit-based financial aid is offered to most accepted MPP applicants unless the student has external funding sources to pay for program costs.

The school generally provides two-year MPP students (non-dual degree students) financial assistance and teaching or research assistantships for two academic years of study, conditional upon satisfactory coursework progress during the first year.

Dual degree students receive tuition fellowships during their first year of MPP academic study (generally 30 credits) and US citizens are eligible for federal loans based on financial need for the remaining 9 credits taken in subsequent semesters beyond the first academic year of study if they attend The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or Duke at least half-time each term.

The Duke MPP Program reserves the right to amend financial aid awards if a student receives external funding, applies to become a dual degree student or fails to maintain academic performance standards. Federal Loans require students to be making satisfactory progress. Students who perform below a 3.0 for two semesters will lose their eligibility for student loans. To be certified as making satisfactory progress towards the degree, graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 (B) cumulative grade point average. Students have an ongoing obligation to notify the MPP aid officer upon receipt of external funding sources, scholarships, or grants obtained independently.

Merit-Based Fellowships

The Terry and Laurie Sanford Family Fellowship

The Sanford Family Fellowship honors student leaders with outstanding commitments to addressing public policy disparities affecting predominantly underserved communities. This prestigious fellowship covers full tuition and fees and includes a living stipend for both years. Domestic students from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply to our program. Students will be considered based on their academic credentials and demonstrated interest in focusing on challenges that underserved communities face in contemporary society.

The Helen F. “Sunny” Ladd Fellowship in Education Policy

The Ladd Fellowship is awarded to top applicants with a strong background and interest in education. The recipient is awarded the full cost of tuition, along with a generous living stipend. In addition to the standard MPP application, applicants should prepare a brief statement of interest (2-page maximum) detailing their interest in the Ladd Fellowship and how it will benefit them, including previous education policy experience, key areas or topics of interest, and future professional goals and direction. This additional statement should be uploaded along with the MPP statement of purpose within the application.

The Carlucci Fellowship

The Carlucci Fellowship awards a $5,000 stipend to up to five students to support a summer internship in the area of security studies. The Carlucci family also hosts a unique networking reception for the fellows during the summer. Fellows are selected in the fall semester and the fellowship is administered by Sanford Career Services.

The Magdalena Yesil Fellowship Fund

The Magdalena Yesil Fellowship Fund is a scholarship endowment for graduate professional students in the Sanford School of Public Policy. It provides full or partial fellowships to incoming MIDP or MPP students from Armenia and/or the surrounding region who are interested in sustainable development, nation-building, or conflict resolution in Armenia and/or the surrounding region. To apply for this fellowship, applicants must upload a separate statement describing their interest in Armenia or the surrounding region and their professional goals. Availability of funds under this fellowship varies from year to year.

The MPP Program is a partner with the following organizations:

  • AmeriCorps Fellowship Program

  • City Year Fellowship Program

  • Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program (Peace Corps)

  • Teach for America Educational Award Program

  • Yellow Ribbon Military Veterans Program

  • Charles B. Rangel Fellowship Program

  • Donald M. Payne International Development Graduate Fellowship Program, USAID

  • Institute for International Public Policy Fellows Program (IIPP)

  • Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Program

  • Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Programs, Woodrow Wilson Foundation

  • Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation

  • US Military Academy Teaching Position Agreement

  • The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

  • World Bank Scholarships Program

Under agreements with AmeriCorps, City Year, Peace Corps, Teach for America, and Yellow Ribbon programs, students who are accepted into the Duke MPP Program are guaranteed a tuition fellowship. These fellowships are the minimum students will receive. All applicants from partner programs will also receive full consideration for additional, merit-based tuition assistance based on the strength of their application.

Loans and Work Study

The MPP Program’s director of financial aid is responsible for loans and certification of work-study eligibility for US citizens and permanent residents. Loan funds are provided through the Federal Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS programs. Loans are available through the Federal Direct Lending Program. Visit for more information. Federal Loans and College Work Study funds may be available to graduate students on the basis of financial need. Financial need is determined by subtracting from the standard student budget the expected student contribution (EFC) and any other financial aid awarded. The difference can be funded with federal need based financial aid. All fellowship and scholarship awards are considered financial aid in the needs analysis.

Students borrowing for the first time from Duke must also complete loan entrance counseling and promissory notes for any Federal Unsubsidized Loans and Graduate PLUS Loans they will receive before funds will disburse.

US citizens and US permanent resident students who anticipate a need to supplement their financial resources through loans or college work-study employment must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form in each year of study. Students should complete the FAFSA online at Students must select the Duke University Code (002920) for the Duke MPP Program Financial Aid Office to obtain their FAFSA information. It is suggested that the FAFSA be submitted by May 1 each academic year that the student is with the program. Award notices for second-year students will be sent out in early May and students should be able to accept their loan choices, if necessary, by July 1. Loan and financial aid inquiries should be emailed to Students must be enrolled at least half-time, be US citizens or permanent residents, meet the federal criteria for need, and remain in good academic standing (3.0 or better) to be and remain eligible for Unsubsidized Federal Loans under the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

Financial Aid Resources

Disbursement of Loans

Generally, student loan proceeds are received by Electronic Fund Transfer at the University not more than 10 days prior to the start of classes each semester and are credited to a student’s Bursar account in two equal payments—at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters.

Private Loans

Alternative student loans must be obtained by the student. Students must notify the loan officer so it may be included in their aid package. Most private loans must be certified by the aid officer before they will disburse.

Payment of Fellowships and Assistantships

Students must be registered in the Duke MPP Program to receive fellowship or assistantship support. The payment of graduate assistantships starts on September 25 for the fall semester and January 25 for the spring semester, and it is made in four equal payments on the twenty-fifth day of each month thereafter. Non-assistantship awards are disbursed by the first day of classes.

Payment of Student Accounts

Student bills will be available for review through DukeHub. Approximately six weeks prior to the beginning of classes each semester the Bursar’s Office emails a notice to all registered students, via the Duke Email account, that bills are available to view online. Students are responsible for monitoring their own student accounts and for making sure loans, scholarships and fellowships are disbursed properly. The bill is payable by the due date listed on the statement. Inquiries regarding statements can be directed to the Bursar’s Office at or by calling (919) 684-3531. Please visit their website for more information:

By accepting admission to Duke University, students agree that they are ultimately responsible for payment of all statements as presented. If full payment is not received, a late payment penalty charge will be issued. Failure to receive an invoice does not exempt students from the payment of tuition and fees or from penalties and restrictions that result from non-payment.

In addition to late payment charges, students with accounts in default may be subject to the following:

  • a registration block on their account;

  • a transcript block and Duke will not certify academic credits;

  • will not be permitted to go on leave of absence;

  • will not be eligible to receive a diploma at graduation;

  • may be subject to withdrawal from the university.

The past due student account will also be referred to a collection agency and credit bureaus. Students with questions about their bursar accounts should first contact the Bursar’s Office. Please contact the Sanford director of financial aid about any financial aid difficulties and for other issues or questions about charges contact the MPP director of student services.

Refunds for Withdrawal from School during Fall and Spring Semesters

In the event of death, refund of full tuition and fees for the term will be granted. In all other cases of withdrawal from the university, students may have tuition refunded according to the following schedule: 

Withdrawal before classes begin

Full refund, including fees*

Withdrawal during the first or second week of classes

80 percent refund

Withdrawal during the third, fourth, or fifth week of classes

60 percent refund

Withdrawal during the sixth week of classes

20 percent refund

Withdrawal after the sixth week

No refund

*Fees will not be refunded after the start of the term. Tuition charges paid from grants or loans will be restored to those funds on the same prorated basis and will not be refunded or carried forward. If a student has to drop a special fee course (music, golf, etc.) or drops a paid audit during the first two weeks of the drop/add period, a full refund may be granted with the approval of the dean. The student health fee will not be refunded. Student loans must also be returned according to a government required formula. Once a withdrawal or leave of absence form is sent to the aid officer, they will notify the student about the amount of funds they will need to return. Sanford fellowships are not prorated and are returned to Sanford in full.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Information and Publications

Under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, both fellowship payments and assistantships may be taxable. For general information about the taxability of scholarships and fellowships, students should see IRS publication 970 (see

For international students, fellowship/assistantship payments are subject to withholding of federal and state income taxes, based on the existing tax treaty between the student’s country and the United States. In addition, there is an IRS requirement that tuition payments for foreign students must be reported to the federal government. Tax treaties can be viewed on the web. Each student’s tax situation is unique, and the Duke payroll office provides assistance to enrolled students regarding withholding requirements. Duke employees are prohibited from providing tax advice; hence students should contact the IRS or a qualified tax advisor concerning taxes and income inquiries.