Applying for Financial Aid

Section 1


What is Financial Aid?

Financial aid includes all resources other than those of the students and their families, which are used to finance a legal education. It includes:

  • Scholarships and Grants, from the Law School or any other organization
  • Educational Loans (federal or private)
  • Veteran's Benefits
  • Americorps Education Awards

How do I apply?

Financial aid at Duke Law typically comes in two forms - Scholarships and Loans. The timing and process of applying for each are outlined below.  


After being selected for admission, applicants can apply for scholarship funding from Duke Law.  Scholarships are offered in the form of a total sum to be disbursed evenly over the six semesters of the student’s enrollment (unless otherwise specified in the Scholarship Contract).

When applying for a scholarship, you may choose to be evaluated using one of two options:

  1. On the basis of both merit and financial need
  2. On the basis of merit only

You will indicate your choice on the Duke Law Scholarship Application Form (this form is typically available in early December).

Applying for Merit- and Need-Based Awards

Those who choose to apply on the basis of both merit and need are required to complete both the Duke Law Scholarship Application Form and the Need Access Application. The steps for doing so are:

  1. Complete the Need Access Application (typically available in January). If this is your first time using Need Access, we suggest you review their helpful "New Users" section. Parental information is required on the Need Access Application.
  2. Complete and submit the Duke Law Scholarship Application Form. Please note, this form should not be submitted until after you have finished and submitted your Need Access Application.
Applying for Merit-Based Awards

Those who choose to apply on the basis of merit only must complete and submit the Duke Law Scholarship Application Form. The Need Access Application is not required.


The FAFSA is the need analysis document that must be completed by all U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are applying for any federal aid (i.e., Federal Stafford, Grad PLUS and Perkins Loans or Work Study). Students applying only for private educational loans need not complete the FAFSA.

We recommend that students complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1. Duke Law School also utilizes a priority FAFSA deadline of March 15th. Students who are eligible for a Federal Perkins Loan must complete a FAFSA by this date to receive the award. Those students who may be waiting on current tax information are encouraged to use estimated figures to assure completion of the FAFSA by the priority deadline. These figures can be edited at a later date without penalty.

To minimize delays, complete the FAFSA online at To sign the FAFSA electronically, you must register for a PIN number at If accurate tax information is not available, applicants should provide the best available estimates. Adjustments will be made when accurate information is provided. The FAFSA requires you to indicate the name of each school to which you are applying. Be sure to write/list “Duke School of Law” and note our Title IV school code as 002920. You are only allowed to list ten schools on the initial FAFSA. If you need to add an additional school, you will need to wait until the Department of Education processes the initial FASFA. Once your FAFSA has been processed, you will be notified via email. This email will provide instructions on how to view your Student Aid Report (SAR) and how to make any necessary corrections. If you need to add an additional school, please wait until you receive your SAR, or updated SAR, listing your first ten schools before making any corrections or adding additional schools.

Based on the information you provided on your FAFSA, the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of money the federal government has determined that you can contribute toward your law school education. The EFC is federally regulated and is established by income, asset, and household information that you provide on the FAFSA. We urge you to treat the EFC as a realistic number and to subtract it from the amount of loans for which you are eligible. Debt management is crucial and there is no reason to borrow more money than you need.

The Office of Financial Aid has developed a list of frequently asked questions about the FAFSA to assist Duke Law students. Students who have questions not covered here should contact the Financial Aid Office.

Federal Verification

Verification is a process that all universities receiving federal aid are required to complete. The purpose of verification is not to find fraudulent FAFSA applicants, but to find and correct common mistakes made during the filing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. All need-based aid determination must be put on hold until a student provides the necessary information requested through the verification process. If the verification process is not completed, a student will not be considered for any need-based financial aid. Thus, it is important to return the information and requested documentation as soon as possible. The federal government randomly selects FAFSA applicants for verification. Students may also be flagged for verification if conflicting information is reported on the FAFSA.

Record Keeping

Be thorough in completing AND RETAINING copies of all financial aid forms!

We cannot overemphasize the importance of maintaining thorough financial aid records. Students should keep a folder including:

  • Copies of your IRS 1040 forms with all schedules
  • Student copies of all loan applications
  • Student copies of all Promissory Notes and Entrance Loan Counseling Confirmations
  • Copies of all correspondence from our office, your lenders, and guarantee agencies.
  • Student copies of award letters/notifications for all anticipated aid, whether from Duke or external sources

Begin the habit of keeping a copy of all important correspondence; it will save you time and money later.

Prior to matriculation, our office sends correspondence to the mailing address recorded by the Admissions Office. Until the first day of classes, the Admissions Office should be contacted regarding address changes. After enrollment, please log on to the ACES system to make any changes to your name, address, or marital status.