Financial assistance in the form of merit-based scholarships, fellowships, or assistantships as well as limited need-based grants, is available for qualified students. Funds to support these awards are limited. As a result, all students must have other financial resources available to support their studies. For many students, the federal loan programs provide a large portion of the funds necessary to cover the cost of attendance. Students in the DEL-MEM Program may also be eligible for limited financial support from the school.
All professional degree students who are US citizens or permanent residents must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for student loans and work-study. A separate application must be filed for each academic year. Applicants may obtain a FAFSA online at studentaid.gov. The report should be sent to Duke University code 002920. Professional degree applicants must also complete the financial aid section of the Application for Admission.
Scholarships and assistantships are granted from school funds, which are in limited supply. Consequently, only highly qualified students can expect to receive awards. Scholarships and assistantships are awarded based on a combination of demonstrated outstanding academic ability, perspectives, and experiences, and demonstrated professional promise as seen on the application for admission.
Fellowships are obtained from foundation grants, private industry, or individual donors. Donors of fellowship funds sometimes place restrictions on the use of the funds as well as on the amount of awards.
Research assistantships are obtained primarily from grant and contract funds awarded to various faculty in the school. University-funded assistantships may be available for students who have sufficient experience to contribute to one or more ongoing research or academic programs. Assistantships awarded by the Nicholas School do not carry any sort of tuition waiver or stipend.
Pursuant to the Tax Reform Act of 1986, students performing any services (whether degree-related or not) required by their scholarship, fellowship, or assistantship must have income taxes withheld. However, if the student anticipates no tax liability at the end of the calendar year, they can note “exempt” on the state and federal withholding forms and no taxes will be withheld. Income tax information is reported to the student by the university in January.
In all instances, admission to the Nicholas School is a prerequisite for the award of assistance in any form. If offered financial assistance, professional degree students typically receive the award for two years of study; it is expected that they will complete their degree within this period. The school has the right to examine the progress of each student to determine eligibility for continuation of awards beyond the first year. Students not in good standing (with regard to academics or honor code) are not eligible for any new awards from the Nicholas School (e.g., scholarships, fellowships, recognitions without monetary component) whether academic performance is an eligibility criterion or not.
No student will receive financial aid while on probation unless an appeal is approved by the senior associate dean for academics and the assistant dean for student services.
In no case may the amount of financial aid awarded to a student from all sources in a given year exceed the estimated annual costs of attending the Nicholas School as determined by the school.
Financial Aid for Concurrent Degree Students
NSOE students in a concurrent degree program with another Duke program will have an adjustment made to their NSOE tuition charge to a new blended tuition rate, as well as an adjustment in their NSOE financial aid award. Students in a concurrent degree program will be charged the equivalent of three semesters of tuition; similarly, concurrent degree students who have been offered school-based aid will receive the equivalent of three semesters of aid.
Students pursuing a concurrent degree with a non-Duke program are obligated to three semesters of enrollment and payment of three semesters of tuition and fees. School-based aid offered at the time of admission will be awarded for three semesters to coincide with the three semesters in which the student is enrolled at Duke.
In all cases, students pursuing or considering pursuing a concurrent degree must complete the survey found at the Nicholas School website, nicholas.duke.edu/about/policies/tuition-and-financial-aid-policy-concurrent-degree-students, and meet with the school’s financial aid counselor before October 15 of their first year at Duke, regardless of where they begin their concurrent degree program.
Eligibility for Financial Assistance
A significant portion of the financial assistance for students in the Nicholas School of the Environment is provided by federal, Title IV funds. To qualify for such funding, usually in the form of loans, students must meet federal eligibility requirements including the maintenance of satisfactory academic progress (see Satisfactory Academic Progress section in Academic Regulations). Professional degree students must meet satisfactory academic progress standards to maintain eligibility for Title IV funds.
Although professional degree students, including DEL-MEM students, have five years from the first date of matriculation in the school to complete their degree requirements, they are eligible for federal financial assistance for the equivalent of four full-time semesters only. Students who fail to meet the satisfactory academic progress requirements or need federal financial assistance for more than the equivalent of four semesters may appeal to the Admissions and Awards Committee.
Merit-based assistantships may be awarded to a select number of professional degree on-campus MEM and MF students during their first year of study to assist faculty and staff with teaching, research, professional, and other projects. It is expected that students will work for eight hours a week on their assigned project. Assistantships require a regular work schedule to be arranged between the student and the faculty or staff member to whom they are assigned. Students receiving an assistantship will be informed of the positions available, application, interview, and assignment process just prior to the start of the fall term
Students who receive assistantships are paid by the Nicholas School on the monthly payroll, and taxes are taken out. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the award for eight hours per week of assistance is $4,000 gross. Normally, assistantships are available only for the academic year and require full-time enrollment in the school. If a student completes the assistantship in full, is in good academic standing, and returns to full-time enrollment in the Nicholas School for their second year in 2024-2025, the student will receive the assistantship funds as scholarship applied directly to their bursar account toward their tuition for the second year.
The Nicholas School reserves a limited amount of financial aid for students with significant financial needs. Both domestic and international students in the on-campus MEM, MF, and DEL-MEM degrees may apply for need-based aid. There is a separate required application process for a student to be considered for a need-based grant. The Nicholas School uses College Board (CSS Profile and IDOC) services for students to submit their applications. For students entering in the fall, the deadline for completing an application for need-based aid is mid-February preceding the Fall enrollment term. Parental asset and income information are required as part of the application for a need-based grant. Additional details regarding the application process may be found at the Nicholas School website, nicholas.duke.edu/admissions/financial-support-aid. To receive the same need-based grant in their second year, students must be enrolled full-time in the Nicholas School in good standing, affirm that their financial situation has not improved by the end of their first year and they must be returning to full-time enrollment in the Nicholas School for their second year in the next academic year.
Work-study funds for professional degree students are administered through the Office of Student Services. At the beginning of the academic year, students are made aware of work-study opportunities and informed of the application procedures. Interested students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility. Because the FAFSA is available only to US citizens and permanent residents, work/study funds are not available for students enrolling in the program on the F-1 or J-1 visa. Some on-campus jobs may not require work/study funding but many will require it. Currently, students enrolled in the DEL-MEM Program are not eligible for work-study funds.
Application for Awards for the Entering Student
Students wishing to be considered for merit-based scholarships must submit a complete application no later than December 15 preceding the fall for which admission is desired. Applications received after December 15 will be considered for merit-based assistance only if funds remain after considering all on-time applications. Applicants should initiate the necessary action early to ensure that the required documents are filed with the school’s Office of Student Services on or before December 15 to be assured of equal consideration for financial aid. Completed applications received after the December 15 deadline will be considered if vacancies occur at a later date.
Notification and Acceptance of Awards
Applicants who submit completed applications by December 15 and are subsequently offered admission will be notified soon after admission regarding merit-based and/or need-based aid. Once offered by the university or the school, funds are committed to one student and are therefore unavailable to others. As a consequence, it is the policy of the Nicholas School that all awards offered may be declined prior to May 1 without prejudice. However, offers accepted and left in effect after May 1 are binding for both the student and the school.
Federally insured student loans are often necessary and useful in helping a student afford the graduate program of their choice. Students considering federal loans should consider the nature of the loan and the positive and negative aspects of future loan payments and should also investigate all other forms of financial assistance.
Federal law requires all students to have completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine financial need. The FAFSA form may be obtained online at studentaid.gov or by contacting a college or university financial aid office or the Office of Student Services. No loan application will be processed without the FAFSA form having been submitted to the central processor. In addition, in some cases, federal law requires verification of income and other information.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans of up to $20,500 are available for eligible graduate/professional students. For loans made to new borrowers, interest is calculated at a fixed annual rate of 7.05 percent for the 2023-2024 academic year. Interest on unsubsidized loans must be paid by the student during enrollment or capitalized to the principal at the borrower’s request. A loan origination fee of approximately 1.057 percent will be charged and will be deducted before the loan disburses, valid through September 30, 2023.
Students who borrow through the federal direct unsubsidized program will be given entrance and exit counseling concerning the projected and actual costs of their loans. They will also be provided with information on loan consolidation should this repayment option be desired or needed.
Graduate Plus Loan Information
The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 allows graduate and professional students to borrow under the Federal PLUS loan program. Students must be graduate/professional students enrolled at least half-time in a matriculated program; they must complete a current FAFSA; they must first apply for the maximum loan eligibility in Federal Unsubsidized loan before the PLUS can be awarded; parents of graduate students will not be eligible to borrow the loan.
PLUS Loan borrowers are required to pass a basic credit check. The borrower may borrow the difference between the total cost of the student’s education (including books, fees, and personal expenses) minus any financial aid the student will receive. The interest rate on the PLUS loan is 8.05 percent for the 2023-2024 academic year. A loan fee of approximately 4.228 percent (valid through September 30, 2023) will be charged and will be deducted proportionately prior to each loan disbursement.
Repayment begins within sixty days after the final disbursement of each loan. The maximum repayment period is ten years, and the minimum monthly payment is $50. Students may be eligible to defer payments as long as they maintain at least half-time enrollment. In addition, some loan guarantee agencies charge a 1 percent guarantee fee, which will also be deducted from disbursements.
Fellowships for MEM/MF Students
Merit-based awards depend on the generosity of donors. Merit-based awards depend on the generosity of donors. Students receiving merit-based awards may be supported by one of the following endowments. Any awards noted below were identified and assigned in spring 2023 for the 2023-24 academic year.
Alumni Fellowship. Established by graduates of the Nicholas School, the Alumni Fellowship Endowment provides fellowships to minority students and to rising second-year students to support master’s project research.
Lawrence E. Blanchard Society of Scholars and Fellows. Established by Charles and Bernard Blanchard, this fund provides scholarships to undergraduates and fellowships to graduate students studying at the Duke University Marine Laboratory.
Norman L. Christensen Jr. Fellowship. This fellowship was established by Duke and Nicholas School alumni and friends in honor of the founding dean of the Nicholas School, Dr. Christensen.
William Cleveland Fellowship. Established by William Cleveland, this fellowship provides financial assistance to Nicholas School students.
The Creem Scholarship Fund. This fund was established to support Master of Forestry students.
COLFUTURO Scholarship. In partnership with the Fundación para el Futuro de Colombia, the Nicholas School provides tuition scholarship support to eligible admitted students with Colombian citizenship.
Cummings Family Fellowship. Established by Bruce and Myrna Cummings, this fellowship supports Nicholas School students.
Barbara L. Dannenberg Fellowship. Established by Richard Dannenberg, this fellowship is for Nicholas School students with a preference for the field of ecology.
Kathryn M. Deane and Walter L. Deane Fellowship. Established by Walter Deane and Kathryn Deane, this fellowship provides financial assistance to African American students during the summer session at the Marine Lab.
Dean’s Scholarship. This fund was created by the Dean of the Nicholas School to recognize students with outstanding academic credentials.
Field Fellowship Fund. This fund was established by Marshall Field V, a close friend of the Nicholas School, to support students at the Nicholas School of the Environment.
Virlis L. Fischer Student Recognition Endowment. Established by Mrs. Bernice Fischer, this fund provides fellowships to second-year professional degree students at the Nicholas School and provides an award to the Master of Environmental Management graduate with the highest academic achievement.
Forestry and Environmental Studies Fellowship. Established by the Cordelia S. May Trust, this fellowship provides financial support to Nicholas School students.
Friends of the Earth Scholarship Fund. This fund was established to support students interested in creative environmental advocacy as exemplified by Friends of the Earth International
FUNED Scholarship. In partnership with the Fundación Mexicana para la Educación, la Tecnologia y la Ciencia (FUNED), this scholarship supports students with Mexican citizenship.
LeRoy George Scholarship. Established by the LeRoy George Children’s Nature Museum Inc., this fund provides fellowships to Nicholas School students, with preference given first to students from Haywood and Buncombe Counties and Hendersonville in North Carolina. Second preference will be given to students from the Southern Appalachian region.
Verne Lester Harper Fellowship. Established by Verne Lester Harper, this fellowship provides financial support to Nicholas School students.
Charlotte and Robert Hay Fellowship. Established by Charlotte and Robert Hay, this fellowship provides support to Nicholas School students.
Richard Heintzelman Family Fellowship. This fellowship was established by Richard Heintzelman to support students interested in environmental economics or forestry.
Tim and Karen Hixon Wildlife Conservation Fellowship. This fellowship was established by George C. and Karen Hixon to support students interested in wildlife management and conservation.
Richard E. Hug Fellowship. Established by Richard Hug, this fellowship provides financial support to Nicholas School students.
International Paper Corporation Fellowship. This fellowship was established to support students at the Nicholas School of the Environment.
Thomas W. Keesee Jr. Fellowship. Established by Thomas Keesee Jr., this fellowship is for Nicholas School students.
Gorguze-Peters Family Fellowship Fund. Established by Lynn Gorguze and Scott Peters, this fund provides fellowships to graduate professional Nicholas School students.
Carolyn Odom Little School of the Environment Scholarship. Established by Terry H. Little, provides scholarships for Nicholas School students.
Melanie Lynn Memorial Scholarship. Established by Peter Lynn and David Lynn, this fellowship is for graduate students studying at the Marine Lab, with first preference to female students.
The Masselink Family Fellowship. Established by Mark D. and Priscilla P. Masselink, this fund provides fellowships to graduate professional Nicholas School students.
Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship. Established by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this fellowship provides financial support for research experience at the Nicholas School.
Muchnic Foundation Fellowship. Established by the foundation, this fellowship provides financial support to Nicholas School students.
Mary Wade Myers and William D. Myers Scholarship Fund. Established by Mary Wade and William Myers, this fund provides scholarships to professional Nicholas School students.
The Nemergut Scholarship Fund. This fund was established in memory of an outstanding ecologist, researcher, and educator, Diana Nemergut, wife of former dean, Alan Townsend, to support students at the Nicholas School of the Environment. The fund supports students who, through their background, can enrich the diversity perspectives in the academic life of the Nicholas School.
Nicholas School Professional Student Fellowship. Established by Sally S. Kleberg, this fellowship provides financial support to Nicholas School students.
Nicholas School Service Volunteer Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes the value the Nicholas School places on the diversity of experiences from our students who have served as volunteers in service organizations such as Americorps, City Year, Peace Corps, Teach for America, and others.
Orvis Fellowship. Established by the Perkins Charitable Foundation, the Orvis-Perkins Foundation, and the Leigh H. Perkins Charitable Lead Trust, this fellowship is offered to Nicholas School students.
Nancy A. and Simon B. Rich Fellowship. Established by Simon and Nancy Rich, this fellowship provides financial support to Nicholas School students.
Safrit Scholarship Fund. This fund was established to support students at the Nicholas School of the Environment.
Gary H. Salenger Fellowship. Established by Gary Salenger, this fellowship is for Nicholas School students.
William H. Schlesinger Scholarship. This fund was established Duke and Nicholas School alumni and friends in honor of the second dean of the Nicholas School, Dr. Schlesinger.
Semans Scholarship Fund. This fund was established to support students at the Nicholas School of the Environment from Maryland.
Bartow Shaw Family Fellowship. This fellowship was established to support Master of Forestry students or students interested in forestry.
Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. Fellowship. This fellowship was established to support students interested in environmental toxicology or environmental risk assessment.
Yasuomi Tanaka Memorial Fellowship. This fellowship was established by Frances Tanaka to support international students.
Thorensen Foundation Fellowship. Established by Paul O’Connell, this fund provides fellowships for Nicholas School students.
Wade Family Fund. Established by Charles B. Wade, Jr. T’38, this fund provides scholarships for Nicholas School students studying at the Marine Lab.
Dr. Larry R. Widell Memorial Fellowship. Established by Christopher M. Widell, this fund provides scholarships to graduate professional Nicholas School students, with a preference given to doctoral students.
Zirkle Fellowships. Established by Sara and Lewis Zirkle, this fellowship is offered to Nicholas School students.