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Duke leads top-ten National Research Universities in Merit Based Scholarships

TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2015/01/20/duke-stands-alone-among-peers-merit-based-scholarship-priorities?utm_source=Duke+Chronicle+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1eeb06b0e2-Duke+Chronicle+Daily+Newsletter+2015-01-20&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c4087a59c7-1eeb06b0e2-41702181#.VL5bKIE8KrU


While Duke, like its first-tier peers, focuses the clear majority of undergraduate financial aid on need-based grants, it leads the other top National Research Universities in merit-based scholarship assistance. As documented in the foregoing Chronicle article, 3 of 8 scholarship programs at Duke are merit based; obviously, this includes a number of "full ride" programs that cover essentially all undergraduate costs.

As a personal "sidebar," having donated to support many scholarship programs at Duke and having endowed one entirely, I am really pleased by this ratio. Unquestionably, in my opinion, need-based grants are vital and most FA capital should be focused there. However, rewarding students of all backgrounds with comprehensive and VERY generous merit-based grants, appropriately complements Duke's need-based focus.
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Replies to: Duke leads top-ten National Research Universities in Merit Based Scholarships

  • bluedogbluedog 1335 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    Agreed that it's a good thing, but comparing it to the Top 10 US News is a little silly considering the majority are in the Ivy League and the Ivy League as a conference does not allow merit based scholarships (academic OR athletic). So, those schools individually cannot make that choice even if they wanted to without defecting from the Ivy League (which obviously wouldn't happen). Not sure the policies of the conferences of MIT and CalTech, but they cannot offer full ride athletic scholarships since they're D3. Stanford, being part of the Pac-12, is not forbidden to offer full-ride merit based scholarships and does so for athletics -- so they are truly making the decision to not offer academic based merit scholarships in contrast to Duke.

    It used to be that all of the Rhodes / Truman / Marshall scholarship winners came from AB Dukes basically, but we've seen in recent years somewhat of a shift, which speaks to the breadth of exceptionalism within the Duke student body nowadays. (Although the research benefits afforded to AB Dukes -- and other scholarship recipients -- certainly also helps them when applying for ultra competitive nationwide post-grad scholarships programs).
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    @bluedog: Good post. I, too, questioned the data the Chronicle used for the Ivies -- half the schools reported upon -- due to Ivy League's well-established scholarship accord. I know the information was gleaned from the CDS (and that's generally an entirely source), but the article begs the question: what are the merit-based scholarships reported by Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Penn? Do you have any ideas?
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  • bluedogbluedog 1335 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    the article begs the question: what are the merit-based scholarships reported by Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Penn? Do you have any ideas?

    @TopTier: Who said there are any?

    "There are no academic or athletic scholarships in the Ivy League."
    http://www.ivyleaguesports.com/information/psa/index

    I also just looked up MIT, CalTech, and Stanford, and none of them even offer partial academic merit-based scholarships.
    https://finaid.caltech.edu/FAQ
    http://web.mit.edu/sfs/financial_aid/

    UChicago is the only other school in the US News Top 10 (omitted from the graphic) that offers any academic merit-based scholarships based on my research:
    https://collegeadmissions.uchicago.edu/costs/scholarships

    They have "full tuition" scholarships, but I guess The Chronicle did not consider those "full rides" because it doesn't include other cost of attendance (room+board). They provide scholarships for NM Scholars (which Duke does NOT do) and have a few other partial scholarships too.
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    @bluedog‌: My interpretation of the Chronicle's initial graphic "says" so, although I fully admit this certainly surprised me. To illustrate, the graphic indicates that 63 percent of Harvard's scholarships are need-based. Doesn't that suggest that 37 percent are not? Since -- fundamentally -- scholarships are either -need or merit-based, what else could that 37 percent represent? I may be missing something very elementary here, so please educate me.
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  • bluedogbluedog 1335 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    @TopTier: You're misreading the graphic. Those are the "percentages of students receiving need-based financial grants" out of the entirety of the student body. That is, 63% of Harvard's undergraduates receive need-based financial aid. 37% receive no aid. It's not that 37% receive some other type of aid. It's a bit confusing because the article's focus is around merit-based scholarships, but then the main graphic is about need-based scholarships. Only 38% of Duke's undergrad students apparently receive need-based aid (but that may be skewed downward by the fact that some receive merit-based aid and thus don't need need-based aid unlike at the schools that don't offer any merit-based aid). Make sense? :)

    From The Chronicle: "The University currently ranks behind several of its peers in terms of need-based financial grants. Of the U.S News and World Report top 10 schools that provided information to the 2013-14 Common Data Survey, Duke presented the lowest percentage of students receiving need-based financial grants."
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    @bluedog‌: Thank you; yes it does make sense and, equally important, it is consistent with much past Duke data I have seen and with the Ivy's long-standing "no merit or athletic scholarships" policy. I apologize for misinterpreting the Chronicle's graphic. FYI, the latest Duke "quick facts" (http://newsoffice.duke.edu/all-about-duke/quick-facts-about-duke) indicate approximately 50 percent of Duke students receive need, merit, or athletic scholarship assistance; therefore, I'd guess that about 12 percent have merit/athletic scholarships (obviously, not all "full rides").
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  • senorcollegesenorcollege 5 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    @TopTier Would Duke consider ED Students who were already accepted for the AB Duke Scholarship? It would make sense strategically to not use a scholarship on a student who has already been accepted and is obligated to attend. Thanks in advance if you know the answer.
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    @senorcollege‌: Your question isn't entirely clear (consider for what?), however:
    - An ED/A B Duke Scholar -- and, believe me, that is an EXCEPTIONALLY honor, financially and in MANY ways that are equally important but not monetary -- would not be considered for any need-based grant, simply because he will already receive an "everything-plus full ride."
    - Further, as a true "need blind" institution, Duke's Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid organizations are entirely separate and do not have a common database. Admissions has no idea of an applicant's financial status and its decisions are made entirely without regard to wealth. Once an individual is admitted, he will then be assessed for merit-based scholarships (e.g., A B Dukes, B N Dukes, and so forth).

    I hope this answers your question(s). If not, please post again and I'll respond.
    edited January 2015
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  • senorcollegesenorcollege 5 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    @TopTier - Thank you for your reply. Here is the question re-stated. Is it possible that a student who has already been accepted to Duke through the Early Decision process be awarded this exceptional honor of being an AB Duke Scholar, or is the merit scholarship used only to attract those students who have not yet committed to where they will attend in the Fall? My question has nothing to do with Financial Aid. Thanks again.
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    @senorcollege‌: Thanks for your prompt reply; I now understand your question . . . and it's easy to answer. Without any doubt, Duke will consider ED-accepted individuals for all the merit-scholarships (including the really top ones: A B and B N Duke, Robertson, etc.). In fact, I'd wager that a disproportionate percentage of merit-based scholarships are awarded to ED matriculants. Fundamentally, Duke does not play "yield games" with these merit awards, because:
    1. They simply are too important within the Duke community (special opportunities, faculty relationships, peer merit scholars, networking, overseas learning and summer programs), beyond their generous and comprehensive financial scope, and
    2. Their tradition on campus is something we just don't want to compromise or demean.
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  • bluedogbluedog 1335 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    ^While I agree with TopTier that ED-accepted students technically are still in consideration for the prestigious academic merit scholarships at Duke, I am skeptical of how often it occurs. For the Robertson, it might occur more often since that requires a separate application process, but for something like the AB Duke, it's a different animal.

    I have only heard of one person accepted ED who received an academic merit scholarships and probably knew of 15+ individuals. Obviously, my evidence is anecdotal only -- I have seen no hard statistics around these facts. Duke publicly says ALL students are considered. As senorcollege said, from Duke's perspective they don't need to try to convince accepted ED students to matriculate because they are already obligated to attend. Certainly, that's not the only purpose of these scholarships -- but it is one of them.

    It just doesn't make as much sense to offer a full-ride to somebody who has already said that they're willing to pay (after fin aid) and will attend. My speculation is that really really top flight candidates (e.g. Siemens competition winners) realize that they may be in consideration for scholarships at various institutions and want to keep their options open, and are thus more likely to apply RD, so that perhaps skews the numbers. If you ask Duke, they will say that everybody is given equal consideration, I'm sure...
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    @bluedog‌: That's quite interesting. In the last several years, I've know perhaps a dozen major Duke merit-scholarship winners; about three-fourths were admitted ED, which, throughout that period, was approximately 40 percent of each class' matriculants. Like you, this entirely anecdotal; however, the pattern we have observed seems to differ substantially. I'll make some quite, informal inquiries and see if I can ascertain any hard information.
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    @bluedog‌: I called an official who is highly involved in managing the processes and selecting the undergraduates for Duke's major merit-scholarship (I know this individual very well, we are close friends, and know she would never mislead me). She emphasized two key facts:
    - It really is a "fair shake," every admitted student who meets the scholarship's criteria is evaluated honestly, regardless of ED or RD acceptance.
    - About a third (she did not have a precise number) of the recipients are ED admits, which isn't too far from what I'd estimate is the last (say) seven classes' ED percentage (approximately 40%).
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  • bluedogbluedog 1335 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,337 Senior Member
    Very interesting @TopTier‌. Thanks for the information -- appreciate the "inside scoop." I stand corrected.
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  • senorcollegesenorcollege 5 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5 New Member
    @TopTier and @bluedog: Thank you both for the insight. It was helpful, answered my question, and very credible on all counts. Cheers.
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  • LaxDad777LaxDad777 58 replies8 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    Thanks for the info @TopTier‌ and @bluedog‌ . I'd like your input into a follow-up question. When I was at Duke many years ago, the A.B. Duke scholars seemed to be typical very elite type students. However, more recent AB Dukes I know of seem to be nationally recognized students i.e. Britney Wegner types. Do you know if it is only these type of students (Siemens winners, Ted talk circuit) that are considered. Are the more traditional very elite student still considered for AB, BN, and Robertson?
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    @LaxDad777‌: I may not have understood your question well. However, my observation -- no analyses, no data -- is our major merit-scholarship (B. N. and A. B. Dukes, for example) recipients are dominated by VERY bright and accomplished kids, most of whom we've never heard of. These students have exceptional -- and demonstrated -- potential for notable intellectual achievement. With this said however, some of our "very bright and accomplished" students have already achieved some degree of public acclaim. All of this appears to correlate very well with what was confirmed -- and reported -- in post #13: it really is a "fair shake;" every admitted student who meets the scholarship's criteria is evaluated thoroughly and honestly (obviously, however, the committees that determine these awards must quickly cull the candidates to the serious "mega-scholars," who will then be interviewed).

    If I've missed the crux of your question, please let me know and I'll try again.
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  • spayurpetsspayurpets 870 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 874 Member
    @TopTier‌
    Fundamentally, Duke does not play "yield games" with these merit awards
    While this may be true with the A.B. Duke scholarship and the other full-ride Duke scholarships (there are too few of them to really affect yield significantly), I do believe that Duke uses merit scholarships to improve yield. This is part of the Duke strategy; they started with a much smaller endowment than the Ivy League schools (Duke is an exceptionally young school, which most people don't realize) so they use their money and resources strategically. There's a blueprint here that Duke has followed for the last fifty years--spending money on smaller but successful sports rather than football (bball, golf, tennis soccer), recruiting all-star faculty to bolster faculty rep (Skip Gates, Stanley Fish e.g.) and spending on merit scholarships to boost yield. It's all part of a rather brilliant strategy to create a top 10 research institution in less than a century, and one that a lot of schools look upon in envy. It certainly helps that that a large number of their competitors have a mutual non-aggression pact (i.e., no Ivy merit scholarships). And the A.B. Duke and other named full ride scholarships also play a small but important role in this, that is, to bring in a coterie of elite students who can compete for Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. This is all about raising Duke's national profile with the least amount of dollars spent to do so.
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  • ricck1ricck1 207 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 208 Junior Member
    The ivy leagues, MIT, do not offer any merit based scholarships. All money is need based only.
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  • TopTierTopTier 2718 replies48 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,766 Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    @spayurpets‌ (re #18): Thank you; what an excellent, insightful and -- principally -- accurate post!

    I'd debate with you regarding only one key point. You imply -- the use of the term "blueprint," for example -- that a grand, all-encompassing, constantly adhered to "master strategic plan" resides in some subterranean vault under the Allen Building. Having been a member of several of Duke's senior Boards and their Executive Committees, I can guarantee -- and you obviously know this, too -- that that's simply inaccurate.

    What is both critical and true, however, is several generations of very bright, very motivated, very perceptive, and very strategically-minded leaders -- volunteer oversight/governance alumni, senior administrators, key faculty, major donors, and more -- have made rather wise and farsighted decisions to guide Duke's journey since the days of W. P. Few . . . and especially in the last approximately 45 years. Duke has made some mistakes, of course, but most of our decisions have been quite good, as substantiated by the rather incredible fact (which you highlight) that Duke University, which evolved from Trinity College less then a hundred years ago, and is now solidly included in the first-tier of National Research Universities. Terry Sanford, who may well have been both the visionary and the architect of Duke's migration from (probably) the best Southern university to the ranks of America's premier institutions, (as you know) introduced the term "outrageous ambitions" with regard to the University's upward mobility and excellence in all arenas. Thankfully, it remains a hallmark of our planning and execution for the future.

    =================

    A "nit" regarding yield (not for you, spayurpets‌, but for others who may subsequently read this post): When a Robertson, an A. B. Duke, or a B. N. Duke (etc.) "full ride" merit-based scholarship is awarded to a potential Truman, Churchill, Goldwater, Rhodes, etc. scholar, in my opinion it does not consequentially alter yield and, therefore, it truly is not "yield gaming." That's because the aggregate number of these splendid merit scholarships is SO small -- not to mention the even smaller number of potential Duke matriculants such awards might effect -- that they probably do not alter any class' final "yield rate" by even a single percent.
    edited January 2015
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