Can't Afford My ED School- Help

I got accepted to Duke ED and after a month of going through the financial aid process and an appeal, my final cost ended up being completely unaffordable. Is there anything I can do? Or am I completely out of luck?

Did you happen to use the NPC before you applied? If so, is the financial aid offer a lot different than the NPC?

My financial aid calculators were entirely wrong. One had it at full pay and the other had it at 15k. My situation was just really different.

How much is the COA after financial aid and what can you and your family afford?

My understanding is that the inability to afford to attend the school is the only valid reason for backing out of an ED agreement. However, this applies to you and is legitimately your reason for backing out. The fact that you appealed the financial aid decision also supports this.

Is there something that makes the NPC unreliable for you? For example, do your parents own a farm, small business or rental property, or are they separated or divorced? These are known cases where financial aid tends to be bad at many private universities in the US.

Do you have applications in at affordable alternatives?

To clarify you ran the NPC and came up with wildly different results before you applied ED?

Unfortunately it appears you need to choose a more affordable option. The NPC isn’t as accurate if your family’s income situation is more complicated by a family business or other sources of income or assets.

If it’s unaffordable after the updated post-appeal FA package (and your parents agree), you will have to work with your HS GC to pull your ED application.

Have you applied elsewhere, or have any other acceptances that you haven’t pulled? If not, posters can help you regroup if you need suggestions for schools you can still apply to. Time is of the essence.


Yes-- My family’s income is based on family-owned business and real-estate. I have applied to public universities that I can afford and have scholarships at.


I haven’t pulled any of my other applications and I have applied to safeties that I can afford.


Yup, that’s it. We own a family business and have assets that we can’t shake (real-estate). It just really sucks that my circumstance screwed me over.

40k and we can afford like 13k…

1 Like

“My family’s income is based on family-owned business and real-estate.”

I just happen to know several farmers, several small business owners, and have talked to a couple of people who own rental property. One single person from this group had only one child and had done really well (millions), and could afford to be full pay at a top ranked private university. Every other family that I have known in this large group could not afford to attend a private university in the US. The top ranked private universities in the US just do not make it possible for the children of farmers and small business owners to attend. Personally I think that this really sucks.

Some of the farmers that I know happen to live in Canada. It is quite different there, and many of them do send their kids to the top universities in the country.

“I have applied to public universities that I can afford and have scholarships at.”

This is great.

I have worked in high tech for a long time (more than 40 years). 40 years ago we mostly hired from MIT and Stanford because that was where the top graduates were coming from. Today we mostly hire from in-state public universities because that is where the top graduates are coming from. University ranking services might not have noticed. However, hiring managers have noticed. You can do really well with a degree from a good public university.