How One University Helps Student-Aid Recipients Make Good Choices

"Duke University is one of a handful of wealthy colleges with very generous student-aid policies," reports The Chronicle of Higher Education's Head Count blog

"The university is need-blind in admissions and meets admitted students’ full demonstrated need. Its aid awards to the neediest students don’t include any loans, and for even the highest-income students loans are capped at $5,000 a year.

The university’s goal is to minimize student borrowing and ensure that students who do borrow take out the best available loans, Alison Rabil, assistant vice provost and director of financial aid, said in a presentation here on Monday at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting.

With those policies, it’s no surprise that the average debt at graduation for Duke students is on the low side. “We tell them it’s a really good used car,” Ms. Rabil said, “or a really bad new one. We think it’s worth it.”

Even though student debt doesn’t seem to be a big problem for Duke students, the financial-aid staff—which includes eight counselors and a separate loan-office staff that also works with graduate students—does a number of things to help students make good financial decisions.

Duke won’t certify a private loan until a student maxes out on federal ones. And it requires students to do their loan counseling in person."

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