Financing Your Degree

Outrageous ambition starts within the heart of one person, but attaining the goal of an outrageous ambition will require the help of others. At Sanford, we believe in you and your potential to have impact on the world. To this end, we do everything we can to help you fund your education.

The Sanford School has a multitude of fellowship opportunities, and we offer some merit-based financial aid to every student. There are also many other options to discover funding such as third-party fellowships from various Sanford partners, as well as student loans.

We understand that financing your MPP can be an intimidating process, but at Sanford, you are not alone on your journey. We are here to help.

Explore Your Financial Assistance Options

    We encourage you to start your application and financial aid research early to maximize your options.

    We encourage you to start your application (link to application) and financial aid research early to maximize your options.


    Our current policy allows us to provide merit-based scholarships to ALL accepted MPP applicants who are not receiving full funding from outside sources. Sanford issues merit-based awards to our domestic and international students in the form of tuition scholarships and/or teaching, research, or staff assistantships. You should indicate on your application that you would like to be considered for financial aid. We require no additional documentation.

    US citizens are also guaranteed assistantships for two academic years of study, conditional on satisfactory coursework progress during the first year. International students may apply to positions that remain open. Dual degree students only receive tuition fellowships during their first year of the MPP program and are not guaranteed assistantships due to the additional credit requirements of their first-year plan. They may apply to any assistantships that are unfilled.


    The Sanford School has a multitude of fellowship opportunities. All students are automatically considered for these awards upon application to Sanford, except for the Ladd Fellowship which requires a separate application. There are also many third-party fellowships available from our partners.

    Explore our fellowship page for a list of all Sanford -related fellowships and to read the stories from many of our recent fellowship recipients.  

    Student Loans

    US Citizens & Permanent Residents

    The Sanford Financial Aid Office will assist US citizens and permanent residents in obtaining student loans through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program. Applicants should submit a FAFSA on, or before, May 1, to Duke University (002920) if they are interested in Federal Loans and/or if they will be receiving an assistantship.

    If you have questions about federal financial aid, please contact Brandon Smith, Sanford's Director of Financial Aid. The Duke Student Loan Office website also provides detailed information on the Federal Direct Student Loan Programs. You may also visit the FAFSA website for detailed information on these programs, repayment plans or to file your FAFSA. For students who choose to use private lenders, Duke provides a Recommended Lender List.

    International Students

    Private Alternative Student Loan

    An international student with a U.S. co-signer can borrow through various financial institutions. Private/Alternative Loans are credit-based student loans that require a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident co-signer. Students may borrow up to the cost of attendance, less other financial aid. These loans provide for in-school deferment of payments and a post-graduation grace period. Both the grace period and the repayment period can vary by lender. Please refer to the Duke University Recommended Lender List to view a list of loan programs and to learn more about specific interest rates, repayment terms, and other loan features.

    Additional External Funding Resources for International Students

    Various international agencies, such as those below, provide funding for international students to study in the U.S. including:

    AmeriCorps, City Year, Peace Corps, Teach for America, and Yellow Ribbon program support

    Under agreements with AmeriCorps, City Year, Peace Corps, Teach for America, and Yellow Ribbon programs, students who are accepted into the Duke MPP Program are guaranteed a tuition fellowship:

    • For two-year MPP students, the fellowship is a minimum of $14,000 per year, through a combination of a tuition fellowship and payment for community service, teaching, research, or graduate assistantship.
    • For dual-degree programs, students receive a $12,000 tuition fellowship during their first year of study. They must spend year one in the MPP program before starting the dual-degree curriculum in the law (JD), environment (MEM), or business (MBA) program.

    These fellowships are the minimum students will receive. All applicants from partner programs will also receive full consideration for additional, merit-based tuition assistance based on the strength of their application.

    Variety of logos: Peace Corps, City year, AmeriCorps and Teach for America

    Pickering and Rangel Fellows, PPIA Fellows, and Truman Scholars

    The Duke MPP Program recognizes and provides application fee waivers for Pickering and Rangel Fellows, PPIA Fellows, and Truman Scholars. Prior to submitting your application, please email us with your fee waiver request and the required written documentation of your Pickering, Rangel, PPIA, or Truman Scholar award. We then can help waive your fee. Please also include your fellowship documentation in your application. Contact MPP admissions

    Duke University participates in the national consortium of graduate programs that recruit and support Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who wish to pursue advanced degrees.

    All students have an ongoing obligation to notify the Duke MPP Program Office upon receipt of external funding, scholarships, and grants obtained independently. The Duke MPP Program reserves the right to amend financial aid awards if a student receives external funding, applies to become a dual degree student, or fails to maintain satisfactory academic performance (at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average). 

    MPP Student Financial Aid

    Brandon Smith


    Brandon assists students with federal checklist completion, and FAFSA verification. He also determines and awards all federal loan funding and federal work study funds. Questions regarding student financial planning or questions about your cost of attendance? Contact him at

    MPP Admissions & Scholarships

    Jessica Pan


    Jessica Pan recruits students to Sanford, finalizes admission decisions, and allocates merit-based scholarships. Questions about admissions and scholarships? Contact her at