School of Nursing Increases Need-Based Scholarships

School of Nursing Increases Need-Based Scholarships

School of Nursing Increases Need-Based Scholarships to $3.5M, Including Some Full-Tuition. This enhanced scholarship offering is designed to make the pursuit of a nursing career at Duke more equitable and attainable.


As part of the School’s dedication to creating equitable opportunities for students to pursue nursing, the Duke University School of Nursing has committed to providing more need-based scholarships for students seeking the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree. Beginning in the fall of 2024, the School will increase scholarship funding by $2 million – for a total of $3.5 million – and provide full-tuition scholarships for the first time. 

This increased funding for financial aid is possible because of the significant growth in alumni giving to the School of Nursing Annual Fund, generous contributions from donors for new and existing scholarship endowments, and dedicated support from the school's reserve funds which have appreciated over time through solid investment of resources. 

“We want a Duke University School of Nursing education to be accessible, regardless of your socio-economic background,” said Michael Relf, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, Professor of Nursing and Global Health and Interim Dean, Duke University School of Nursing, and Associate Chief Nurse Executive for Academic Partnerships and Innovation, Duke University Health System.  “We have a responsibility, given our place in the spectrum of nursing schools, to produce not only excellent nurses, but make available our programs to all, not just to those who have resources.  This aligns with our mission of advancing social justice.”

The School previously awarded about 40 need-based scholarships per year to ABSN students, but will boost that to around 70 ABSN scholarships, some of which will cover students’ full tuition. 

“We are really trying to make sure that we're doing this in an equitable manner,” said Jill Cordell, senior director of financial aid and institutional research. “We want to be accessible to all applicants, regardless of their financial ability. We want to make sure students with limited resources don't discount the Duke University School of Nursing just because it is a private school. There is funding to help make their education possible.”

Students interested in applying for need-based scholarships at the School of Nursing must fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and The College Board’s CSS Profile, which is an online application used by colleges and scholarship programs to award institutional aid. 

The Financial Aid office reviews the FAFSA and Profile, in addition to students’ and families’ federal tax documents, to determine need-based scholarship funding. 

Scholarships Part of Focus on Health Equity, Social Justice

Duke School of Nursing’s push to provide more scholarships for students is part of a larger effort at the school to focus on the core values of health equity, social justice, and diversity, inclusion, and belonging. 

One major goal of the School is to recruit students, especially those from backgrounds who might have thought a Duke education wasn’t possible for them financially. 

“For students wanting to come to Duke, they are seeking the robust opportunities available to them to become leaders in nursing,” said Relf. “They want to change the landscape of healthcare. They want to develop new procedures and protocols to make care improvements. They potentially want to advance to leadership positions in health systems, become an advanced practice nurse, a nurse educator or scientist.”

A nursing staff representative of society is crucial to building trust with patients and understanding their unique needs.  The School has made strides in these areas and is committed to doing more. 

For the past nine years, Duke School of Nursing has been recognized as a Best Nursing School for Men in Nursing by the American Assembly for Men in Nursing. In 2021, the School earned its second Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award presented by “INSIGHT Into Diversity” magazine. The award is considered a national honor and is awarded to colleges and universities that exhibit an outstanding dedication to diversity and inclusion.
In 2023, DUSON’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is ranked No. 1 in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Students who study at the School also have opportunities to work and learn at Duke Hospitals and the Duke Health System, one of the top health systems in the world.

“We hear repeatedly from employers that being a Duke graduate gives you an advantage in terms of being hired, because the Duke brand and the quality that goes behind it in our nursing school is real,” Relf said. “They know they're going to get a nurse who is a nurse who can critically think, make sound clinical decisions based on best evidence, and collaborate with and lead interprofessional teams.”

This article was adapted for the web and originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2024 edition of Duke Nursing Magazine.

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