Financial Aid

Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid
Mon.–Fri., 9 am–5 pm
86 Brattle Street
Tel: 617-495-1581; Fax: 617-496-0256;

The Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid strives to make a Harvard education affordable for all admitted students. Financial aid awards are need-based and consist of grants and employment.

Conditions Governing Financial Aid Awards

    • Neither the amount of institutional financial aid granted nor the amount lent to any student shall be altered during any given academic year because of changes in the student’s academic or disciplinary status, so long as the student is permitted to remain at the College. However, adjustments in the amount of financial aid awarded may be made at any time in response to unanticipated changes in a student’s financial circumstances or additional information received about resources.

    • The nature and amount of financial aid to be awarded for the following academic year will be reviewed each summer, taking into account the financial need of the individual student and the resources available to the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid.

    • All financial aid awards are based on demonstrated need, and students seeking assistance must file a renewal application each year. Renewal application instructions are emailed to students in early February and completed application forms are due in mid-April. Students must comply with the April deadline in order to be assured of continuing financial aid, and those who do not do so may incur a financial penalty. The Committee on Financial Aid will not consider applications for assistance after August 14 without an appeal in writing.

    • If an award holder takes a leave of absence or is required to withdraw before completing the period covered by the award, an adjustment of his or her award will be necessary. That part of the award used to cover educational costs may reduce a student’s eligibility for scholarship aid in his or her final term.

    • If an award holder takes a leave of absence after an award has been made, but before registration for the academic year, the award will be cancelled. A student may apply for an award when he or she is ready to return to the College. Returning students will be expected to produce the standard summer savings amount towards their next academic year expenses. Students returning from a leave should be aware that all loan repayments and/or term bill obligations must be current before any financial aid can be granted.

    • Students returning to the College after an interval of five or more years will ordinarily not be eligible for scholarship aid from institutional sources, and their petitions for readmission must include evidence of financial resources necessary to meet all college expenses. Exceptions because of unusual circumstances will be considered by a committee comprised of members of the Administrative Board and the Financial Aid Office. Petitions for an exception should be made through the Financial Aid Office.

    • Awards are available only if the holder is regularly registered in the College as an undergraduate. The Committee will normally reduce the amount of the award if the holder chooses to live at the home of his or her parents during the academic year; study abroad for credit at a reduced cost; or if the holder is granted permission by the Administrative Board to work and pay at a reduced course rate.

    • Students may normally receive no more than eight terms of financial aid.

    • An award holder must notify the Financial Aid Office of any change in residence during the academic year for which he or she has an award.

    • An award holder is required to notify the Financial Aid Office of any substantial change in his or her financial resources for the year, such as receipt of additional outside scholarship assistance. The Committee reserves the right to review the award in the event of a change in the student’s resources.

    • Students who have borrowed from loan funds must report to the Financial Aid Office for an exit interview prior to graduation or at the time of a leave of absence or requirement to withdraw.

Basis of Original Award

Scholarships are awarded to students who need financial assistance in order to pursue their course of studies. Awards are based solely on need and the Committee on Financial Aid makes the final determination of family need. Annual awards range from $500 to over $50,000.

All awards are made annually on the basis of financial need as demonstrated through a variety of forms, including the College Scholarship Service PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Financial need is determined in accordance with federal guidelines, and following the general procedures of the College Scholarship Service and the assessment guidelines established by the Committee on Financial Aid. Detailed information regarding financial aid awards and procedures can be found on the Financial Aid Office Website.

Renewal of Financial Aid after Freshman Year

Students in the College must file an application each year for renewal of financial aid. Renewal forms include copies of the student’s and the parents’ income tax returns. The nature and amount of financial aid to be awarded for the following academic year will be reviewed each summer, taking into account the financial need of the individual student and the resources available to the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid.

Applications for aid are considered carefully every year for changes in financial need, and awards will be adjusted if the family financial resources increase or decrease markedly. The Committee is ready at all times to consider initial or additional requests for assistance from any student in the College whose family encounters financial hardship.

Expectations Regarding Other Contributions

Parental Contribution

The Committee expects parents to provide as much assistance from both income and assets as is feasible, by determination of institutional need analysis guidelines. The Committee also expects parents to provide assistance for the student during his or her entire undergraduate career. When a student’s parents are divorced, both parents are ordinarily required to file financial statements and to provide a portion of the parental contribution. Arbitrary withdrawal of parental support will not ordinarily be met with increased scholarship funds. Students facing irreconcilable differences with their parents should contact their financial aid officer to discuss the College’s Independent Student Policy guidelines.

Parent Plans

Parents of students in Harvard College have access to various loan plans. Information is available from the Financial Aid Office.

Summer Earnings

In determining eligibility for scholarship assistance, the Committee expects that students will save from $1300 to $2600 of their summer job earnings to be contributed toward the educational expenses of the following year. This expectation cannot be waived for students choosing to volunteer or participate in unpaid internships.

Student’s Own Savings

In assessing student resources, the Financial Aid Office will ordinarily ask that a small percentage of students’ savings at the beginning of each academic year be used to pay for college costs.

Outside Scholarships

Students receiving scholarship assistance are required to report to the Financial Aid Office any outside scholarships they receive, as well as whether they are renewable. Notifying another office at Harvard (i.e., the Student Receivables Office) of the receipt of an outside award does not satisfy this requirement. Outside scholarships are first used to replace the job expectation in the financial aid package, and can fully replace the summer savings expectation. Only if the amount of outside scholarships exceeds the combined job and summer savings expectations will the Harvard Scholarship be reduced.

Nonresident, Married, and Out-of-Residence Students

Nonresident Students

The charges for nonresident students are Tuition and Student Services and Health Services Fees. Students who receive permission to live off campus are assumed by the Financial Aid Office to have the same room, board, and personal expenses as students living on campus. Students desiring to live off campus may want to consider the fact that actual off-campus costs may be higher than on-campus expenses.

Married Students

The College has no scholarship funds with which to provide extra help to married students. It is the policy of the Financial Aid Office to treat married students as if they were non-resident single students, expecting the student’s parents or spouse to provide the necessary extra support. In some cases, additional loan and/or job assistance may be available.

Students Studying Out of Residence

Students studying at other institutions during the academic year who are receiving credit toward Harvard degrees will ordinarily be eligible for financial aid in accordance with the usual conditions.

Summer School

Students eligible for need-based scholarship assistance who wish to accelerate the completion of their degree requirements through taking courses at the Harvard Summer School will receive consideration for loan assistance that will be forgiven once they actually graduate on an accelerated schedule. In addition, students whose attendance at Summer School is mandated by the Administrative Board may be eligible for scholarship aid to help defray Summer School costs. Loan requests for Harvard Summer School from students not accelerating their graduation will be considered on an individual basis by the Committee on Financial Aid with careful consideration of reasonable cumulative debt limits. Students choosing to attend Summer School are cautioned that the Committee will not waive their summer savings expectation. Some limited scholarship funding for summer study abroad is available through the Office of International Programs with limited need-based awards coordinated through the financial aid office.

Gift Aid for Acceleration Fees

Scholarship holders will normally be considered for proportional grant assistance in defraying the cost of extra courses used to accelerate and graduate early. Present policy stipulates that the amount awarded will be in proportion to the amount of scholarship assistance granted during the academic year in question.

Refund Policy

If a student who is receiving any form of financial aid takes a leave of absence or is required to withdraw, the refund of institutional funds will be based on the amount of tuition and fees abated and that amount will be returned to the financial aid fund. A special refund rule applies to these funds: Federally Guaranteed Student and Parent Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Pell Grants, Federal Academic Competitiveness Grants, Federal National Smart Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Grants, and State Grants. These Title IV federal and state funds will be returned to the agencies based on the amount for which the student is no longer eligible. Copies of these refund policies are available upon request from the Financial Aid Office.

Standard Verification

Harvard University participates in the US Department of Education’s Standard Verification Program which may require additional documentation of certain federal student data.

Statement of Privacy

All information submitted for the purpose of securing financial aid is protected under Harvard policy, the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), and the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act of 2000 (GLB). Under these provisions, Harvard ensures the privacy and safeguarding of all financial aid information. For additional information, please contact the Financial Aid Office at 617-495-1581.

Financial Aid Schedule 2009–2010

August 31 (freshmen) and September 1 (upperclass): Fall Term Registration


  • Freshmen attend Financial Aid 101 sessions.

  • First time student loan borrowers sign electronic master promissory notes.


January 25: Spring Term Registration



  • Summer Federal Work Study applications available on line at (Students with term-time Work Study must reapply for summer.)

  • Seniors attend Money Management 101 sessions.


April, May

  • Seniors complete online loan repayment promissory notes.

June, July

  • Students check to be sure renewal aid applications completed.

  • Financial Aid award decisions mailed to home address.