Harvard University Financial Aid Guide

Harvard University is renowned for its academic excellence and has a commitment to ensuring that a Harvard education is accessible to students from diverse backgrounds. Pursuing higher education can be a significant financial undertaking, but Harvard provides comprehensive financial aid programs to support students throughout their academic journey. In this Harvard University Financial Aid Guide, we will explore the various types of financial aid available, the application process, scholarships, work-study programs, loans, and resources to help you navigate the financial aspects of attending Harvard.

Understanding Financial Aid at Harvard University

Types of Financial Aid

At Harvard University, there are two primary types of financial aid: need-based and merit-based. Need-based financial aid is awarded based on a student’s financial circumstances, while merit-based aid is given in recognition of exceptional academic or extracurricular achievements.

Need-Based Financial Aid

Harvard is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. This means that if you are accepted into Harvard and demonstrate financial need, the university will provide the necessary financial aid to bridge the gap between your family’s contribution and the cost of attending Harvard.

Merit-Based Financial Aid

In addition to need-based aid, Harvard offers merit-based scholarships and grants. These awards are given to students who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievements, artistic talents, or exceptional contributions in other areas. Merit-based aid does not require a demonstration of financial need.

Applying for Financial Aid

Eligibility Criteria

Financial aid at Harvard University is available to both domestic and international students. There are no specific academic or athletic requirements to be eligible for need-based aid. However, merit-based scholarships may have specific eligibility criteria based on exceptional achievements or talents.

Required Documents

To apply for financial aid at Harvard, you will need to submit the following documents:

  1. CSS Profile: The CSS Profile is an online application that collects detailed information about your family’s finances. It helps Harvard assess your financial need accurately.
  2. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): The FAFSA is required for U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens to determine eligibility for federal aid programs.
  3. Additional Documentation: Harvard may request additional documentation, such as tax returns, W-2 forms, and other financial statements, to verify the information provided in the CSS Profile and FAFSA.


Harvard University has specific deadlines for financial aid applications. It is crucial to adhere to these deadlines to ensure consideration for financial aid. The deadlines typically fall in early or mid-February for regular decision applicants and mid-November for early action applicants.

The Financial Aid Application Process

Filling out the CSS Profile

The CSS Profile is a comprehensive application that gathers detailed information about your family’s income, assets, and expenses. It helps Harvard assess your financial need accurately. It is important to fill out the CSS Profile thoroughly and accurately, providing all the required information and documentation.

Submitting the FAFSA

In addition to the CSS Profile, you must also submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for federal financial aid programs. The FAFSA collects information about your family’s income, assets, and household size. Even if you are applying for need-based aid at Harvard, submitting the FAFSA is necessary to be considered for federal aid programs.

Additional Forms and Documentation

Harvard may require additional forms and documentation to verify the information provided in the CSS Profile and FAFSA. Ensure that you submit all requested documentation by the specified deadlines. It is essential to provide accurate and up-to-date information to avoid any delays in the evaluation and awarding of financial aid.

Evaluation and Awarding of Financial Aid

Need-Based Evaluation

Once you have submitted all the required financial aid forms, Harvard’s financial aid office evaluates your application. They consider your family’s financial circumstances, including income, assets, and other relevant factors, to determine your demonstrated financial need. Harvard aims to provide a financial aid package that makes attending Harvard affordable for all students, regardless of their financial background.

Determining the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount Harvard expects your family to contribute towards your education costs. It is calculated based on the information provided in the CSS Profile and other required documents. The difference between the cost of attendance and the EFC determines your financial need. Harvard’s financial aid office takes into account various factors to determine the EFC, such as income, assets, family size, and number of siblings attending college.

Financial Aid Packages

After evaluating your financial need, Harvard University creates a personalized financial aid package for each eligible student. The package typically includes a combination of grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and loans to meet your financial need. The financial aid package aims to ensure that the cost of attending Harvard is affordable for students from all economic backgrounds.

Scholarships and Grants

Harvard Scholarships

Harvard offers a range of scholarships to support students with demonstrated financial need. These scholarships can cover a significant portion or the entirety of tuition, fees, and other educational expenses. Harvard scholarships are renewable for up to four years, provided the student continues to demonstrate financial need.

External Scholarships

In addition to Harvard scholarships, students are encouraged to explore external scholarship opportunities. Numerous organizations and foundations offer scholarships based on academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, community service, or specific talents. Research and apply for external scholarships to supplement your financial aid package.

Work-Study Programs

Benefits of Work-Study

Harvard provides work-study programs as part of the financial aid package. Work-study allows students to earn money to contribute to their educational expenses while gaining valuable work experience. Work-study jobs are typically on-campus and offer flexible hours to accommodate academic commitments. Engaging in work-study can provide valuable skills and contribute to personal and professional development.

Finding Work-Study Opportunities

Harvard University offers a wide range of work-study opportunities across various departments and offices. The Harvard Student Employment Office helps students find suitable work-study positions that align with their interests and schedules. These jobs can provide valuable skills and contribute to personal and professional development.

Loans and Repayment Options

Federal Student Loans

Harvard encourages students to utilize federal student loans as a part of their financial aid package. Federal student loans offer favorable terms and conditions, including fixed interest rates, flexible repayment plans, and options for loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment. It is important to research and understand the terms and conditions of federal loans before borrowing.

Harvard Loan Programs

In addition to federal loans, Harvard offers its own loan programs to assist students with their educational expenses. These loans may have specific eligibility requirements and repayment terms. Harvard loan programs provide an additional financing option for students who require assistance beyond scholarships, grants, and federal loans.

Loan Repayment Options

After graduation, it is important to have a plan for repaying your student loans. Harvard provides resources and guidance on choosing the most suitable repayment plan. Options such as income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs, and loan consolidation are available to help make loan repayment manageable.

Resources and Support

Financial Aid Offices

Harvard’s financial aid offices are dedicated to providing support and guidance throughout the financial aid process. They can answer your questions, assist with application forms, and provide information on available resources. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the financial aid office for assistance.

Counseling and Guidance

Harvard understands that managing finances and making informed decisions can be challenging. The university offers counseling and guidance services to help students navigate the financial aid process effectively. These services can provide personalized advice, financial planning, and strategies for managing educational expenses.

Financial Literacy Programs

To promote financial literacy among students, Harvard offers various programs and resources. These initiatives aim to enhance financial knowledge and skills, including budgeting, managing student loans, and making informed financial decisions. Take advantage of these programs to develop a strong foundation in financial literacy.


Obtaining financial aid at Harvard University can make a world-class education accessible to students from diverse backgrounds. By understanding the financial aid options, application process, and available resources, you can navigate the financial aspects of your Harvard education confidently. Remember to research and adhere to the deadlines, gather the necessary documentation, and seek guidance when needed. Harvard is committed to helping students achieve their academic goals without being burdened by excessive financial stress.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Can international students apply for financial aid at Harvard University? Yes, Harvard University offers financial aid to both domestic and international students. The financial aid process for international students may have some additional requirements, so it’s important to carefully review the guidelines provided by the university.
  2. Is financial aid at Harvard only based on financial need? While Harvard is committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of all admitted students, the university also offers merit-based scholarships and grants. These awards are based on exceptional academic or extracurricular achievements and do not require demonstrated financial need.
  3. What happens if my financial circumstances change after submitting the financial aid application? If your family’s financial circumstances change significantly after submitting your financial aid application, you can contact the financial aid office at Harvard. They may be able to reassess your financial need and make adjustments to your financial aid package accordingly.
  4. Do I have to repay the grants and scholarships I receive from Harvard? No, grants and scholarships are typically considered gift aid and do not need to be repaid. However, loans, work-study earnings, and other forms of financial assistance may have specific repayment terms and conditions.
  5. Can I reapply for financial aid each year? Yes, you must reapply for financial aid each year at Harvard. The financial aid application process is required annually to assess your changing financial circumstances and determine your eligibility for aid.

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