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Harvard scholarships, student loans and grants

How this top university's generous financial aid program works.

Harvard might come with a huge price tag, but 70% of Harvard students receive some type of financial aid. While some of this comes from federal and state funding, this university also provides some of the most robust financial aid packages out there.

How much does it cost to go to Harvard?

Cost of attending HarvardAnnual cost
Room and board$17,160
Textbooks and supplies$800 to $1,200
Transportation and travelUp to $5,000
Health insurance Up to $3,364
Other personal expenses$2,870 to $3,270
Total cost for the 2018-2019 academic year$71,250 to $80,414

As you can see, there’s more to the cost of attendance than just tuition. When estimating how much you’ll pay to go to Harvard College, you need to factor in fees and room and board on top of textbooks, health insurance, travel costs and other personal expenses.

What’s the average student debt load for Harvard students?

Harvard might be one of the more expensive colleges out there. But students only graduate with an average student debt load of $15,114, according to 2016 data from the Department of Education. That’s less than half the national average of $37,000 the same year.

Does Harvard offer a tuition payment plan?

Yes. Harvard has a Monthly Payment Plan (MPP), which allows students and their families to pay tuition and fees in four installments per semester. Anyone at Harvard University can sign up for the MPP, with the exception of business and most law school students. However, JD law school students are eligible to sign up for MPP.

Enrolling in the MPP comes with a $35 fee per semester with no interest. Here’s how to enroll:

  1. Log in to your online student account.
  2. Click Student Accounts in the main menu.
  3. Scroll down to Payment Plan and click Enroll.

The Harvard Financial Aid Initiative

The Harvard Financial Aid Initiative is intended to make sure the school is affordable to students of all economic backgrounds. It aims to cover 100% of the funding it believes its students need with three steps.

Step 1: Harvard assesses your parent’s contribution.

This program guarantees a specific percentage of coverage depending on your family’s income:

Annual family incomeParent contribution toward tuitionCost after financial aid
Under $65,000No family contribution$0
$65,000 to $150,0000% to 10% of incomeUp to $15,000
Over $150,00010% of income and up$15,000 and up

The parent contribution is what you might have to cover with student loans if your family can’t pay out of pocket. However, if your family has a significant amount of assets, they might be asked to pay a little more. This doesn’t take home equity or retirement funds into account.

Step 2: Harvard looks at outside funding.

After determining your family contribution, Harvard looks to federal, state and private awards that you might be eligible for. You might also be signed up for a federal work-study program or a Harvard term-time job, where you trade part-time work for financial aid.

Outside aid includes federal and private scholarships and grants — about 16% of Harvard students currently receive Federal Pell Grants. The State of Massachusetts also offers scholarships, such as the Gilbert Grant program.

Step 3: Harvard assesses your need for additional scholarships.

After that, you may receive additional funding based on what Harvard considers your financial need. All Harvard scholarships and grants are based on need — not merit.

Keep in mind that it might neglect to take into account some unique financial situations, meaning it might actually cover less than your total attendance costs. But it could come close.

Harvard has a net price calculator on its website that prospective students can use to find out how much it’ll actually cost them to attend. You can read our article on college net price calculators for tips on how to use it.

Student loans to pay for Harvard

In addition to scholarships, Harvard also provides institutional student loans based on financial need. Like with the Direct Subsidized Loan program, interest starts adding up six months after graduating or dropping below half time. Here’s how they break down:

  • Fixed APR: 4%
  • Term: 10 years
  • Grace period: Six months after graduating or dropping below half time.
  • Minimum monthly repayment: $10.61 per $1,000 borrowed or $50 — whichever is higher.
  • Eligibility: Based on financial need — you don’t have to qualify for federal student aid.

Graduate and professional programs might have additional loan options. Don’t think this can cover you? You can also take out private student loans to cover the cost of attendance at this school.

Compare private student loan providers

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

As the most endowed university in America, Harvard is notorious for working to make sure all accepted students are able to cover the full cost of tuition. Its financial aid program works a little differently than other schools, but it’s one of the most comprehensive out there.

Find out how Harvard’s aid stacks up to other financing options by checking out our guide to student loans.

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