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A Guide to Financial Aid & Scholarships for Harvard Students

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

Could it be possible to graduate from college debt-free? Harvard University has recently taken a new direction with its financial aid policy. The goal is to help students graduate without the burden of major student loan debt. How? . . . by eliminating student loans from their financial aid program. Instead, the loans are replaced with need-based Harvard scholarships and grants.

To simplify matters, Harvard only offers need-based financial aid. That means no more athletic or academic scholarships, or other merit-based awards. By doing so, more Harvard students get financial assistance.

With the new policy in action, Harvard will no longer expect families whose annual income is $60,000 or less to contribute to paying for college expenses. And, for families whose annual income is below $180,000, Harvard has taken several steps to reduce the financial burden of paying for college.

Although a new policy is in place, it hasn’t changed the financial aid options for Harvard students. Aid options continue to include student employment, outside awards, scholarships and grants, and loans.

An In-Depth Look at the Financial Aid Process and Options for Harvard Students

Without financial assistance many college-bound students would not be attending college. That’s why Harvard strives to offer a variety of financial aid options for its students. To be considered, students are required to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The application information is key to determining a student’s financial need level.

All students should strive to seek employment while attending Harvard. The Student Employment Office helps students locate jobs on-campus and off-campus. Students who qualify for federal work-study programs typically work part-time on-campus.

Harvard students may use outside awards, like scholarships, prize money, and monetary awards, to help pay for college expenses. Students should notify the university whenever they receive outside awards. This information helps determine the amount of Harvard Scholarship to award.

If student employment opportunities and outside awards don’t meet the needs of a student financially, they may also qualify for scholarships and grants. These awards come from Harvard’s endowed funds, general tuition revenues, donations from alumni, and federal and state grants.

Some federal and state grants students may be eligible for include: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Award (FSEOG, Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), and the National SMART Grant.

The state offers the Massachusetts Gilbert Grant —applicants must be residents of Massachusetts. This is only a need-based grant and does not affect other aid already received. Award amount ranges from $200 – $2,500.

Harvard scholarships include:

Harvard National Scholarship—this scholarship was established in the early 1930s to draw the nation’s top students to attend Harvard University.

Faculty of Arts & Sciences Scholarship —this is an endowment fund with over $1,500 individual awards donated by generous alumni and donors.

Especially found at the graduate level are fellowships. These are unique educational opportunities for Harvard students to do something important. Some examples of fellowships include:

Booth Fund Fellowships—-offered to help pay for the cost of tuition, and travel expenses for travel to country/countries during the summer months or during the following academic year. Juniors or seniors are eligible.

Killam Fellowships —offered to exceptional undergraduate students interested in becoming an exchange student for one semester or for a full year. Cash value of fellowship is $5,000 a semester.

Loans for Harvard Students

Although student loans are no longer offered through Harvard’s financial aid program, students may opt to seek loans on their own, if needed. Federal loans are a great place to start. To be considered for federal loans, students are required to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Some federal loans to consider include:
Federal Direct Subsidized Student Loan—this loan offers a 5.6% fixed interest rate.
Federal Perkins Loan—this loan offers a 5% fixed interest rate. No interest is accrued while attending school.
Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loan—this loan offers a 6.8% fixed interest rate. Interest begins accruing after first disbursement.
Harvard Loan Program—this loan offers a 5% fixed interest rate, and no fees.
Federal Direct PLUS Loan—this loan offers a 7.9% fixed interest rate. Interest begins accruing after first disbursement.

Harvard students can also seek private lenders for loan opportunities. However, federal loans typically offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment plans.

Tips to Remember about Harvard Financial Aid

  • Financial Aid at Harvard is need-based. This provides many financial aid options for all students. Take the time to learn about the new financial aid program and how it can benefit you.
  • Be sure to complete a FAFSA to be considered for any federal and state aid. Be prepared and have all pertinent materials in front of you when filling out the form online.
  • Even though Harvard does not offer student loans, students can still seek them on their own. If a loan is needed, look into federal loans first, then private lenders. Federal loans typically offer lower interest rates.

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