Harvard University Scholarships

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Harvard University scholarships are quite numerous. As a private Ivy League research university, Harvard has extremely high academic standards and a highly competitive admissions process.

The good news is that Harvard offers generous financial aid packages to ensure students of all backgrounds can afford to attend. In fact, over 50% of Harvard undergraduates receive some form of financial aid.

In this detailed guide, we will cover everything you need to know about Harvard scholarships and financial aid, including:

Key Takeaways:

  • Harvard meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, including low-income families.
  • Financial aid packages include grants, loans, and part-time work opportunities.
  • Scholarships are awarded based on academic excellence, extracurriculars, athletics, and other criteria.
  • The best Harvard scholarships are granted by the university itself. External scholarships are also available.
  • The key application is the CSS Profile to assess financial need. The FAFSA form is also required for federal aid.
  • Scholarship deadlines are early, so prepare your applications well in advance.

By following the steps in this guide, you can maximize your chances of qualifying for Harvard financial aid and scholarships. Let’s get started!

Harvard’s Financial Aid Policy

Harvard University is committed to making education affordable for all admitted students through its need-based financial aid program.

The university pledges to meet 100% of every student’s demonstrated financial need. This applies not just to low-income families but also middle-class families.

To determine financial need, Harvard reviews families’ income, assets, family size, and other information. They calculate the total “cost of attendance” including:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Books, supplies, and personal expenses
  • Travel expenses

They then assess your family’s ability to pay, known as the “expected family contribution” (EFC). Financial need is cost of attendance minus EFC.

For the 2022-2023 academic year, the EFC cutoff for qualifying for aid was around $78,000. Above that level, families may receive reduced aid or pay full price.

Harvard’s aid packages do not include academic or athletic scholarships. All aid is based on financial need. These packages aim to cover the gap between what families can reasonably afford and the cost to attend Harvard.

Types of Financial Aid from Harvard

Harvard’s financial aid packages include different types of assistance:

Grants and Scholarships

  • Direct grants from Harvard and federal Pell grants make up a significant portion of aid awards. These grants do not need to be repaid.
  • Harvard scholarships for international students may also be awarded based on financial need.

Student Loans

  • Student loans are available, both federal and private. Loans must be repaid over time with interest.
  • Harvard’s loan cap aims to reduce student debt burden. The current cap is $9,500 annually.


  • Work-study allows students to earn money through part-time jobs on campus or with approved employers.
  • Work-study earnings offset some costs and reduce loans.

By combining these different forms of aid, Harvard creates customized packages to make education affordable based on each admitted student’s financial circumstances.

Harvard Merit-Based Scholarships

Harvard University Scholarships

While most financial aid at Harvard is need-based, the university does offer some merit-based scholarships. These are awarded based on criteria like:

  • Academic excellence – top grades, test scores, academic achievements
  • Leadership – extracurricular activities, community service
  • Special talents – music, arts, languages, etc.
  • Athletic performance – recruited athletes may receive Ivy League scholarships

Some prominent Harvard merit scholarships include:

  • John Harvard Scholarship – half tuition for highly qualified candidates commitment to public service
  • Harvard Financial Aid Initiative – awarded to disadvantaged youth with exceptional achievements
  • Dean’s Scholarship – up to $10,000/year based on academic merit
  • Athletic awards – awarded by coaches to varsity athletes

These scholarships are limited and highly competitive. But they do not depend on financial need. By excelling in academics, extracurriculars, or athletics, you may qualify for Harvard merit aid.

External Harvard Scholarships

Along with Harvard’s own aid programs, many external organizations also offer Harvard scholarships and grants. These come from private foundations, corporations, professional associations, religious groups, and more.

External Harvard scholarships can help reduce your costs and student loans. They may consider criteria like:

  • Field of study
  • Ethnic or cultural background
  • Location
  • Community service
  • Career goals
  • and other factors

Some major examples include:

Search databases like FastWeb to find external scholarships you may qualify for. Local organizations in your community also offer scholarships to Harvard.

How Financial Aid Works at Harvard

Now that you know what types of financial assistance Harvard offers, let’s look at how the aid process works. Here are the key steps:

1. Apply for Admission

The first step is applying for admission to Harvard. Submit your application by the deadline, usually early January.

You do not have to apply separately for financial aid. Simply check the box indicating you plan to apply for aid on the admission application.

2. Fill Out FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required to receive federal grants, work-study, and loans.

Priority deadline is February 1st but you can submit later. Use Harvard’s school code 002158.

3. Submit CSS Profile

The College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile form collects more details on your family’s finances. It’s used to determine need and aid eligibility.

Submit by February 1st deadline. Add Harvard’s school code 3365.

4. Provide Tax Forms

You will need to send copies of your parents’ IRS tax returns and other documents to verify information.

These will be requested after you submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile.

5. Review Financial Aid Letter

In late March or early April, admitted students receive financial aid award letters detailing their Harvard scholarships, grants, loans, and work award if eligible.

Compare award letters if you applied to multiple colleges. Notify Harvard of your decision by May 1st.

6. Consider Appeal Option

If you feel your award package insufficiently covers need, you can appeal and request a reconsideration. Provide documentation on special circumstances.

7. Apply for Outside Scholarships

Look for external scholarship opportunities to help cover remaining costs. Manage deadlines and apply well before the academic year starts.

By following these steps, you can unlock the most generous financial aid package possible from Harvard!

Tips to Maximize Harvard Financial Aid

Here are some top tips for getting the most money from Harvard through scholarships, grants, work-study, and affordable student loans:

  • Highlight special circumstances – If your family has lost a job, suffered health issues, or faces other challenges, emphasize this in your appeal. Harvard may adjust your award.
  • Apply early – Meet all priority deadlines for the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and required documents. Errors can delay aid decisions.
  • Research external scholarships – Look beyond Harvard to reduce the amount you must finance yourself through work or debt.
  • Understand the numbers – Get clarity on the total cost of attendance and exactly how much aid Harvard is providing.
  • Be realistic about loans – While tempting, avoid taking the maximum student loans offered if possible. Limit debt burden.
  • Notify Harvard of other awards – If you win an outside scholarship, tell Harvard so they can adjust your aid package favorably.

Financial aid can make an Harvard education possible. With smart planning and preparation, use every opportunity to reduce costs and graduate with less debt.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Harvard Financial Aid

Many students and families have questions about qualifying for scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study at Harvard. Here are answers to some of the most common questions:

Does Harvard offer full ride scholarships?

Harvard promises to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. So in a sense, they do offer “full ride” financial aid to families unable to pay full tuition and costs. However, Harvard does not offer merit-based full tuition scholarships.

Do I need perfect grades to qualify for aid?

No, financial aid at Harvard is entirely need-based, not academic merit-based. You do not need perfect grades. But you do need to meet Harvard’s rigorous admissions standards.

Can international students get financial aid?

Yes, Harvard provides need-based scholarships and grants to eligible international students. Non-citizens are not eligible for federal student aid, however.

What income level qualifies for aid at Harvard?

While specific income cutoffs vary yearly, Harvard provides aid for families earning up to around $150,000 – $180,000 per year. Higher incomes may qualify for reduced aid.

Should I take out the maximum student loans offered?

Most experts recommend borrowing conservatively. While loans allow you to pay costs over time, they must be repaid with interest. Limit loans to only what is necessary.

How do I appeal for more financial aid?

The appeal process allows you to request a reconsideration of your aid package if you have special circumstances. Provide documentation and submit by deadline. Aid may be adjusted.

Can Harvard aid be renewed all four years?

Yes, if you continue to demonstrate financial need each year and meet academic and enrollment requirements, your financial aid can be renewed annually.

Applying for Harvard financial aid opens doors for students from all backgrounds to access an exceptional education. Follow these tips and steps to maximize your scholarships, grants, work opportunities, and affordable student loans. With proper planning, Harvard can become an affordable choice on your path to the future you want.

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