Completing Your Application for Aid
The process of applying for financial aid from Harvard is essentially the same for all students, but please read through these instructions and refer to your my.harvard account to see which specific materials we need from your family. Though the process is largely the same as in previous years, the federal government and Harvard have shifted to using a previous year’s tax information to calculate our awards, which means you will need to submit your 2015 information for the 2017-2018 year. You can read more about these changes here. The components of the application are:
- The online CSS Profile.
- The IDOC Packet, which can be submitted online.
- The online Financial Aid Activity and Demographic Supplement form, which is completed by the student.
- US Citizens and Permanent Residents will also need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a free form and if you only wish to apply for federal aid it is the only form you need to submit.
If you applied for financial aid in the previous year, you will automatically be emailed instructions to apply for renewal in February. If you have not applied for aid in the past but would like to do so now, please call or email to let us know. If you have been an aid applicant in the past and are currently on a leave of absence, please call or email to let us know of your intention to return.
The Deadline is May 1
If you complete you application by the deadline, you will receive your award letter through my.harvard by July 1. If your application is incomplete at the deadline, we will notify you by your college email account. Once your aid application is complete, the financial aid decision will be released to my.harvard on a rolling basis during the summer. The awarding process takes time. We urge you to meet our deadlines in order to have aid in place for the fall term.
Tracking Application Status
It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of deadlines and submit the application on time. You can always check the status of your application and missing materials at my.harvard.edu. Please allow up to five business days for materials to be tracked in and show up on your my.harvard page.
File the online 2017-2018 CSS Profile via the College Board. Make sure to include Harvard as a recipient using the code 3434. If your parents are together, they will file one CSS Profile. If they are separated or divorced, you will receive instructions from the College Board after you have filed the CSS Profile for your first parent letting you know how your second parent can fill out the Noncustodial Profile. Please refer to your my.harvard page to see what information we need from your noncustodial parent.
If you are an international student who is unable to complete the CSS Profile due to unreliable access in your home country, or if you live in a country from which the College Board cannot process payments, you may submit a paper application found here.
We require submission of tax and other documents through the College Board IDOC Service. Although you are allowed to mail physical material to IDOC, we recommend the use of the IDOC upload portal instead, as a fast and secure way to submit your information for review. Once you file your CSS Profile you will receive communication from the College Board that will guide you through the process. Do not submit supporting documents to our office unless you are specifically instructed to do so. All materials need to be sent through IDOC.
Gather together all of the following that apply, and submit them to IDOC. Please do not send draft or estimated taxes. We need the actual 2015 tax return as filed with the government. If your documents are not in English, please be sure to translate them.
- Parents’ 2015 income tax document for both parents: for US students, this is usually the 1040 Federal Income Tax Return with all pages and schedules, including W-2 Forms. For many international students, this will be whatever documentation of income your parents submit to their national government. If your parents do not file tax returns, please submit a Tax Non-Filer Statement, and whatever documentation they do have, such as a wage statement, salary certificate, or letter from their employer(s) stating annual income.
- Student’s 2015 income tax document: if you do not file a tax document, please submit a Tax Non-Filer Statement, and a copy of any W-2 Forms, if you received any.
- Business documents: if either of your parents has an interest in a business or farm, submit:
- The business tax return for each business and/or farm. In the US, this refers to the full 1065 Partnership Return, 1120 S Corporate Return, and 1120 Corporate Return, along with K-1 Statements.
- Additional information: if you have any unusual expenses or special circumstances to share, feel free to submit a letter with the rest of your documents.
The student will complete the Financial Aid Activity and Demographic Supplement online. This is a short and easy form to complete.
The FAFSA is a free form that determines your eligibility for federal aid. Only students who are US Citizens, Permanent Residents, or other eligible non-citizens will file the FAFSA.
If you do not intend to apply for grant aid from the College, but would like us to determine your eligibility for federal funds only (such as Pell Grants, FWSP, or federal loans), you need only to file the FAFSA. Please notify us of your decision to change to federal aid only by May 1.
The Griffin Financial Aid Office is here to answer your questions. We are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call us at 617-495-1581 with any questions or concerns.
When Should I Start?
Don’t leave your application to the last minute. We recommend starting the application no later than the first week of April.
Tips for US Students
Use the FAFSA IDR tool, which will fill out most of the FAFSA for you. Always double-check your SSN on all of your submissions.
Tips for International Students
If you don’t have an SSN, you should use your HUID on all forms. If you or your parents file a tax document in your country you will submit this as part of the process. Please submit the full tax submission - not the notice of assessment. If they do not file a tax document, please submit whatever documentation of income they do have, such as a wage statement or letter from their employer(s). If your documents are not in English, be sure to translate them.
Where Can I Track My Application Status?
What if I Make a Mistake on the CSS Profile?
We’ll update the CSS Profile with your tax information when it gets to IDOC. If you need to make other corrections that won’t naturally be updated by your taxes (such as a substantial change in assets or family size), submit a letter in your IDOC Packet.
Do I need to submit every page of the tax return?
You should include all pages and schedules of your federal or national income tax return. A common mistake is for US students to send only the first two pages of the tax return, leaving out the schedules (for example, Schedule A, Schedule B, etc). You do not need to send copies of state tax returns.
Is IDOC's List of Required Documents Definitive?
No. IDOC will show only the most common and basic required documents. You should use our list of required documents from this instructions page and from your my.harvard account as your list of required documents. Submit to IDOC anything else as an ‘institution specific required document’ or ‘other document.’
The easiest mistake to make is to leave out pages of the tax return or to forget to include W-2 Forms. When in doubt, leave it in!
Should I Also Mail You My Documents?
No. The way to submit your documents is via IDOC. Documents mailed to our office will not complete your application, unless we have specifically asked you to use mail instead of IDOC.
Do I Have to Submit My 2015 Tax Information Again?
Yes. While you are using the same taxes, it is for a new application cycle and a new academic year and we no longer have access to last year’s data. You will still need to submit copies of your actual 2015 tax returns and W-2 forms to IDOC.
What if My 2015 Income is No Longer Representative of My Financial Situation?
You should still complete your application as instructed. As always, if there are special circumstances of which you would like us to be aware, please include a detailed letter with the materials you submit to IDOC so that your circumstances can be reviewed along with the rest of your required application materials. If your special circumstances relate to a declining income, you’re also welcome to submit your 2016 tax returns to IDOC if you wish.