Completing Your Application for Aid
The process to apply for financial aid from Harvard is essentially the same for all students. Here’s an overview, with details below.
- Regardless of your citizenship or when you are applying, you will need to submit a CSS Profile and an IDOC Packet.
- 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.
- Early Action applicants may need to submit a Supplementary Early Documents Packet directly to our office since IDOC will not yet have opened.
Our goal is to provide you with a decision about financial aid at the time that you are admitted. For Early Action applicants that means an estimate of financial aid in mid-December, and for both Early and Regular Action applications, a financial aid decision around April 1. Although we’ll accept a late application, we may not be able to get back to you as quickly as we would if your application was submitted along the timeline below.
|Early Action Deadline||Regular Action Deadline|
|CSS Profile||November 1||February 1|
|Supplementary Early Documents Packet||November 1 (only if applicable)||Not Applicable|
|FAFSA||March 1||March 1|
|IDOC Packet||March 1||March 1|
File the online 2016-2017 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.
The CSS Profile asks questions about your family’s financial situation including numbers you will find on your family’s tax returns. If you have not yet filed your tax returns, feel free to estimate. We’ll update the CSS Profile after you’ve submitted your actual tax returns.
The CSS Profile has a built in fee waiver for US students, based on their financial circumstances. If you are an international student who cannot afford the CSS Profile fee, or if you live in a country from which the College Board cannot process payments, email us for an alternate set of instructions.
In some situations, the information on the CSS Profile isn’t enough for us to provide an estimate of financial aid. If you are in the following situations, please print a supplementary materials cover sheet and send one packet to our office by mail or fax (no email). If your documents are not in English, please be sure to translate them.
If either of your parents have interest in, or income or losses from self-employment, a business, farm, partnership, corporation, or rental real estate, or an interest in an estate or trust, send:
- Your parents’ full 2014 income tax document(s), with all pages and schedules (in the US, this is the 1040 form).
- The full 2014 business, farm, or trust tax return for each business, if one exists (in the US, this is the full 1065 Partnership Return, 1120 S Corporate Return, 1120 Corporate Return, or 1041 Trust Trax Return, along with K-1 Statements).
- A Business/Farm Supplement Form, available from our Forms and Resources section, for each business and/or farm.
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.
File the online 2016-2017 FAFSA after January 1. Since you may not have filed taxes yet, it is ok to estimate on the FAFSA. Remember to include Harvard’s code E00468 so that we receive the FAFSA. Our Completing the FAFSA page has tips to help you apply.
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. The IDOC Service opens in early February to all applicants who have already completed a CSS Profile. IDOC will send you an email with instructions when they open (as long as you have completed the CSS Profile).
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 you won’t be able to file your taxes by March 1, please do not submit previous year tax returns. 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:
- A Business/Farm Supplement Form for each business and/or farm.
- 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.
- Trust or estate documents: if you or your parents are the beneficiary of an estate or trust, submit:
- The full Trust Tax Return.
- A letter explaining the contents of the trust or estate, value, and accessibility.
- 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 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.
Make it easy on yourself!
Keep a file with prior and current year wage statements, paystubs, and tax documents. File your taxes as early as you can. US Citizens, be sure to doublecheck your SSN on all submissions. Always use your full, legal name. No nicknames in financial aid!
International Student Tips
International students are eligible for the same amount of aid as US students. If your parents file an income tax document in their country, you will submit that as part of the financial aid process. Make sure to translate the document to English. You don’t need an official translation - usually students will write the translation on the document themselves. If your parents don’t file an income tax document, submit a wage statement, payslip, or letter from their employer(s) stating their annual income.
Aid is available to transfer students in the same way as all students. Please follow the instructions for applying Regular Action.
Where can I track my application status?
We don’t track financial aid materials until after admissions decisions have been made. In the meantime, you can log in to your College Board account to see your submissions. Rest assured that if you are admitted and we find something is missing, we’ll notify you.
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.
Can I email my documents?
No. Email is not a secure method for sending financial aid information. Please submit everything as described in our instructions.
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.
What if I'm applying to more than 10 schools?
The FAFSA will only let you have 10 schools listed at one time. If you are applying to more than 10 schools, you may want to call around to see if they have already received your FAFSA and you can remove their FAFSA code. Since we at Harvard don’t download FAFSAs until students are admitted, it’s not a good idea to remove Harvard’s FAFSA code.
Canadian Student Tips
The Canadian tax document you must submit is called the T-1 General Form. The corporate return is called the T-2 Corporate Return. Canadian tax returns are often not available until after our deadline. Just send them in when they’re available - there’s no penalty.
Late Tax Filing
If your parents won’t be able to file taxes by March 1, sit tight and submit them whenever they become available. Obviously, it’s better to file early, but a late application just pushes back when you get your financial aid decision - it does not affect your eligibility for aid.
Is IDOC's list of required documents definitive?
No. IDOC will show only the most common, basic, required documents. You should use our list of required documents from this instructions page as your list of required documents. Submit to IDOC anything else as an ‘institution specific required document’ or ‘other document’.
Can I use IDOC's tax non-filer statement instead of Harvard's?
Feel free to use either Tax Non-Filer Statement, whether from our website, or the IDOC website. Both are acceptable.