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Prospective Students

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.


​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. Please note that you cannot access IDOC until you have completed the CSS Profile.

  Early Action Deadline Regular Action Deadline Transfer Deadline
CSS Profile November 1 February 1 March 1
FAFSA November 1 February 1 March 1
IDOC Packet November 1 February 1 March 1

CSS Profile

File the online 2019-2020 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, each parent will fill out their own CSS 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, you may follow this alternate set of instructions.


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 2019-2020 FAFSA, which is available online or as a mobile app, starting October 1. Remember to include Harvard’s code E00468 so that we receive the FAFSA. Our Completing the FAFSA page has tips to help you apply.

IDOC Packet

We require submission of tax and other documents through the College Board IDOC Service, which is a fast and secure way to upload your information for review. The IDOC Service opens in late October/early November to all applicants who have already completed a CSS Profile.

IDOC will show a list of basic documents to be uploaded, but their list is not the definitive list of what you need to submit. Additional required documents are listed below. 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 2017 tax return as filed with the government. If your documents are not in English, please be sure to translate them. 

  • Parents’ 2017 income tax document for both parents: for US students, this is usually the signed 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 2017 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. Students who submit tax returns should be sure that they are signed.
  • 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 2017 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.

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.

What if I'm applying to more than 10 schools?

The FAFSA will only let you have 10 schools listed at one time. You’re welcome to take Harvard off your list if you need more space – if it turns out the FAFSA did not come through, we’ll let you know to add us back on if you are admitted.

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.

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 file for an extension or won’t be able to file taxes by the application deadline, 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.