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Frequently Asked Questions

Applying to Harvard

Application Fee
  • Paying the application fee is a hardship for my family. Can I get a waiver?

    There are a few ways you may go about requesting that your fee be waived. First, you may submit a fee waiver from the College Board or NACAC. If you are unable to obtain these forms, you may have your guidance counselor or school official send us a letter requesting a fee waiver based on financial hardship. You may also write this letter yourself, and have it signed by a school official. Fee waiver requests may be faxed to 617-496-3229, or mailed to our office.

  • How do I pay my application fee?

    The $75 application processing fee can be paid online through the online application system (either the Common Application or the Universal College Application). Please note that the Common Application and Universal Application websites are operated independently, and their respective offices are better able to assist you with specific logistical issues you may encounter while submitting the application forms or your fee through their sites. You may also send a check drawn on a US bank in US dollars to:
    Harvard College Admissions
    86 Brattle Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138

    Please be sure to write the name and date of birth of the applicant on the fee.

  • Is it possible to get a receipt for my application fee?

    If you paid the fee online, your e-mail confirmation is your receipt. If you paid by check, your cancelled check (or image sent by your bank) is your receipt. We do not send any other acknowledgment of payment. If payment is missing, we will contact you. Important note: Payments are tracked only by Harvard’s database. Please disregard any notification of payment status posted on the Common Application or Universal College Application website.

  • Can transfer students receive an application fee waiver?

    Our office accepts fee waiver requests from transfer applicants. You must submit a letter from a college official from your current institution who can verify your financial need and supports your fee waiver request. We do not need specific financial information, just a third party verification. Typically, this request is submitted by the financial aid office, academic advisor, office of the dean of students, or another official at your current institution who is familiar with your financial need.

Criteria
  • If my curriculum requires more than the 12-year U.S. curriculum, may I apply after my twelfth year?

    We strongly recommend you to complete whichever curriculum you have been following. Applicants who have completed only a year of GCE A-levels or International Baccalaureate study, for instance, are at a tremendous disadvantage in our applicant pool.

  • Can I fulfill academic requirements with previous coursework?

    You cannot receive credit for coursework completed before matriculation, but Harvard offers an Advanced Standing Program to entering students who meet certain standards on the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) examinations or who have earned the full International Baccalaureate Diploma with a grade of 7 on at least three Higher Level examinations. Admitted students with strong results on internationally recognized examinations, such as the GCE A-levels, Abitur, or French Baccalaureate, may submit their credentials to the Advanced Standing adviser for individual evaluation upon matriculation. Visit the Advising Programs Office website for more information about Advanced Standing.

  • How important are extracurricular activities in admissions decisions?

    Each case is different. Some students distinguish themselves for admission with their unusual academic promise through experience or achievements in study or research. Other students present compelling cases because they are more “well-rounded,” having contributed in many different ways to their schools or communities. Still other successful applicants are “well-lopsided” with demonstrated excellence in one particular endeavor. Some students bring perspectives formed by unusual personal circumstances or experiences. Like many colleges, we seek to admit dynamic, talented, and diverse students who will contribute significantly to the education of their classmates.

  • Are there secondary school course requirements for admission?

    There is no single academic path we expect all students to follow, but the strongest applicants take the most rigorous secondary school curricula available to them. An ideal four-year preparatory program includes four years of English, with extensive practice in writing; four years of math; four years of science: biology, chemistry, physics, and an advanced course in one of these subjects; three years of history, including American and European history; and four years of one foreign language.

  • Will it help me to take advanced, accelerated or honors courses?

    Yes. Although schools provide different opportunities, students should pursue the most demanding college-preparatory program available, consistent with each student’s readiness for particular fields of study. Counselors can offer helpful advice as students choose their courses.

  • Do I need certain grades or marks to be considered for admission?

    We recognize that schools vary by size, academic program, and grading policies, so we do not have rigid grade requirements. There is no single academic path we expect all students to follow, but the strongest applicants take the most rigorous secondary school curricula available to them. We do seek students who achieve at a high level, and most admitted students rank in the top 10-15% of their graduating classes.

  • Are my chances of admission enhanced if a relative has attended Harvard?

    The application process is the same for all candidates. Among a group of similarly distinguished applicants, the daughters and sons of Harvard College alumni/ae may receive an additional look.

Early Action
Testing
  • If I sit for GCE A-levels or other international credentials, must I submit SAT or ACT scores?

    Yes. We realize students educated abroad may be unfamiliar with these examination formats or may have followed a different syllabus, but all applicants must submit the results of the SAT or ACT (with writing) and two SAT Subject Tests.

  • Which standardized tests does Harvard require?

    We require all applicants to complete the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT Test with Writing and we normally require two SAT Subject Tests. If you choose to submit Subject Tests, it is more useful to choose only one mathematics test rather than two. Similarly, if your first language is not English, a Subject Test in your first language may be less helpful.

    For information about the SATs, consult www.collegeboard.org; for the ACT www.act.org. We value predicted A-level and IB results along with any information that helps us form a complete picture of your academic interests and strengths. However, results from these examinations cannot substitute for our required admissions testing.

  • Do I need a minimum required SAT, ACT or Subject Test score?

    We do not have minimum scores or cut-offs; however, the majority of students admitted represent a range of scores from roughly 600 to 800 on each section of the SAT as well as on the SAT Subject Tests. The 25th percentile for admitted students on the SAT is about 2100; the 75th percentile is about 2350. We regard test results as helpful indicators of academic ability and achievement when considered thoughtfully among many other factors.

  • If I take the required tests more than once, which results does Harvard consider?

    We consider your best test scores, but it is generally our experience that taking tests more than twice offers diminishing returns.

  • What if I cannot take the SAT or ACT in my country?

    These standardized tests are now given in almost all countries. We realize you may have to travel some distance or plan for testing long in advance, but these test results are required tools in our analysis of applications. In our competitive applicant pool, students lacking these test results are usually denied admission. Foreign students in one of the very few countries where the SAT is not available (for example, China) may submit alternative testing such as the Graduate Record Examination. For more information about the GRE, consult www.gre.org. Students in such countries should also take the TOEFL.

  • Does Harvard accept the redesigned SAT?

    Harvard accepts both the current SAT and the redesigned SAT and will accept both tests for the foreseeable future. You should submit scores from tests taken in the past three years.

Process
  • Are there quotas for international applicants?

    There are no quotas or limits of any kind at any point in the admissions process. All students are considered in the same pool for all places in the incoming class, regardless of citizenship or the secondary school they attend. A student’s chances for admission and financial aid are not affected by citizenship or by the location of the school that the student attends.

  • What should students know about visas?

    Admitted international students will be provided with information about applying for a student visa.

  • Does Harvard offer admission application fee waivers to international students?

    Yes! If paying the application fee would cause a hardship for your family, please request a fee waiver. You or your guidance counselor may write a short letter asking us to waive your fee. Receiving a fee waiver has no effect on admissions chances. Please use the following e-mail address: intlfeewaiver@fas.harvard.edu to submit your application fee waiver request.

  • I have a bachelor's degree. May I apply to Harvard College?

    No student with a bachelor’s degree or other first university degree from any other university, whether American or foreign, is eligible for admission to Harvard College. Students interested in continuing their studies beyond the bachelor’s degree might wish to consider one of the 10 Harvard University graduate schools. The Harvard College Admissions Office is independent of these schools and their admissions policies.

  • What admissions criteria do you use?

    There is no formula for gaining admission to Harvard. Academic accomplishment in high school is important, but the Admissions Committee also considers many other criteria, such as community involvement, leadership and distinction in extracurricular activities, and personal qualities and character. We rely on teachers, counselors, and alumni to share information with us about an applicant’s strength of character, his or her ability to overcome adversity, and other personal qualities.

  • How familiar is the Admissions Committee with secondary schools? Their rigor? What marks mean in a particular school or educational system?

    We have worked hard for many years to learn about schools around the world. Our careful study of different schools, curricula and educational systems is augmented by information we receive directly from schools, extensive personal communication with school personnel, and the interview reports we receive from our alumni, who meet thousands of applicants to Harvard each year. We can always learn more, so we welcome information students think might be helpful to the Admissions Committee in understanding their accomplishments in their school communities.

  • Does Harvard rank secondary schools in the U.S. and abroad?

    No. While we understand there are differences in the overall strengths of secondary schools, we are most interested in how well applicants have taken advantage of available resources. In the end, we admit the student not the secondary school they attend.

  • What if English is not my first language?

    A strong knowledge of English is essential for successful study at Harvard, including the ability to understand and express thoughts quickly and clearly. We require the results of the SAT or ACT (with writing) and two SAT Subject Tests for all candidates. The SAT English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) is not acceptable. Students are not required to submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) unless the SAT exams are not available in their current location. Candidates whose native language is not English should not take the SAT Subject Test in their native language to fulfill one of their two required tests.

  • Who should write my recommendations?

    Teachers who know you well and who have taught you in academic subjects (preferably in the final two years of secondary school) typically will provide us with the most valuable testimony. Whenever possible, teachers should tell us about your non-academic interests and personal qualities as well as academic potential.

  • Is there an interview?

    When possible, we try to arrange for you to meet with alumni/ae in or near your school communities. You will not be at a disadvantage if an interview cannot be arranged. In the U.S., Canada and the U.K., an alumnus/a will contact an applicant directly by phone, e-mail, or letter if such an interview is possible. If you live outside these areas, we aim to hold an admission interview when and where possible. Our interviewers abroad are graduates of Harvard who offer their assistance on a volunteer basis. While we try to make interviewers as widely available as possible, it will not always be possible for a student to have an interview. The absence of an interview will not adversely affect your candidacy. See more about international interviews.

  • Who reads applications?

    Applications are read by members of the forty-person Admissions Committee, and are considered very carefully in a series of committee
    meetings where a majority vote is required for admission. The entire process requires several months.

  • Is there a wait list?

    Yes. Our wait list includes the applicants whom the Committee might still wish to consider for admission if spots in the entering class open later. The wait list is not ranked. In some years, we have admitted no one from the wait list; in others, we have admitted more than 200 candidates.

  • Does Harvard admit students to enter in the spring semester?

    No. All students begin study in September to benefit from special programs designed for freshmen.

  • Are there quotas for certain kinds of applicants?

    The Admissions Committee does not use quotas of any kind.

  • Is there a separate admissions process for prospective athletes?

    No. We encourage students with athletic talent to contact our Athletic Department for information about any of Harvard’s 42 varsity athletic teams.

  • Are my chances of admission enhanced by submitting application materials before other applicants?

    No. We request, however, that Early Action applicants submit the Common Application or the Universal College Application and the Application Supplements by October 15 and Regular Decision applicants by December 15. The deadlines are November 1 and January 1 respectively. Receipt of these two forms allows us to expedite application processing and to arrange personal interviews more quickly.

  • May I defer my admission once admitted?

    Yes. We want to do everything possible to help the students we enroll make the most of their opportunities, avoiding the much reported “burnout” phenomenon that can keep them from reaching their full potential. Our overall graduation rate of 98%, among the highest in the nation, is perhaps due in part to the fact that so many students take time off, before or during college. The Admissions Committee encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way—provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Deferrals for two-year military service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College, and they report their experiences to be uniformly positive. After graduation, large numbers of Harvard students take time off before beginning work or graduate school. See more about taking time off.

  • May I apply to Harvard if I am admitted under a binding Early Decision program at another college?

    No. If you are admitted under an Early Decision program at another college, you must withdraw any pending application to Harvard and you are not eligible for admission.

  • I applied as a freshman or transfer applicant previously. Do I need to submit my standardized test scores again as a transfer applicant?

    Yes. Standardized test scores are only retained in our system for the year of application; therefore the scores will need to be reported directly from the testing agency again for your new application.

  • Does Harvard consider legal immigration status in the admissions process?

    All students are considered in the same pool for admission to the incoming class regardless of citizenship status. While being undocumented may present challenges for students wishing to travel or work on campus, immigration status is not considered by the admissions committee.

Questions about Harvard

Faculty
  • Is it possible to get to know my professors?

    Yes. In addition to weekly office hours, students often spend time with their professors before and after class. There are also many occasions when professors take meals in Harvard’s 12 residential dining halls; attend gatherings in the residences of House Masters, who are themselves Harvard faculty members; and participate in other programs and special events.

  • How large are classes?

    Some introductory courses as well as several other popular courses have large enrollments. Yet, the median class size at Harvard is 12. Of the nearly 1,300 courses offered last fall, for example, more than 1,000 of them enrolled 20 or fewer students.

Campus LIfe
  • What security measures are in place at Harvard?

    Harvard has a comprehensive public safety program that includes a full campus police force, a walking escort service, a campus-wide shuttle service, emergency phones, lighted pathways and a computer-card key system operating in all residential buildings. Read Harvard’s “Playing It Safe” handbook at the Harvard University Police Department website.

  • Is on-campus housing guaranteed?

    Harvard guarantees housing for all four years. Freshmen live in one of the 17 dormitories in or adjacent to historic Harvard Yard. Self-selected groups of students are assigned to one of 12 residential Houses for the final three years of undergraduate study. About 350 to 500 students live in a House, each of which includes its own dining hall, library, advising staff, and many other resources. Read more about residential life.

  • Must I live on campus?

    You must live in Harvard housing your first year at the College. A very small percentage of students choose to live off-campus as upperclassmen. Most students and alumni consider the House system one of the hallmarks of their Harvard experiences. Considering the diversity of student backgrounds, interests and talents, Harvard’s residential program enhances the degree to which students learn from one another.

  • What will my room look like?

    Most freshman dorms have suites for three to six students. Suites contain from two to four bedrooms and a common room. A few have their own baths, though most share a bathroom with other suites. The Freshman Dean’s Office assigns students to suites rather than to particular bedrooms, and in almost any suite students should expect to share a bedroom for at least part of the first year. Some dorms contain doubles, usually one fairly large room with a shared bath.

  • Where will I take my meals?

    Freshmen students all eat together in Annenberg Hall. During sophomore through senior year, students typically eat in the dining hall located within their Houses, although students can choose to eat at other House dining halls as well. See more about dining.

  • What extracurricular opportunities are available?

    There are more than 400 student-run organizations at Harvard, among them dozens of publications, five orchestras, an extensive community service program, more than 40 intercollegiate athletic teams, and a broad assortment of other activities—artistic, musical, political, and social. We encourage and support extracurricular opportunities as these provide important settings for personal growth and friendships. Visit the Office of Student Life website for more information about extracurriculars.

Courses
  • Can I fulfill academic requirements with previous coursework?

    You cannot receive credit for coursework completed before matriculation, but Harvard offers an Advanced Standing Program to entering students who meet certain standards on the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) examinations or who have earned the full International Baccalaureate Diploma with a grade of 7 on at least three Higher Level examinations. Admitted students with strong results on internationally recognized examinations, such as the GCE A-levels, Abitur, or French Baccalaureate, may submit their credentials to the Advanced Standing adviser for individual evaluation upon matriculation. Visit the Advising Programs Office website for more information about Advanced Standing.

  • Can I concentrate in business, journalism, law or medicine?

    While you can take courses related to these fields, Harvard’s academic programs are not pre-professional, in that they do not provide vocational training. Many Harvard graduates plan to continue their education in professional or graduate schools, often in these fields. Please note that both medicine and law are postgraduate programs in the United States. If you are not a U.S. citizen but wish to continue your education in a professional program, particularly in an American medical school, we advise you to consult specific graduate and professional programs in advance to understand those schools’ admissions and financial aid policies concerning international students.

  • What should I know about Harvard's science and engineering programs?

    Science and engineering have long been priorities at Harvard. There are more than two dozen state-of-the-art facilities for science research at Harvard, and new computer science and chemistry laboratories opened in 2008. Moreover, forty-one of our former and current science faculty members have won Nobel Prizes. About half of recent entering students intend to major in the natural sciences, engineering, computer science or mathematics. Read more about engineering and applied science at www.seas.harvard.edu.

  • How easy is it to change my concentration?

    About a third of undergraduates change fields after declaring their concentrations, which students do midway through their sophomore year. You would simply change concentrations in consultation with your departmental advisers. Learn more about the breadth of Harvard’s academic programs.

  • Are there required freshman classes?

    Harvard requires all freshmen to take Expository Writing, a one-semester course. Otherwise, you may enroll in any Harvard College courses in which you are interested and for which you are prepared.

  • Must I register for courses before they begin?

    No. You will enjoy a week-long “shopping” period at the start of each semester during which you visit classes and compare curricular choices before registering for classes.

  • How many courses does Harvard offer?

    Nearly 3,500. For a complete copy of the course catalog, consult www.registrar.fas.harvard.edu.

  • Are there exchange programs with other Greater Boston colleges?

    You may cross-register in courses offered at MIT, which is a 10-minute trip from Harvard Yard. You may also enroll in graduate-level courses at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as well as at many of Harvard’s professional schools.

General
  • What is the difference between Harvard College and Harvard University?

    Harvard College is the “original” Harvard, founded in 1636 as the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Harvard College offers a four-year undergraduate, liberal arts program for students seeking their first degree. There are about 6,500 undergraduates at the College, with nearly equal numbers of men and women. In addition to Harvard College, Harvard University includes 10 graduate and professional schools, all of which offer programs for students who already hold their first degrees and seek advanced training in their fields through master’s or doctoral programs. All 10 graduate and professional schools maintain their own admissions offices and teaching faculties, and they are run independently of Harvard College. For information about Harvard’s graduate programs, please contact these schools’ admissions offices directly.

  • What is a "liberal arts" education?

    In our liberal arts program, students are broadly educated in the social sciences, the natural sciences and the humanities, as well as trained in a particular academic field of specialization called a concentration. Students take one course in each of the eight areas of the General Education Program, which is designed to broaden each student’s intellectual perspective, while selecting a field of concentration from more than forty academic departments. Students will usually take about half of their courses in their concentration, one-quarter in the General Education Program, and one-quarter student-chosen electives. The only specific course that is required for all students is a one-semester writing course, although each department has certain courses that a student must take to earn a degree in that field. Programs are, therefore, quite individualized for each student. Whatever a student’s curricular choices, every undergraduate learns to read, write, and think critically — skills important to any endeavor. For detailed information, consult the course catalog at www.registrar.fas.harvard.edu.

  • What campus security measures are in place at Harvard?

    The University sponsors a comprehensive public safety program that includes a full campus police force, a walking escort service, a campus-wide shuttle service, emergency phones, lighted pathways and a computer-card key system operating in all freshman and most other residences. Read Harvard’s “Playing It Safe” handbook at the Harvard University Police Department website.

  • What is Harvard's graduation rate?

    The College’s graduation rate is normally 98 percent, among the highest at American colleges and universities. Everyone admitted to Harvard has the ability to complete all academic requirements successfully.

Life After Harvard
Resources
  • What advising and support services are available?

    Woven into Harvard’s freshman and upperclassman residences are a variety of academic and other advising resources that make the residential experience at Harvard distinctive. First-year students benefit from the guidance that resident proctors provide about living in Cambridge and studying at the College. Each House also has its own staff of advisers called resident tutors who are similar to first-year proctors but with expertise in particular academic and professional fields. Harvard offers extensive advising resources of other kinds. If you need extra help in coursework, you can turn to the Bureau of Study Counsel. The Office of Career Services offers career counseling. The University maintains its own outstanding health services. The Undergraduate Financial Aid Office will help you with financial aid issues, and the Student Employment Office will help place you in jobs on and off campus. Finally, if you are an international student, the International Office is there for your special needs.

  • Does Harvard provide services if I have a disability?

    Yes. The Accessible Education Office (AEO) assists students with any impairment limiting their ability to walk, see, hear, speak, learn, or write. Based on each student’s successful strategies, the Center collaborates with faculty and staff to ensure individualized accommodation. Accessible housing and transportation are also available. Read more about the AEO.

  • Are there research opportunities for undergraduates?

    Yes - available to students as early as their freshman year. You may find research projects through individual inquiries with departments and professors, through the Harvard Undergraduate Research Program, or through the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship Program. The Faculty Aide Program links professors to undergraduates interested in becoming research assistants. Read more about these programs on the Student Employment Office website.

  • What sort of study abroad programs are available?

    Harvard students study abroad in classroom, laboratory, and field-based immersion programs throughout the world. In addition to greatly expanded study abroad opportunities, other international experiences such as public service internships and employment are offered. Generous funding is available for all students both during the school year and the summer. For more information about study abroad, visit the Office of International Programs website.

  • Does Harvard provide specific resources for undocumented students?

    Harvard supports all of its students. Assistant Dean of Student Life Emelyn dela Peña can help direct undocumented students to advisers and counselors in the Bureau of Study Counsel, Office of Career Services, Harvard International Office, Student Employment Office, and University Health Services who can assist them. For legal questions, students may wish to consult an outside immigration attorney. Assistance is also available through Act on a Dream, a student organization that serves as a resource center for undocumented undergraduates at the College.

Transfer Admissions

Criteria
  • How do I know if I am competitive/ How hard is it to get in as a transfer student?

    The Harvard College Transfer Admissions Committee evaluates applications holistically; therefore there is not a required minimum grade point average (GPA) or test score to apply. However, the transfer admissions pool is extremely competitive, with very few spaces, usually fewer than twenty each year and application pools averaging approximately fifteen hundred. Most successful applicants achieve verbal and math SAT I scores of 600 or above and, for foreign applicants who submit a TOEFL result, a score of 600 or above on the paper test, or 250 or above on the computer test, or 100 or better on the iBT version. For those using the ACT as an alternative, the composite score is usually 28 or above.

Financial Aid
Campus Life
  • Is there housing for transfer students on campus?

    Yes. All transfer students who are admitted are eligible for on-campus housing. Students are not required to live on campus, though nearly all undergraduate students live on campus and House life is an integral part of the Harvard College community and student experience.

Process
Testing

Submitted Application

Your Submitted Application

International Students

Criteria
Process
  • Are there quotas for international applicants?

    There are no quotas or limits of any kind at any point in the admissions process. All students are considered in the same pool for all places in the incoming class, regardless of citizenship or the secondary school they attend. A student’s chances for admission and financial aid are not affected by citizenship or by the location of the school that the student attends.

  • What should students know about visas?

    Admitted international students will be provided with information about applying for a student visa.

  • Does Harvard offer admission application fee waivers to international students?

    Yes! If paying the application fee would cause a hardship for your family, please request a fee waiver. You or your guidance counselor may write a short letter asking us to waive your fee. Receiving a fee waiver has no effect on admissions chances. Please use the following e-mail address: intlfeewaiver@fas.harvard.edu to submit your application fee waiver request.

  • Is there an interview?

    When possible, we try to arrange for you to meet with alumni/ae in or near your school communities. You will not be at a disadvantage if an interview cannot be arranged. In the U.S., Canada and the U.K., an alumnus/a will contact an applicant directly by phone, e-mail, or letter if such an interview is possible. If you live outside these areas, we aim to hold an admission interview when and where possible. Our interviewers abroad are graduates of Harvard who offer their assistance on a volunteer basis. While we try to make interviewers as widely available as possible, it will not always be possible for a student to have an interview. The absence of an interview will not adversely affect your candidacy. See more about international interviews.

  • Are international transfer students eligible for financial aid?

    The financial aid policies for foreign citizens are exactly the same as those for U.S. citizens. All aid is need-based, and admissions decisions are made without regard to whether an applicant has applied for financial assistance.

Testing
  • If I sit for GCE A-levels or other international credentials, must I submit SAT or ACT scores?

    Yes. We realize students educated abroad may be unfamiliar with these examination formats or may have followed a different syllabus, but all applicants must submit the results of the SAT or ACT (with writing) and two SAT Subject Tests.

  • What if English is not my first language?

    A strong knowledge of English is essential for successful study at Harvard, including the ability to understand and express thoughts quickly and clearly. We require the results of the SAT or ACT (with writing) and two SAT Subject Tests for all candidates. The SAT English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) is not acceptable. Students are not required to submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) unless the SAT exams are not available in their current location. Candidates whose native language is not English should not take the SAT Subject Test in their native language to fulfill one of their two required tests.

  • What if I cannot take the SAT or ACT in my country?

    These standardized tests are now given in almost all countries. We realize you may have to travel some distance or plan for testing long in advance, but these test results are required tools in our analysis of applications. In our competitive applicant pool, students lacking these test results are usually denied admission. Foreign students in one of the very few countries where the SAT is not available (for example, China) may submit alternative testing such as the Graduate Record Examination. For more information about the GRE, consult www.gre.org. Students in such countries should also take the TOEFL.

  • Are International Transfer Applicants required to take the SAT or ACT exam?

    Yes. All transfer applicants, including those from outside of the United States, are required to submit the SAT or ACT (with writing) exam.

Visiting Undergraduate Students (VUS)

Applying to be a Visiting Undergraduate Student
  • What is a Visiting Undergraduate Student (VUS)?

    Students currently enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university may apply to spend one or two semesters studying at Harvard College. After completing their time at Harvard, the students return to their home school, where Harvard credits are generally accepted, to complete their degree.

  • Am I eligible to become a Visiting Undergraduate Student (VUS)?

    If you are currently enrolled full-time at an accredited college or university you may apply to spend one or two semesters studying at Harvard College. This program is not for High School Graduates who wish to study at Harvard for a Gap Year. Additionally, since the VUS Program is for full-time undergraduate students only, if you have already achieved the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree, you would not be eligible. However, you might be eligible to be a “Special Student” at the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. For more information on this program, please visit their website: http://www.gsas.harvard.edu/programs_of_study/special_students_admission…

  • Are Standardized Tests Required as part of the Visiting Undergraduate Student (VUS) Application?

    Students whose native language is not English are REQUIRED to submit a TOEFL score not more than two years old. The results of this test are very useful to the Committee as it considers international applicants. Official tests results must be submitted electronically to the Admissions Office from the ETS (code#3434). We do not require SAT, ACT or AP scores to be submitted in order to apply to the Visiting Undergraduate Student Program. However, we encourage students who have taken them to submit their scores, because all information about a candidate is helpful in the admissions process.

  • I am from another country but I speak English proficiently. Do I still need to take the TOEFL?

    Without all of the information about a candidate, we cannot make exceptions to this requirement and time constraints do not allow us to pre-screen all applicants to determine if they are exempt from taking the TOEFL. Therefore, we advise all students whose native language is not English to take the TOEFL and submit the results.

  • Is there a minimum TOEFL score required?

    While there is no absolute test score cut-off, the Committee would be concerned that an internet based TOEFL score below 100 might indicate that the candidate does not have sufficient fluency in English to do well in classes here.

  • Am I eligible for Harvard Housing?

    Visiting Undergraduate Students are not offered University housing. Accepted students must find their own housing before they arrive in Cambridge.

  • Am I eligible for Financial Aid?

    As a Visiting Undergraduate Student, you will not be eligible for Harvard financial aid and you must secure your own funding.

  • When Should I Apply?

    The deadline to apply for the Fall Term or a Full Academic Year is April 1st, and the deadline to apply for the Spring Term is October 1st. Ordinarily students are not allowed to defer admission. Therefore it is advised that you apply for the appropriate term. Additionally, we are not able to make early admission decisions for students who wish to apply for a later term.

  • Do Visiting Undergraduate Students (VUS) have the same privileges as Harvard Degree Candidates?

    While VUS are not degree candidates and do not receive a diploma from Harvard College, they have access to all libraries, academic, and athletic facilities just like Harvard degree candidates. VUS are affiliated with Dudley House, the Harvard House for students who live off campus. If you would like to learn more about life as a Visiting Undergraduate Students and the affiliation with Dudley House visit: http://dudleyundergrad.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k71131&tabgroupid=…

Financial Aid: Application Questions

CSS Profile
FAFSA
Fee Waiver
  • How can I get a financial aid fee waiver?

    Harvard does not charge a financial aid application fee (we do charge an admissions application fee; if you need to contact the Admissions Office about an admissions fee waiver, you can do so here.) If you are a US Citizen or Permanent Resident, or Canadian Citizen, you will be required to file the CSS PROFILE, an application independent of Harvard but that will normally require the payment of a fee.  You will automatically be evaluated for a waiver of the PROFILE application fee ($9 registration fee plus $16 per college selected) at the point that you submit your PROFILE data to the College Board.  The College Board is wholly responsible for the PROFILE and will grant a waiver of their fees if they deem it appropriate.  You can contact the College Board to learn more by calling 1-800-239-5888.

  • I can't afford the Profile fee and I'm foreign, so I can't get a College Board waiver.

    You should follow the instructions for international students paper submission, found on our website under Applying for Aid, then Prospective Students.

  • I can't pay the Profile fee because the US won't accept credit card payments from my country.

    You should follow the instructions for Foreign Student Paper Submission, found on our website under Prospective Students, then Application Instructions.

Other
  • Do I need to apply for a state scholarship?

    Yes, if you are a resident of CT, VT, or DC, you must submit the supplemental state grant application to the appropriate agency. Students who are eligible for state grant funds but fail to follow the procedures and deadlines set by their state grant programs will not receive additional Harvard financial aid to cover lost funding.

  • How will I know if my financial aid application is incomplete?

    For prospective students, we cannot verify receipt of any information until after a student is admitted. If you are missing financial aid materials at the time of admission, we will notify you immediately. Current students can check their my.harvard.edu account where information is updated daily.

  • When will I find out about my financial aid award?

    If you are a prospective student and completed your application by the deadline, then you will receive an award decision in your acceptance mailing. If you missed the application deadline, an award decision will be completed as soon as possible and in the order it is received. If you are a current student, award decisions will be posted to your my.harvard account by July 1st. If you missed the application deadline, an award decision will be completed during the remainder of the summer and in the order it is received.

  • What is the deadline for applying for financial aid?

    Prospective Students: November 1st, for Early Action candidates. February 1st, for Regular Action candidates. Current Students: May 1st.

  • What can I do if my family's financial situation is complicated?

    Attach a letter to the tax returns you are submitting explaining the special circumstances.

  • What if I am interested only in applying for federal loans (Stafford and PLUS)?

    If you do not intend to apply for need-based grant aid from Harvard but do want to apply for a Federal student or parent loan, please notify us of your intentions and submit only the FAFSA. Once we receive your FAFSA information electronically from the Department of Education, our office will notify you of your loan eligibility.

  • Do transfer students qualify for financial aid?

    Yes. All transfer applicants, including international students, are eligible to apply for need-based financial aid. Application instructions can be found here.

  • Can I email you my documents?

    No. We cannot accept any documents over email. You should send them to the College Board IDOC service, and if that is not available to you, you should send them by regular mail or fax.

  • How can I track material that I’ve sent your office?

    For prospective students, given the tremendous volume of material sent to our office , we are unable to confirm receipt. Rest assured that if we discover we are missing necessary financial aid application materials or have any questions we will be in contact with you (by email or phone) after the student is admitted. Current and admitted students can always check the status of their application on my.harvard.

  • Do my documents have to be in English?

    We require English translation for all documents. Documents do not, however, need to be translated by an official translator. Most students will save the cost of paying a translator and simply write the translation directly on the documents themselves.

  • I am undocumented. Am I still eligible for financial aid?

    Undocumented students should apply for financial aid as international students. While undocumented students are typically ineligible for federal financial aid, students can still receive grants and loans from Harvard. Like international students, undocumented applicants will fill out the CSS profile, but not the FAFSA

    Prospective students should go here for more information and current students should go here.

IDOC
Taxes
  • What if my parents are unemployed or did not file a tax return?

    If your parents are not required to file a 2014 federal tax return, they should send a signed statement listing all sources and amounts of income for their household in 2014. Each non-filer must print and complete a verification of non-filer status and submit it to IDOC with the rest of your application materials.

  • What should I do if my parents or I will be requesting an extension for filing their current year federal taxes?

    For prospective students, we will be happy to accept your completed application for financial aid whenever it arrives. We do ask, however, that you send your 2014 tax returns to IDOC as soon as possible after they become available. You should not submit 2013 documents unless you are specifically asked for them. If you receive a positive admissions decision and still have not been able to send your 2014 tax returns, please be in touch with us by phone after you receive your admissions decision.

    For current students, please send a copy of the IRS extension application to IDOC with the rest of your application materials. Please note that we will be unable to calculate your financial aid award until we receive the actual 2014 tax return.

  • Can I send my tax returns directly to you?

    IDOC is the best method for sending us documents, and is required for all US tax returns. Those students applying Early Action who are required to send in tax returns should follow the instructions for applying for aid during the Early Action period. Those students who are abroad and are unable to use IDOC may send their foreign tax returns directly to us by mail or fax. Please be sure that anything you send directly to us includes your full applicant name, applicant year, and some other unique identifier (school, birth date, etc.)

  • What if my country doesn't have a tax return?

    You should send any documentation they do have. Many families will send a year-end wage statement, or a letter from each employer stating annual compensation.

Divorced/Separated
  • What should I do if the Noncustodial PROFILE is missing?

    If you filed the online PROFILE, your noncustodial parent should complete a Noncustodial Parent’s PROFILE online. After you file the custodial parent PROFILE, you will receive instructions from the College Board to send to your noncustodial parent explaining how to complete this process. If you are an international student and chose to file the paper Financial Statement for Students from Foreign Countries, please have your noncustodial parent to complete and submit a separate form along with their most recent tax return or wage statement.

  • If my parents are divorced or separated, do they both need to send in financial information?

    Yes, your custodial parent should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS PROFILE Application, and your non-custodial parent should complete the Noncustodial Parent’s PROFILE and both should submit their taxes. We feel strongly that both parents have an obligation to support you, and a divorce or separation does not change that obligation. We look at each case individually, and we make every effort to be sensitive to particular family circumstances when deciding how much to ask from each parent. You should attempt to obtain financial information from both natural parents and explain any problems to us in writing. If either parent is remarried, financial information about their new spouse and dependents, if any, should be provided. In this way we obtain the fullest possible picture of your financial background and can make the fairest judgment about your need for assistance. If we have received financial information from both your parents, the figure listed as “parent contribution” on your award letter will be the combined figure for your parent 1 and parent 2, determined by doing a separate need analysis for each. It is up to you and your parents to decide how to divide the responsibility for paying the termbills.

Missing Documents
  • What should I do if my CSS PROFILE Data is missing?

    Please visit the College Scholarship Service web site www.collegeboard.com to complete the PROFILE or call 1-800-626-9795. The Harvard College CSS code number is 3434. Once your CSS PROFILE has been processed (allow 7 days for CSS to process), you will receive an email from the College Board’s Institutional Documentation Service (IDOC) providing you with instructions on how to submit your tax forms and any other supplemental forms that may be required. Remember, it is important to provide your Social Security Number, if you have one, when you register for CSS PROFILE; Harvard will use this unique number to identify your data before loading any electronic records. NOTE: If you are a returning student and do not have a Social Security Number, please provide your Harvard ID number in the SSN field when you register for the CSS PROFILE. If you are a prospective/entering student and do not have a Social Security Number, please be sure to provide the same first, last and middle name, as well as birthdate on the CSS PROFILE that you provided on your Harvard admissions application.

  • What if tax documents are missing and I have already sent my materials to IDOC?

    Your parents and/or non-custodial parents should upload signed copies of their most recent federal tax return(s) with attending schedules to IDOC. Note that we will not be able to finalize your financial aid award until we receive your actual 2014 federal tax returns with all schedules - these should also be sent to IDOC as soon as they become available.) If you are an international student and a national tax return is not filed, your parents should ask each employer to submit a wage statement detailing their annual compensation.

    If we are only requesting corporate or partnership tax returns, please ask your parents to fax complete copies of the most recent business tax returns to our office.

  • What if my student tax return is missing but I didn't file a return?

    If you are not required to file a 2014 federal tax return, you should complete a non-filer statement and submit it directly to our office by mail (not email) or fax.

Financial Aid: General

Challenging Circumstances
Jobs
  • Am I required to work if I am an international student and I qualify for financial aid?

    There is no requirement to work. However, all students, international or American, who demonstrate financial need will have a student term-time contribution as part of their financial aid package, which they can typically meet with a job requiring about 10-12 hours per week. U.S. immigration regulations allow foreign nationals to work on-campus only, and they restrict the amount of time a foreign student can spend working while attending college. Jobs are plentiful and are often interesting and relevant to academic interests.

  • Is it easy to find a student job on or near campus?

    Jobs are plentiful at Harvard. Employment opportunities range from dining hall duties to work in the University’s libraries, laboratories, and offices. Students have also earned money on campus as bartenders, teaching assistants, sportswriters, computer programmers, lifeguards and research assistants, to cite a few examples. Working eight to twelve hours on average per week, most students find that they can work, excel academically, and participate in a range of extracurricular activities. Read more at our Student Employment Office website.

  • What is the Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP)?

    Your aid package will indicate if you are eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP) also known as “work-study.” Many aid packages list “Term-Time Job” as opposed to FWSP. This means that you are encouraged to find a job to help cover your costs although you are not eligible to work in FWSP-only jobs. There are many non-FWSP jobs available on campus as well, and last year close to 65% of all Harvard students chose to work during the year. FWSP is a wage subsidy program designed to expand your range of employment opportunities both on and off campus. FWSP is a federal financial aid program and thus it is not an option for international students or students who are not receiving federal aid. The FWSP wage-subsidy allows employers to hire students at wages they might not otherwise be able to afford because the federal government will pay roughly 70% of student earnings. Visit the Student Employment website to log into the jobs database to look for FWSP and non-FWSP jobs with your HUID and PIN at www.seo.harvard.edu.

  • What is a Term-Time Work Expectation?

    The term-time job expectation listed on your award letter is the amount of earnings during the academic year that we expect you to contribute toward your college costs. All earnings are paid directly to you, and it will be your responsibility to determine what portion of your earnings will be used towards billed (tuition, fees, room & Board, etc.) and/or non-billed (travel and personal expenses, etc.) expenses. Students can work while at Harvard, but only some students are eligible for the Federal Work Study Program (FWSP). Your financial aid letter will designate whether you can work in a job funded by FWSP or need to focus your job search on positions not funded by the program. Please note: You may request a student loan to replace or supplement part or all of a job expectation (term-time or FWSP). To request a loan, use the Loan Request Form.

Loans
  • Where can I find parent financing information?

    Many of our families find parent loans to be a useful tool for spreading the cost of education over a number of years. Parents may borrow up to the full cost of education, less any other financial aid. Parent loans are not based on financial need, and there are no income restrictions or penalties for early repayment. Harvard processes PLUS loans directly with the U.S. Department of Education through the Federal Direct Lending Program, without the need for banks and for-profit lenders. However, your financing options are not limited to the parent PLUS loan; you and your family may borrow from any lender you choose.

  • Are loans available if I choose not to work?

    If you will have heavy extracurricular demands on your time (such as playing football in the fall or acting in a spring drama production), you could choose to meet the job expectation completely through student loans.

  • Loan Terms to Know - Loan Servicer

    The loan servicer is the company/organization that is in charge of overseeing the loan repayment process. This means that they are the ones to collect monthly payments, calculate payoff amounts, and generally manage your account. There are many companies that act as loan servicers, so it is not a guarantee that your loan servicer and your lender are the same. Remember, the lender gives you the loan, the servicer is in charge of getting it back.

  • Loan Terms to Know - Master Promissory Note

    Commonly abbreviated MPN, this is the legally binding contract that sets the terms and conditions of your loan. It is also your signed acknowledgement that you will pay back the loan you have borrowed, plus any applicable interest. MPNs such as the one used for the Harvard Student Loan can be used over the course of the four years you will be at Harvard. This means that even if you utilize the loan over multiple years, the MPN only had to be signed once to do so.

  • Loan Terms to Know - Subsidized/Unsubsidized

    This term applies to the interest on your loan. If a loan is subsidized, then any interest that accrues while you are in school or in deferment is paid by the lender. This effectively makes it a 0% loan during that time. If a loan is unsubsidized, then the interest starts accruing immediately after the loan is disbursed. Many unsubsidized loans give you the option of either paying the interest as it accrues, or simply adding it to the principal of the loan. Adding loan interest to principal is known as capitalizing the interest.

  • What Loans are Available to Me? - For students receiving Harvard Grant Aid

    There are Harvard Student Loans and Federal Perkins Loans available for those students receiving some amount of Grant Aid. The amount you may borrow is determined by your class standing and by your Student Contribution, as calculated by the Office of Financial Aid. Federal Direct Stafford Loans may also be used, but you should speak with your Financial Aid Officer first.

  • What Loans are Available to Me? - For students not receiving Harvard Grant Aid

    Federal Direct Stafford Loans are likely an option and are generally a good starting place. The Stafford Loan can be either subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on federal eligibility. It is limited to US/Permanent residents only. The amount you can borrow is based on your class standing.

  • What Loans are Available to Me? - For Parent Borrowers

    Parent Loans can be divided into two options – Federal and private. The Federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (known as the PLUS loan) is a widely used program available for parents of undergraduate students. Private loans can also be used, but will likely require a cosigner. In general, it is suggested that when shopping through private loan options you should compare the terms and conditions offered to those of the PLUS loan.

  • What Loans are Available to Me? - Alternative Loan Options

    There are also private loan options available to most students, however we recommend exhausting Institutional and Federal loan options first. Nearly all private student loans will require a credit worth co-signer, so be prepared if that is the route you choose to go. In general, taking out a loan will not have an impact on your eligibility for future Harvard Need-Based Aid.

  • What Loans are Available to Me? - Specific Information on Loan Programs

    If you’re looking for specific information on each loan program, this can be found on our website in the Loans Section under Types of Aid.

  • What are some alternatives to borrowing? - Outside Awards

    These can help you reduce your need for loans by covering some or all of your Student Contribution. Before applying though, be sure to check out our Outside Award Policy first. This will explain how Outside Awards are applied to your account and any effects they may have on your ability to borrow.

  • What are some alternatives to borrowing? - Term-Time Work

    This is another option some student will use to help cover every day expenses. Through our Student Employment Office, you can look for jobs both on and off campus. This allows you to work during part of the semester and use your wages towards things like books, travel, or miscellaneous expenses. Wages from term-time work can also be used to make prepayments on your loans, thus reducing the possibility of accruing interest later on.

  • What are some alternatives to borrowing? - Monthly Payment Plans

    These are also a way to help manage college expense and are administered by the Student Billing Office. By contacting them, you can set up a monthly payment plan and spread out the semester’s bill into 4 installments rather than one lump sum. For more information about, check out http://sfs.harvard.edu/monthly-payment-plan.

  • Things you should consider - Two Important Questions

    Taking out a loan can seem like a daunting proposition, one made more difficult by the thought of future repayment. If you aren’t sure whether a loan is right for you, then you should ask yourself two questions. (1) Can I afford to pay the bills without a loan and (2) Can I afford the payments later when the loan goes into repayment? If the answers to these questions are “no” and “yes” respectively, then maybe a loan can help you.

    Be careful though; the second question is one many students don’t think about. If can be tough having debt after you graduate, but it’s far worse to have debt and no way to pay it. Before you apply for a loan, you should consider your future plans and potential salary.

     

  • Things you should consider - Future Plans

    As a general guideline, your starting salary after graduation should be able to accommodate loan payments of 10-15% of your monthly gross income. One way to get started is to use an online calculator to estimate the average salary for your desired occupation (in your desired city.) This will help you get an idea of what your monthly income might be. Don’t forget to include expenses such as gas, rent, and utilities.

  • Things you should consider - Helpful Resources

    There are many websites and resources out there that can help you estimate your earnings potential based on your intended major, career path, and location. These are a few that we have used in the past, but by no means is this an exhaustive list.

    www.PayScale.com    
    www.GlassDoor.com
    www.Salary.com
    www.PayCheckCity.com

     

  • Setting the Groundwork - After Graduation

    For many loans, once you drop below half-time enrollment you will enter your grace period. This is a period in which you aren’t in school, but your loan payments aren’t yet due. Grace periods can be anywhere from 6 to 9 months, depending on the loan. After your grace period is over, repayment will begin. An important step in evaluating your repayment is figuring out how much you will owe each month. This is a function of how much you borrowed, your interest rate, and your repayment term. If you don’t know this information about your loan, you should contact your lender today and find out. Waiting until that first payment is due to find out how much you owe can be an expensive mistake.

     

  • Setting the Groundwork - Calculating your monthly payment

    To estimate your monthly payment, you should use a loan amortization calculator. One such calculator can be found here http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/college-planning/loan-calculator.aspx.  For Perkins, Harvard, and Federal Loans such as Stafford and PLUS, the interest rate is fixed. This means that it won’t change over the life of your loan. It is important to note that if your loan has a variable rate, then your monthly payment is likely to change over the course of the repayment term. This means that any estimates you make now may not be useful in the future, since any change in interest rate will change your amortization schedule. For specific information on your rate and how it might change, be sure to contact your lender.

  • Reducing the cost of your loan - Making Prepayments

    For education loans, there should be penalties or fees for making prepayments. If your lender tells you that you cannot make payments before they are due, then we highly suggest you find a new lender. Prepayments are just as they sound, payments made on a loan before they are due. By making payments before they are due, you can drastically reduce the amount of interest you pay in the long run, thus reducing the total cost of the loan. As an example, say you were able to pay off a subsidized loan before it entered repayment. By doing so, you effectively reduced the cost of the loan to $0, since you were able to pay it back in its entirety before any interest accrued.

  • Reducing the cost of your loan - Avoid Capitalizing Interest

    As mentioned in a previous section, capitalizing interest is when interest accrues on your original loan and, rather than paying it off, you let it get added to the principal balance. Capitalized interest generates additional interest, which generates additional cost. If left unchecked, this can grow into a much larger loan than you had originally intended to borrow. It’s true that sometimes making payments during a grace period or deferment isn’t feasible, so this may happen from time to time. But if you can afford to at least make interest-only payments, this can reduce the potential cost of your loan. Be sure to contact your lender to see if interest-only payments are an option, since not all lenders offer this.

  • Reducing the cost of your loan - Making “extra” payments

    Adding funds to your required monthly payment is a good way to save money on your loans. By paying more than is due each month, you are lowering the principal of the loan and at the same time the amount of interest that accrues. Not only does this save money in the loan run, but it also cuts down on the repayment term. For example, a $10,000 Perkins Loan has a monthly payment of $106. If you were to add $10 to that payment each month, you would reduce the repayment term from 10 years to less than 9 years and reduce the cost of the loan by nearly $300.

  • What if I can’t make my loan payments? - Contact your Lender/Loan Servicer

    Budgeting for student loans after college can be difficult. That being said, if you are having trouble with your payments then you should be in touch with your lender or loan servicer. Paying less than the minimum due or skipping payments altogether are not good strategies, and both can damage your credit. Depending on your situation and your loan program, there may be options to help alleviate stress related to making your loan payments.

  • What if I can’t make my loan payments? - Deferment

    Deferment is a temporary pause in your loan payments granted at the discretion of the lender. For loans that are subsidized, a deferment keeps that subsidy intact so you don’t have to worry about accruing additional interest. There are various scenarios in which deferment is a viable option. The most common is graduate school. Students enrolling in post-graduate work at a minimum of half-time can usually receive a deferment on their loans. Other reasons could include serving in the armed forces, experiencing economic hardship, and severe illness/disability. The only way to know for sure if you can receive a deferment is to contact your lender. Make sure to ask how long a deferment is good for, since some may only last one year and require new applications each year thereafter.

  • What if I can’t make my loan payments? - Forbearance

    Forbearance is also a temporary pause on loan payments, but in this case the interest will continue to accrue regardless of whether the loan is subsidized or not. Forbearances are usually offered only in cases of economic hardship and should be used as a last resort. Because loan interest continues to accrue, a prolonged forbearance period can dramatically increase the amount of debt you are responsible for.

  • What if I can’t make my loan payments? - Can I change my repayment plan?

    The ability to change your loan repayment will vary from lender to lender. For Perkins and Harvard Loans, there is only one repayment option which is at a fixed rate over 10 years. For Federal Loans such as the Stafford Loan, there are other repayment options. Many of these are contingent upon your annual income and require approval before you can sign up. The best way to explore your options is by speaking with your lender or servicer directly. While alternative payment plans may lower your monthly payment now, they usually increase the cost of the loan as a result. In general, the default repayment plan is generally the cheapest option (i.e. less interest paid over the life of the loan.)

    For information about Federal Loan payment plans, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans.

     

  • Other Considerations - Withdrawals/Leaves of Absence

    If you withdraw, take a leave of absence, drop below half-time enrollment, or leave college entirely, your loans will enter their grace period and then go into repayment. It is important to contact both the Financial Aid Office and your lender(s) so you can discuss repayment or deferment options, as well as what happens if you decide to re-enroll. The important thing to know is that just because you leave school, it doesn’t mean your loans are left behind. If you leave school, temporarily or permanently, repayment begins regardless of whether or not you have received your intended degree. This is why it’s important to keep track of your grace period and also provide your lenders with up to date contact information.

  • Other Considerations - Transferring to another school

    If you transfer schools while still an undergraduate, you need to let your lenders know where you are attending and what your enrollment status will be. They may request proof of enrollment from your new school, especially if you are requesting an in-school deferment. This can typically be completed with the help of the registrar’s office at your college. In addition, you are required to complete a Loan Exit Interview. This is a loan counseling session where you review the terms and conditions of your loans, including your repayment obligation now that you are no longer enrolled at least half-time.

  • If you’re a current undergraduate - Contact the Financial Aid Office

    If you are still enrolled as an undergraduate, then your point of contact is generally going to be the Financial Aid Office. This is especially true if your loan question is about a Perkins, Harvard, or Federal Direct Loan such as PLUS or Stafford. For those students currently on leave, feel free to contact us as well.

  • If you’ve already graduated - For Perkins Loans or Harvard Institutional Loans

    Your loan servicer is the Harvard Loan Office and you can contact them at http://sfs.harvard.edu.

  • If you’ve already graduated - For Federal Direct Stafford/PLUS Loans

    Your loan servicer will vary. If you haven’t already been contacted or have lost the information, you can verify your loan servicer by logging into www.nslds.ed.gov (National Student Loan Data System). You can also view a list of current Loan Servicers here.

  • If you’ve already graduated - For Private Education Loans

    In all likelihood, your lender and your servicer will be the same. Any inquiries you have about repayment, deferment, applications, etc., would be answered by your lender.

Outside Awards
  • What happens to my financial aid award if I receive additional outside assistance?

    A large percentage of each entering freshman class receives one or more outside awards from national or local organizations. When adjusting the Harvard financial aid package, 100% of the total outside award amount is first deducted from your job expectation, and then from your summer earnings expectation, up to the total amount of those expectations. If the total of outside awards exceeds the combined amount of your job and summer earnings expectations, that excess amount is deducted from the Harvard Scholarship. Since outside awards are additional resources that help to meet need, they may not be used to replace your parents’ contribution or other expected family resource.

    For example, if you were originally offered a financial aid package with a $3,000 job, a summer earnings expectation of $1,600, and a $15,000 Harvard Scholarship and subsequently receive a $2,000 National Merit award and $2,000 from the Elks Club, then we will reduce your term-time job expectation to $0 and your summer expectation to $600. Only if outside awards exceeded $4,600 would they have any impact upon the amount of Harvard Scholarship.

  • What do I need to do to Report Outside Award(s)?

    If you expect to receive an outside scholarship that is not reflected on your award letter, including tuition benefits from parents’ employers, you should report it to the Financial Aid Office by visiting https://asperin.fas.harvard.edu/oars/login.jsp. We will adjust the financial aid package to reflect the receipt of additional resources.

Other
  • Is there financial aid available for foreign students?

    Yes, on exactly the same basis as for American students. Although foreign students are not eligible for any federal funding, the College has its own job and scholarship money available to foreign students.

  • Does Harvard participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program and/or ROTC?

    Harvard University is proud to help veterans continue their education by participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program. As a part of the University, the Harvard College Financial Aid Office will be administering Yellow Ribbon Funds for its eligible undergraduate students. The aid provided by the government will be treated like all outside awards , and students will receive a matching amount from the College. Eligibility for the Yellow Ribbon Program is determined by the Veterans Affairs Administration and not by Harvard College.
    Students interested in ROTC opportunities, please visit the following service websites:
    Army ROTC (scholarships)
    Air Force ROTC website. Also, read about the new Foreign Language Express Scholarships.
    Navy ROTC

  • Does applying for financial aid affect my chances for admission?

    No. Your financial circumstances are never an impediment to admission. Foreign students have the same access to financial aid funding as do U.S. citizens.

  • Is it easy to qualify for financial aid at Harvard?

    Yes. No American college has a more generous financial aid program. See how affordable Harvard can be. [Net Price Calculator]

  • Will Harvard provide travel expenses for international students who receive financial aid?

    All students, American and international, who are on financial aid have a travel allowance included in their financial aid award to help cover the cost of travel to and from Cambridge. Overseas students are advised to seek information from the nearest U.S. Cultural Affairs Office about travel grants and other financial assistance available to qualified students from various foundations and from the U.S. government.

  • How do you determine eligibility for Harvard Scholarships?

    We determine your financial aid award based solely on your family’s demonstrated financial need. Our program is designed to help families across the economic spectrum, from low to upper-middle incomes.

    Aid is completely need-based and considers many factors, such as your family’s income, assets, size, and unusual expenses. There are no merit-based awards, and we have no preferential packaging policies that give some students more attractive awards than others.

  • Are there any merit-based financial aid awards at Harvard?

    No, we admit students based on their strengths and talents, but all Harvard-administered aid is based only on financial need, and we treat all admitted students equally in terms of their eligibility for that aid.

  • What are travel and personal expense allowances?

    Travel: An allowance toward the cost of traveling to and from Harvard has been included in your budget on your award letter and used in calculating your eligibility for financial aid. You are responsible for booking and paying for your own travel. Many students will use the money they earn over the summer to meet the costs of travel to and from Harvard.
    Personal Expenses: The estimated cost for books, supplies, clothing, laundry, telephone, entertainment, local transportation, and other incidentals has been included in the personal expenses portion of your budget. Students generally spend between $800-$1200 on books over the course of both semesters. You are responsible for paying your own personal expenses. Many of the students will use money earned at their term-time jobs to cover personal expenses.

  • What should I do if my permanent address changes?

    Please email us and inform us of your new address. You will also need to file a change of address with the Student Data Office in the Office of the Registrar.

  • What should I do if I am returning from a leave of absence?

    Please notify our office if you are returning from a leave of absence. The same instructions and deadlines apply, regardless of whether you intend to return in the fall or spring semester. Make sure that you are current with loan repayments and that you file the necessary deferment or forbearance forms when you register. You may want to check the status of your student loans by calling the Student Loan Office at (617) 495-3782. In addition, your term bill from previous semesters must be paid in full.

  • Are deferred students still eligible for financial aid?

    Yes. You are considered for financial aid no matter when you are admitted.

Financial Aid: Study Abroad

Preparing To Go Abroad
  • What should I do if I am planning to Study Abroad for academic credit for part or all of next year?

    Please contact our office to determine your budget and arrange for the transfer of aid to the school you will be attending. Instructions and deadlines are here.

  • Where do I go for budgeting workshops?

    The Office of International Education (OIE) holds evening study breaks hosted by OIE student advisers to provide budget support. These student advisers have just returned from some of the most popular destinations such at the UK, France, and Spain, and will be able to help you in thinking about your budget. For more information, please contact the OIE. Workshops are available at the Financial Aid Office (FAO) on a walk-in basis to assist students with completing the Study Abroad Supplement. If you would like help with your budget, please bring photocopies of your program descriptions showing anticipated costs as well as your Study Abroad Supplement with you to one of the workshops. Please check our website for the latest information on times and dates of the workshops.

  • Am I eligible to use financial aid for study abroad?

    If you are receiving financial aid and are approved for academic credit during the academic year at another institution, your aid should be available to help cover your costs. The Office of International Education (OIE) determines your program is eligible for academic credit, and the Financial Aid Office (FAO) will work with you to determine the amount of aid you are eligible to receive for your study.

  • How do I notify the Financial Aid Office about my plans to study abroad?

    Complete the Study Abroad Supplement and return it, along with all supporting documents substantiating your budget, to the FAO. If you are planning to study abroad in the fall semester or for the full academic year, the form is due Thursday, May 1st. If you are planning to study in the spring semester, the form is due Friday, October 31st. Be sure to attach photocopies of your program description to the Supplement. Please submit the Supplement by these deadlines, even if you do not know all the answers to the questions, as you can always update it later.

  • How does the Financial Aid Office determine my study abroad budget?

    As with your Harvard budget, your study abroad budget will include a combination of billed and non-billed costs. We construct the budget from the program information that you submit on your Supplement, and these costs will include tuition and fees, room and board, and a standard allowance for personal expenses and books. In addition, we will include a standard allowance for air travel to the area of the world in which you will be studying and will include any additional non-discretionary expenses (e.g. visa/passport costs, medical expenses for required shots) that are specific to your program. Lastly, you will continue to be billed for the Harvard Student Services Fee during the semester(s) that you are abroad.

  • What happens if my program’s estimates differ from the standard amounts?

    You can provide that information on your Study Abroad Supplement for review by the Financial Aid Office.

  • Is it more expensive to study abroad?

    Since we use the same expected family contribution whether you are studying at Harvard or abroad, the cost to your family should be the same in both cases. However, if a budget is more than $5,000 above your Harvard standard budget, the costs in excess of that $5,000 threshold will not be eligible for additional scholarship funding. A subsidized loan will usually be available to meet these additional expenses.

    If while abroad you find that your necessary living expenses are substantially higher than anticipated, please contact your financial aid officer. You may be eligible for additional scholarship or a subsidized loan to help meet these expenses. It is to your benefit to contact your financial aid officer before using credit cards to meet unanticipated expenses.

    If you are worried that you do not have resources to fall back upon in the case of urgent expenses while abroad, or to allow you to take advantage of discretionary travel or cultural opportunities that may come up, we may be able to offer you an “unexpected expenses loan” in advance of your departure. This is a subsidized loan that you can take out for your time abroad. If you don’t end up using the loan funds while abroad, you can simply return them when you return. Interest on these funds does not begin to accrue until 6 months after graduation/withdrawal, so they may be a much better option than credit cards to help you manage expenses.

  • How do you determine my study abroad personal expenses allowance?

    The personal expenses allowance of your budget is meant to help toward your daily living expenses (separate from your Room and Board) while enrolled in your study abroad program. As expenses can vary greatly based on each student’s discretion, we are not able to meet every student’s individual expenses. Rather, we build an allowance toward them in your budget, but leave the daily choices to you. For instance, in regard to local travel expenses, we might be able to offer you financial aid toward commuting from your apartment to your school campus, but we wouldn’t be able to offer you scholarship toward a traveling tour that is separate from your program. However, we recognize that you may want to take advantage of your time away from Cambridge, and we encourage you to make your time abroad enriching and educational in the broadest sense. We may be able to offer you subsidized loan to help you expand the scope of your experience abroad, and allow you a wider range of choices.

  • Do I have to pay for health insurance when I’m abroad? Is that the same thing as the Health Services Fee?

    Please be aware that it is your responsibility to make sure that you have the appropriate health insurance coverage, whether you are studying on campus or abroad. All students are required to have health insurance, and the Harvard Blue Cross/ Blue Shield health insurance is automatically charged to each student’s termbill at the beginning of each semester. If you are covered under your family’s health insurance policy, you may be eligible to waive the Harvard health insurance. It is your responsibility to pursue the health insurance waiver, and University Health Services can help you with that decision.

    The Health Fee and the Student Services Fee are the two mandatory Harvard fees, and are automatically charged to each student’s termbill at the beginning of each semester. You continue to be responsible for the Student Services Fee while abroad, and we include it in your budget. However, students who are studying abroad are usually eligible to waive the Health Fee. It is your responsibility to pursue the Health Fee waiver, and you should contact University Health Services about the Health Fee waiver.

  • When will I find out how much aid I will receive for my study abroad?

    If you are applying for the fall semester or the full year, you will be notified at the same time you get your award letter for academic year provided you turned in your Study Abroad Supplement by the deadline. If you are applying for the spring semester, you will be notified in early December.

  • How do I know if I need to submit a Consortium Agreement?

    You will need to get a Consortium Agreement completed if you are attending a program affiliated with a U.S. college or university and you are receiving federal financial assistance (e.g., Pell Grant, Ford Direct Loan, Perkins Loan). Completion of this form is required by the federal government to ensure that you only receive federal aid from one institution. Please have this form completed as soon as possible before you go abroad. If you need to determine if you have federal aid for your study abroad, then check your term bill or contact your financial aid officer.

  • What happens with the monthly Harvard Student Billing Statement?

    All your financial aid will be disbursed to your Harvard termbill, and we will release your financial aid from your termbill directly to you. Your Harvard statement may take a few months to reconcile. Normally, you will not need to make any payments to Harvard while you are studying abroad unless you are being billed for a Harvard-sponsored program, or if your financial aid does not cover your Harvard Student Services Fee.

  • Who receives the bill from the study abroad program?

    The programs will send the bill to you or your family.

  • What should I do if my program requires that I make a deposit prior to when my financial aid would ordinarily be disbursed? Does financial aid cover my air travel?

    Usually, the family will pay the deposit and purchase the plane ticket as a part of the family contribution towards educational costs. If you have high financial need or if most of your educational costs are being met with financial aid, then you should contact your financial aid officer. We will work with you either to waive or reduce the deposit, or possibly pay it as necessary. We also may release funds to help you purchase your plane ticket.

While You Are Abroad
  • How much financial aid will be sent to the program and how much to me?

    The Financial Aid Office takes the anticipated financial aid for the semester(s) and subtracts any balance due to your Harvard term bill, including any back balance from the previous semester. The remaining amount will be refunded to you and you will be expected to make payments to the study abroad program as required.

  • What if I feel like my living expenses are higher than were anticipated?

    We encourage you to email your financial aid officer. While we do our best to construct an appropriate budget for you in advance based on the information provided by your program, we recognize that you may encounter higher costs during your time abroad. It is definitely to your benefit to contact your financial aid officer before relying on credit cards to help meet the difference in your expenses. We may be able to offer you additional scholarship or a subsidized loan to help with these unanticipated costs.

  • What happens if I have questions or problems while I am abroad?

    We want you to have an enjoyable and enriching study abroad experience. Although you may be very far away from Cambridge, the Financial Aid Office is still here as a resource to you, and we hope that you will be in touch with our office if we can be of any help to you.

  • What happens to my loans while I study abroad?

    While studying full-time and working towards your degree, your loans should not go into repayment. If they do, you need to provide written enrollment verification directly from your program either to the Federal Government (for your Direct Loan) or to Harvard (for your Perkins and/or Harvard Loans). You can download the deferment forms from the Student Loan Office. Do not ignore these notices or your loans may go into default.