Understanding Your Financial Aid Award - International Students

Total Budget

Your total budget is composed of the billed expenses of tuition, student services fee, health services fee, and housing and food (also known as room and board), plus an allowance towards the cost of books and supplies, an allowance for other personal expenses, an allowance to cover the required health insurance fee, and an additional allowance to contribute toward the annual cost of round-trip airfare.

It is possible that you will have some additional expenses which are not covered in your budget and which you or your family will need to cover in addition to the expected family contribution:

  • Initial Supplies: During your first year here you may need to purchase such items as sheets, blankets and winter clothing if you are from a warm weather area. We can give you suggestions on where to purchase winter coats and boots at reasonable prices.
  • Vacation: Since the dormitories and dining halls are normally closed during vacation periods and over the summer, you will need to support yourself during these times. Many international students spend vacation time with relatives, friends, or their host family, and room in groups over the summer in order to share expenses. Often students work on campus for a part of the summer to pay for a ticket home for the remainder of the summer.

Your Financial Aid Award

Since you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you are not eligible for any federal financial aid funds and may only work on-campus. The scholarship and job aid we have offered you includes only University funds. You have no earnings limit and you may earn more than the job amount listed on your award letter. You can expect to earn $1,750 a semester or $3,500 a year if you work at the average pay rate for 10 hours a week and more if you work 12 hours a week.

Students studying in Widener Library

Payment Options

While long-term financing plans are designed primarily for US citizens, you or your parents may be eligible to participate under certain conditions. If your parents are interested in any of these programs, they should contact our Loan Coordinator.

Social Security Number

Once you arrive in the US, you will need to obtain a US Social Security Number in order to receive a paycheck from your job. Find out more on the Harvard International Office website.

I-20 Forms

Before the Admissions Office can produce the I-20 Form, you must complete and return online the “Foreign Student Visa Survey” (FSVS). A link to the form will be sent to admitted students by email at the completion of the admissions process. Ordinarily, it takes several weeks for an I-20 to be produced and sent to you. You will need to present your I-20 and supporting documentation, such as your financial aid award notification, at the US Consulate nearest to your home in order to obtain the F-1 visa stamp in your passport and again at your point of entry to the United States. You must pay a $350 SEVIS fee before attending the visa interview; if you (or your family) do not have access to $350, please contact the Admissions Office no later than May 1 for suggestions on satisfying this requirement. If you have any questions regarding this process please contact the Admissions Office.

Two students looking at a laptop in a library study room

Taxation of Grants

US law requires foreign students to file a US federal tax return (and in some cases pay taxes) if their scholarship aid exceeds the total for tuition, fees, and books. The University is required to withhold 14% of the taxable portion of your scholarship in anticipation of the tax liability, and you will need to file a federal tax return in April to obtain a refund of the amount withheld. If your country has an income tax treaty with the US, you may not be subject to this withholding. More information is available at the Student Financial Services website. The Harvard International Office will also send information by email in the spring to help you understand this law.

view across the Charles River


We realize that as an international student you face special adjustments in coming to school in the United States. We will do our best to make your transition as easy as possible. We pride ourselves on the individual care and attention given to students, so please do not hesitate to contact us if we can help you in any way. Once you arrive in August you will be assigned to a financial aid officer who will assist you during your four years here.

You can contact the Griffin Financial Aid Office at 617-495-1581, or by email at faoweb@fas.harvard.edu.