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Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to one of the top universities in the world! Now you’re probably wondering how to pay for your Harvard education. Whether you’re headed to Harvard Medical School to earn that white coat, Harvard Kennedy School to pursue a career in politics or another one of Harvard’s 12 schools, private education can be costly. 

Read on for an overview of what to expect and how to navigate the costs.

How much does it cost to attend Harvard?

The cost of attending Harvard will vary by the program you select.

For Harvard undergraduates in the 2015-2016 academic school year, tuition alone was more than $45,000, and the total cost of attendance as much as $69,000 after factoring all the fees, room and board, books and more.

Tuition for most graduate programs at Harvard tends to be even more expensive. Harvard Business School, for example, charged $61,225 in tuition for the 2015-2016 school year; Harvard Law School, asked for $57,200; Harvard Medical School asked for $55,850. Then the total additional costs are as much as $30,000-$40,000 per year, which you should add on top of tuition. 

Many graduate school attendees are married or have children, and are more likely to want to live off campus, travel, and spend more than undergraduates—all factors in why the total cost of attendance is so high for the advanced degree programs.

What kind of financial aid does Harvard offer?

With 12 different colleges at Harvard, it’s important to keep in mind that your financial aid options will depend on which program you are planning to attend. For this article, we’ll discuss financial aid for Harvard undergraduates; if you’re in a different program, please find a link to your school’s financial aid office below.

Financial aid for Harvard undergraduates

While the sticker price of a Harvard education might be high, the majority (70%) of Harvard students receive some financial aid, and 100% of students are offered the chance to graduate debt-free through work-study programs.

Given Harvard’s significant endowment ($37.6 billion, to be exact, and more than 1,500 individual contributions to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Scholarship), it’s no surprise that the majority of undergraduates leave with a bachelor’s degree and little to no student debt. 

At Harvard, the Financial Aid Office first determines your parent contribution (which is up to their discretion), then factors in outside scholarships and student employment. School scholarships, which come from a variety of sources, including endowments, gifts from alumni, tuition revenue, and federal and state grants make up the gap. 

As long as you’re a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, your application for financial aid from Harvard is done through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). All applicants (regardless of citizenship) are also required to fill out what Harvard calls a CSS Profile and IDOC Packet.

According to Harvard’s Financial Aid, students are not expected to take out loans, but can do so in order to cover student or family contributions. Applications for federal student loan can be completed with your FAFSA. If you are not eligible for a federal loan, Harvard offers its own loan program, or you can look into private student loans.

Financial aid for Harvard graduate programs

Each graduate program at Harvard has its own financial aid program. You can click on the school you’re interested in to see what it offers.

What kinds of extras should I expect to pay for at Harvard?

In addition to tuition, housing, and food, consider these expenses as you think about how you’ll pay for Harvard and what it will really cost you.

  • Car: Your wallet will thank you for not bringing a car to school and Harvard Parking Services even recommend against it due to limited parking and great access to public transportation. If you really need a car, make sure to factor in not only car payments, but insurance and parking costs.
  • Off-campus activities: In Boston, you’re lucky to be surrounded by amazing parks (not to mention America’s oldest, The Boston Common) and local museums that won’t cost an arm and a leg to enter. That said, don’t forget to account for off-campus activities such as entertainment, dining, and nightlife.
  • Travel: Let’s face it, Boston gets really cold in the winter. Are you going to need a spring break trip to escape the snow? If so, make sure you’re including that in your yearly expenses. Spending the next two years at Harvard Business School? If you’re like the average student, expect to rack up close to $20,000 on travel and other “discretionary” expenses before you put on the cap and gown. Regardless of your degree program, chances are you’ll at least be traveling home to see family, so add these expenses into your accounting.
  • Clothing: With temperatures in December below freezing in Boston, you’re going to need to invest in some serious winter and snow gear. If you’re an East Coast native, perhaps these are already staples in your closet, but Californians should set aside a significant ‘bundle up’ budget.

Learn how to pay for graduate school in our new, free guidebook.

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