Campus & Community

Major increase in undergraduate aid

3 min read

Harvard announced today a major increase in its annual scholarship program for undergraduates. The new plan underscores Harvard’s dual commitment to need-blind admissions and need-based aid, and reduces the amount that students are expected to contribute to their education. Students will now face less debt on graduation, and they will have more time to concentrate on academic and extracurricular pursuits while they are in the College.

Under the new plan, which calls for an increase of $8.3 million to Harvard’s undergraduate financial aid budget, all scholarship recipients will receive an additional $2,000 in need-based assistance from Harvard. This will reduce the “self-help” portion of a financial aid package – the amount a student is expected to contribute – by nearly 40 percent, from $5,150 to $3,150 per year. Students may choose to meet their obligations by working, by borrowing, or through a combination of the two.

The plan builds upon the actions in 1998 that increased all student grant packages by $2,000, and allowed undergraduates to use the full amount of any outside scholarship award to reduce their self-help portion. The measures announced today will apply, next September, to all recipients of financial aid in the College.

“Harvard is committed to the principle that all students have access to the whole range of academic and extracurricular opportunities while they are here, as well as to the variety of career options that await them upon graduation,” said Jeremy R. Knowles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “While we believe that our undergraduates should share in the investment of their education, including the use of low-interest loans, the new financial aid program ensures that – no matter what their resources – all our students can embrace and enjoy the possibilities here, without carrying a significant burden of term-time work, or of debt after graduation.”

Harvard’s financial aid budget for undergraduates next year will be nearly $100 million, with more than $63 million in the form of scholarships from the College, all of which are based on need. Nearly 70 percent of Harvard undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Particular income groups are not treated differently, but students are considered for assistance based on the whole picture of their families’ circumstances. The average annual grant for the 2001-02 academic year will be more than $20,000. Tuition, fees, and room and board will rise by 3.5 percent, to $34,269.

Need-blind admission ensures that all students, including those from abroad, are considered for admission without regard to their financial circumstances. Need-based aid provides the support that allows every admitted student to come to Harvard. In the recently concluded Campaign, more than $230 million was raised for undergraduate scholarship endowment. That endowment, with the use of other discretionary funds, allows Harvard to sustain its commitment to need-based aid. The new aid program further assures all admitted students that they can afford to come.