Harvard College tuition will rise 3.5 percent to $32,557 for the academic year 2008-09, and need-based scholarship aid will grow by 21.4 percent to $125 million. The total package (tuition, plus room, board, and student services fee) will be $47,215, a 3.5 percent increase over last year, among the smallest in the last decade. More than two-thirds of the Harvard entering class typically receives financial aid (including scholarships, loans, and jobs), with more than 50 percent qualifying for need-based scholarship assistance. For the upcoming year, the estimated average total aid package of close to $40,000 will reduce the average cost (including nonbilled personal expenses of approximately $3,000) to an estimated $10,500 for those families receiving financial aid. Need-based scholarship aid for undergraduates at Harvard has increased by 143 percent over the past decade, while the total package has risen by roughly 50 percent, reinforcing Harvard’s commitment to affordable education.
“Over the last few years, Harvard College has removed many of the financial barriers that might have prohibited many students from even considering applying. We want to encourage talented students from all economic backgrounds to pursue a Harvard education without incurring huge financial burdens. Our recently announced sweeping overhaul of financial aid policies makes Harvard College more affordable for families across the economic spectrum,” said Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. “The newest initiative, announced in December 2007, focuses on ensuring greater affordability for middle and upper-middle income families through major enhancements to grant aid, the elimination of student loans, and the removal of home equity from financial aid calculations,” he said.
Harvard has aimed over decades – and especially in the past few years – to open its doors increasingly wide to outstanding undergraduates from diverse economic backgrounds. The financial aid initiative announced last December is the latest in a long series of actions meant to ensure that Harvard College is within the financial reach of students of talent and promise, whatever their families’ means. Building on Harvard’s pioneering policy that eliminated contributions from parents with incomes below $60,000, this new enhancement to financial aid dramatically reduces the amount families with incomes below $180,000 will be expected to pay, by one-third to one-half. Families with incomes above $120,000 and below $180,000 and with assets typical for these income levels will be asked to pay 10 percent of their incomes. For those families with incomes below $120,000, the parental contribution percentage will decline steadily from 10 percent, reaching zero for those with incomes at $60,000 and below.