Campus & Community

Harvard increases financial aid to low-income students

3 min read

Record $166M program includes ‘Net Price Calculator’ to help students, families plan

Harvard College will expand its investment in undergraduate financial aid this year by more than $10 million, providing a record $166 million in need-based scholarships to undergraduates. Beginning in the fall of 2012, financial aid will be further increased for low-income students by raising the income level under which parents pay nothing for the cost of attendance.

To make its generous aid program easy to understand for potential applicants, Harvard College also launched today a “Net Price Calculator” on its financial aid website, customizing financial aid information for individual students and their families, in accordance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. With the new calculator, applicants and their families can enter their financial data to estimate the net price they will be expected to pay for a year at Harvard.

Since 2007, Harvard’s investment in financial aid has climbed by more than 70 percent, from $96.6 million to $166 million. More than 60 percent of Harvard College students receive financial aid, and the average grant this year is $40,000. Families with students on scholarship pay an average of $11,500 annually toward the cost of a Harvard education.

“Access and affordability, enabled by generous financial aid, are fundamental to Harvard’s identity and excellence,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “We admit students without regard to their financial need, and we make sure that they are given the means to attend and take advantage of the Harvard College experience. This is a bedrock commitment.”

In 2004, Harvard inaugurated a financial aid initiative for low-income students under which families with incomes below $40,000 pay nothing toward the cost of their child’s attendance at the College. Just two years later, this benefit was extended to families with incomes below $60,000. Beginning next fall, this ceiling will be raised to $65,000. These measures place Harvard’s financial aid policy among the most generous in higher education.

The new calculator’s individualized estimates will replace the broad income bands that Harvard currently employs to describe its financial aid policy. As students from the Class of 2016 use the calculator, they will see that families with incomes between $65,000 and $150,000 will contribute from 0 to 10 percent of income, depending on individual circumstances. Beginning with the Class of 2016, families with incomes between $150,000 and $180,000 will be asked to pay slightly more than 10 percent of income. Families at all income levels with significant assets will pay more, as under current policy.

“We will continue to evaluate every student’s financial need on an individual basis,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, Harvard College dean of admissions and financial aid. “We do not consider home equity or retirement assets in calculating aid at any income level, and we work with every student and family to develop a workable financial package. Our commitment to individualized attention and strong financial support, combined with our user-friendly calculator, will ensure that our financial aid program continues to be implemented with sensitivity to every student’s needs.”