Matthews Hall.

Matthews Hall glows with late afternoon winter light.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

40,246 apply to College Class of ’24

4 min read

Harvard expands financial aid to eliminate summer contribution

Applications for admission to Harvard College’s Class of 2024 totaled 40,246, the third time in Harvard’s history that applications have exceeded 40,000.  Last year, 43,330 students applied for the Class of 2023.

“We continue to be excited by the extraordinary students from across the nation and around the world who apply to Harvard College,” said William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid.

There are slightly more women (50.2 percent) than men in the applicant pool this year.

Biological sciences (23.6 percent) and social sciences (22 percent) remain the top interests of Harvard applicants.  There was a slight increase in the share of students expressing interest in Computer Science (11.2 percent versus 10.7) and the physical sciences (7.2 percent versus 6.8).  A similar share of students expressed an interest in the humanities (11.6 percent), engineering (13 percent), and math (5.8). Among applicants this year, 25.2 percent identify as Asian American, 12.6 identify as Latinx, and 11.2 identify as African American and 2.1 as Native American or Native Hawaiian.

The economic diversity of the applicant pool was similar to last year. Almost 30 percent of applicants requested a fee waiver, and more than 20 percent indicated they are the first generation of their families to attend college.

Today, Harvard announced it will expand its financial aid program again by eliminating the summer work expectation for students beginning in the 2020-21 academic year from all financial aid awards. Students will still be expected to contribute $3,500 through term-time work to meet their estimated personal expenses.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is investing an estimated $2 million to fund the program expansion. The goal of this change is to provide aided students with more flexibility to pursue academic, public service, or internship opportunities during the summer.

“This initiative is part of a broader effort to ensure that students can engage fully, explore bravely, make authentic choices, and realize their full potential as members of the Harvard community,” said Claudine Gay, Edgerley Family Dean of the FAS.

Maria Dominguez Gray, Class of 1955 Executive Director of Phillips Brooks House Association, said the additional aid will be especially impactful for students with the highest need, many of whom often have to choose more lucrative summer internships over public service.

“We were fortunate to receive funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative three years ago to forgive summer earnings for many students on financial aid, and while such grants have tremendous value to broadening participation in summer service programs, demand soon exceeded the existing funding. This aid expands options for students who may work in the Summer Urban Program in Boston or Cambridge, area homeless shelters, or as Mindich Service Fellows,” she said.

“Harvard continues to be a leader in reducing both real and perceived financial barriers for students and families,” said Jake Kaufmann, Griffin Director of Financial Aid. “This enhancement to our program will simplify financial aid awards, making them easier to understand.”

For more than 15 years, Harvard has consistently expanded its undergraduate financial aid program to attract and enroll the most-promising students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Since launching the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative in 2005, Harvard has awarded more than $2 billion in grant aid to undergraduates. Harvard’s undergraduate financial aid award budget has increased more than 148 percent, from $80 million in 2005 to more than $200 million in 2019. Last year, 1,115 (16.6 percent) students qualified for a Pell grant, an increase since 2008 when 695 (10.6 percent) of undergraduates received the grant.

Harvard costs the same or less than most public universities for 90 percent of American families. More than half of Harvard students receive need-based financial aid, and the average grant is $53,000. No loans are required. Families with incomes up to $150,000 and typical assets pay 10 percent or less of their annual incomes. Families with higher incomes receive need-based aid depending on individual circumstances. Harvard’s net-price calculator makes it easy for families to get a sense of the College’s affordability. For students not receiving need-based aid, the total cost of attendance (including tuition, room, board, and fees) is scheduled to increase by 4 percent to $72,391 for the 2020–2021 academic year.

Applicants will be notified of the admissions committee’s decisions on March 26. Admitted students will be invited to Cambridge to attend Visitas, a special program designed to familiarize them with the opportunities at Harvard. This year Visitas will be held April 18-20, and students will have until the national reply date of May 1 to make their final college choices.