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Award Packages

The Financial Aid Program at Harvard Law School consists of Harvard grant assistance and loans from federal, institutional and private sources. In a typical year over 80% of J.D. students receive some form of assistance through Student Financial Services in order to meet their education expenses.

Harvard grant and loan funding is made possible by the generous contributions of Law School donors, both in the form of endowed scholarship accounts and annual giving. All institutional grant assistance is need-based and awarded solely on the basis of family financial strength. We do not offer merit assistance and we cannot match merit awards from other schools. 

The school's total annual grant budget covers less than 12% of the entire cost of attendance for the J.D. student population. As a result, it is a scarce resource and many students will not qualify for grant funding. For the majority of students financial assistance comes in the form of loans. Most students qualify for Federal Direct Stafford Loans and there are several supplemental education loan sources available to meet educational expenses. Combined funding from these sources can be obtained to cover the full cost of attendance. In other words, regardless of grant eligibility students can still obtain enough funding (in the form of loans, outside resources or part-time employment) to meet their full education expenses.

HLS grant funding can be generous for students with high financial need, but no student receives a "full ride" grant award. All grant assistance awarded by the school also includes a substantial required loan component known as the "base loan package." In 2013-2014, approximately 50% of J.D. student aid applicants (about 45% of J.D students overall) qualified for Law School grant assistance and the base loan package, while the remaining 50% of aid applicants received assistance in the form of loans only (Federal Direct Stafford and supplemental loans). 

Although financial aid packages vary in composition from one year to the next, some basic guidelines are followed each year. Student need is calculated by subtracting the available resources from a standard budget, which is set at $81,900 for 2014–15.

If a student’s demonstrated need is less than the base loan ($44,300 for 2014–15), the student is eligible for Federal Direct Stafford Loans (or the equivalent in Harvard Loans for international students) and may obtain supplemental loans, outside aid or part-time employment for additional funding. This student is not eligible for HLS grant aid or Perkins Loans.

If demonstrated need exceeds the $44,300 threshold for 2014-15, the student is eligible for the base loan package to meet the first $44,300 of need, and grant aid to meet the remaining need. The base loan may consist of a combination of Federal Direct Stafford, Perkins, Harvard, and supplemental loan funds. For international students (those who are not eligible for Federal Loans), the Stafford and Perkins loans will be replaced with Harvard institutional loans. Both the overall amount of the base loan and its exact composition changes each academic year in response to the availability of grant and loan funding. The composition of the base loan funds may also change during a given academic year if a particular loan fund is exhausted. The base loan usually rises in relation to annual increases in education costs.

Grant eligibility for any given year is always capped at the rate of tuition for that year. Students with dependent children (who often have high dependent care expenses) will receive a subsidized HLS loan to meet any demonstrated grant eligibility that exceeds the amount of tuition..

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Hypothetical Aid Packaging Scenarios

To further illustrate how we package financial assistance at Harvard Law School, below you will find two hypothetical packaging examples:

Typical Loan Recipient

-- Financial need is less than base loan ($44,300 for 2014–15)
-- 50% of those on aid received only loans

Determination of Need:
      Student Budget:  $81,900
Less     Student Contribution:  $  5,000 *
Less     Parent Contribution:  $40,000 *

Equals  Financial Need:        $36,900


Financial Aid Offer:
--Federal Direct Loan (or Harvard Loans for international students) of $ 20,500
--Additional aid may come from supplemental education loans, part-time employment and/or outside resources.
--Total funding from all sources must not exceed the student budget of $81,900.

Average Grant Recipient

--Financial need is greater than base loan ($44,300 for 2014–15)

Determination of Need:

      Student Budget:  $81,900
Less     Student Contribution:  $  5,000 *
Less     Parent Contribution:  $13,000 *

Equals  Financial Need:        $63,900


Financial Aid Offer:
--Base Loan: $44,300
--HLS Grant: $19,600
--Base Loan typically consists of a combination of Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Harvard Loans, and supplemental loans, depending on availability.
--Additional aid may come from supplemental education loans, part-time employment and/or outside resources.
--Total funding from all sources must not exceed the student budget of $81,900.

* To replace student contribution or assessed parent resources, students may borrow supplemental education loans, seek outside scholarships, and/or seek part-time employment. All supplemental borrowing to cover a parent resource assessment is eligible for loan repayment assistance under the Low Income Protection Plan; however, supplemental loan borrowing to cover an expected student contribution, while permissible, is not eligible for loan repayment assistance under the Low Income Protection Plan.

Last modified: October 31, 2014

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