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A Word or Two About Housing

There are many housing options available to Harvard Law School students: on-campus (HLS residence halls and apartments), HRES (Harvard Real Estate apartments), and off-campus (privately owned and operated living situations). Each option carries its own set of pros and cons in relation to start up and monthly costs, location, and amenities. Whichever option you choose, we strongly recommend that you thoroughly work through the various impacts your decision will have. Careful consideration of your housing decisions and their financial consequences at the beginning of the moving process are likely to pay off in the long-term in lowered stress levels and a more pleasant and productive HLS experience.

The HLS JD Student Budget is designed to accommodate a moderate style of living. In 2014-15, the 9-month (Sept – May) budget for Room/Board/Personal is approximately $2,302/month. (Please note that the 9-month academic year in this calculation does not include the 3-month summer working period.) For most of our students, living within this budget normally means living in one of the more economical HLS dorms, or finding a roommate situation where rent and housing expenses are shared with at least one other person

How Much Rent is Too Much Rent?

In general, HLS students find that housing takes up the single largest part of their living budget. As a very general rule, we recommend that students plan to commit about 50% of their budget to housing. In a recent budget survey, this was the average amount spent by HLS student respondents. Students should be leery of committing more than 60% of their personal expense budgets to housing costs, especially if they do not have access to any other resources except their student budgets

To break it down a bit further, a student that spends more than 60% of the Room/Board/Personal allowances budget on housing has about $31/day remaining to cover all other living expenses. While this may sound manageable, some students do not realize until it is too late that they have about $31/day to cover not only food and outside utilities (internet, cell phone, data plan, etc.), but laundry, professional clothes/wardrobe, any personal loan or credit card payments, entertainment, automobile maintenance, personal costs, start up costs to establish a new household (furniture, appliances, etc.) or other household costs, and anything else not expressly covered by rent payments.

If you have questions or concerns about budgeting, please contact your financial aid officer. Budgeting is a learnable skill, and we can provide you with some tools to help you get started.

On-Campus Housing (Residence Halls and HLS Apartments)

On-Campus housing offers several conveniences: proximity, fully-furnished dorm rooms, rent inclusive of utility bills, and no deposit/broker’s fees. The two types of on-campus housing are:

  • RESIDENCE HALLS
    • The on-campus residence halls consist of the Gropius Complex, Hastings Hall, and North Hall.
    • The range of rents runs from $6,939 to $14,453 per student for the 9-month academic year.
  • HLS APARTMENTS:
    •  The HLS apartment complexes are made up of 1637 Massachusetts Avenue, Baker Hall, and 3 Mellen Street in Cambridge, adjacent to HLS. 
    • The range of rents here runs from $12,010 to $17,336 per student.

In order to better illustrate the impact that renting one of these units might have on your living finances, here is that information translated into the percentage of your monthly budget that would be committed to paying rent:

  • RESIDENCE HALLS: Gropius/Hastings/North Halls
    • Lowest monthly rent = $    771, OR about 34% of the monthly living budget of $2,302
    • Highest monthly rent = $1,606, OR about 70% of the monthly living budget of $2,302
  • HLS APARTMENTS: 1637 Massachusetts Ave/3 Mellen Street/5 Mellen Street
    •  Lowest monthly rent = $1,375, OR about 60% of the monthly student budget of $2,302
    •  Highest monthly rent = $1,987, OR about 86% of the monthly student budget of $2,302

Please note than although these options are available to HLS students, the rent prices were not necessarily set with the HLS student budget in mind. It is each student’s responsibility to determine whether the rent will be affordable given their own situations. If you need help determining this, SFS is always glad to help: please contact your financial aid officer with any questions.

For more details on this option, please refer to the page on Harvard Law School On-Campus Housing. For questions about this housing option, please contact the HLS Housing Office by calling 617-495-1880, emailing housing@law.harvard.edu, or stopping by room WCC 3039.

HRES Housing

Students who prefer apartment-style living have the option of living in Harvard Real Estate-owned apartments. These apartments also offer convenience of proximity, rent inclusive of utility bills, and no deposit/broker’s fees.

HRES charges market rates. These rates are determined independently of the HLS (or any other Harvard school’s) student budget.

There is an HLS block of HRES housing at Terry Terrace and 29 Garden Street. The per student (per bedroom) rent charges range from $974/month to $2,112/month.

  • HRES HOUSING: 29 Garden/Terry Terrace
    • Lowest monthly rent = $1,019, OR about 44% of the monthly student budget of $2,302
    • Highest monthly rent = $2,096, OR about 91% of the monthly student budget of $2,302

Off-Campus Housing

The HLS Housing Office hosts a comprehensive discussion on the many considerations of off-campus housing here. Costs/factors to consider when making the decision where to live include – but are not limited to – rent, utilities, start-up costs, location, roommates, realtors’/brokers’ fees, and summer subletting options (see next section).

Special Considerations (Start Up Costs, Summer Rent)

SFS receives a number of housing-related funding questions from 1Ls and Transfer students who are relocating, and from current students who are making summer preparations. These are the most common areas of concern:

  • Start Up Costs: SFS cannot adjust the standard student budget to accommodate relocating students’ start up expenses. These expenses include first and last month’s rent, security deposits, brokers’/realtors’ fees, or other deposits or fees associated with securing housing.
  • Summer Rent: We cannot adjust the summer living allowance to accommodate two summer rent payments. This means that students should take care that their apartment leases or rental agreements have provisions that allow them to sublet during the summer months should their summer employment not be in the Boston area. If a student is unable to sublet their apartment for the summer, that student will be responsible for both rent payments. Students who are considering renting from HRES should take special care to make sure they fully understand the HRES subletting options and requirements. HRES provides a "sublet kit" to assist tenants with the processing of subletting their apartment to other qualified Harvard affiliates.

Resources

HLS Housing

Attn: Student Housing Coordinator
Harvard Law School Dean of Students Office
WCC 3039
1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617.495.1880
Fax: 617.496.0544
housing@law.harvard.edu

Student Financial Services

HLS Student Financial Services
Attn: JD Financial Aid
WCC 5027
1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: (617) 495-4606
Financial Aid Officer: Last Names beginning A – K = Susan Chin
Financial Aid Officer: Last Names beginning L – Z = Janie Rangel

Last modified: May 01, 2014

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