Student Financial Services - nav image

Student Financial Aid Budget

All financial aid is awarded using the standard student budget established by a Financial Aid Committee made up of HLS faculty, students and administrators. The standard budget establishes the annual limit on financial aid (grants and loans from all sources) available to each student under ordinary circumstances. The Committee ensures that the standard budget fairly represents average costs for most students. Each year the Committee considers Bureau of Labor Statistics data in conjunction with local area rental rates and student-reported expenses to arrive at a reasonable budget that allows for a moderate standard of living for all students. Please carefully review the standard student budget and use it as a guide to plan for your expenses.

Standard Student Budget (9-Month)

 2014-15          2013-14
Tuition$ 54,850$ 52,350 
Room/Board/Personal Allowance$ 20,722$ 19,912
Mandatory UHS Student Health Fee$ 992$ 958 
Waivable Student Health Insurance Plan Fee    $ 2,366$ 2,190 
Books and Supplies Allowance$ 1,250$ 1,225
Travel Allowance$ 1,500$ 1,500 
Stafford Loan Fees$ 220$ 215 
 
TOTAL BUDGET$ 81,900$ 78,700

Note: International students do not pay Stafford Loan Fees. The travel allowance for international students is increased by an equivalent amount to produce the same total budget.

Books and Supplies Expenses

The Financial Aid Committee anticipates that some first-year students will spend more than the allowance for books and supplies, since book costs for first year students are typically higher than those for second and third year students. Moreover, book costs for the first semester of the first year are typically higher than those for the second semester. The Committee believes that the Books and Supplies Allowance is sufficient to cover these costs for most first year students, but some students may find that they need to allocate some funds from their Room/Board/Personal allocation to meet their book and supply costs.

Personal Living Expenses

Please note that the standard 2014-15 budget includes a nine-month Room/Board/Personal expense living allowance of $20,722, which works out to a monthly allowance of $2,302. We intentionally do not provide our interpretation of how this amount of money should be broken down across various expense categories. This is a highly personal decision; therefore, we leave it to you to allocate this allowance among your living and other expenses based on your particular needs and priorities. Enrollment in the Dental Insurance plan is optional but recommended for HLS students, and students may choose to allocate a portion of the Room/Board/Personal allowance in the standard student budget toward enrollment in this plan. Fee-for-service dental options are also available through Harvard University Health Services Dental Services. Please note that enrollment in the dental plan and the higher cost of books and supplies for some first year students may necessitate allocating a small portion of the Room/Board/Personal Allowance toward these expenses, and therefore may leave a lower remaining monthly allowance for living expenses.

Waiver of Health Fees for 2014-15

The Mandatory UHS Student Health Fee is required as part of enrollment at Harvard, and covers most services at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) with no copay. Waivers of the Student Health Fee are generally not available, except in very limited cases, as described at the bottom of this page on the HUHS website.

Massachusetts law requires that any full-time student enrolled in an institution of higher learning in Massachusetts participate in a qualifying student health insurance program or in a health plan of comparable coverage. All students are automatically enrolled in the Harvard University Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) to provide this required level of insurance coverage. The SHIP fee may be waived by students who document coverage under a comparable health insurance plan. Students who already have comparable coverage -- for example, under a parent's health insurance plan -- are advised to waive SHIP coverage. The deadline to waive SHIP coverage for an upcoming academic year without incurring a late fee is July 31.

Please note that under Federal student aid regulations, an allowance for the Harvard Student Health Insurance Plan may be included in the student's budget only for students who enroll in the plan. For students who waive this coverage, the allowance will not be given and the total student budget will be reduced by the amount of the plan fee. Students may request upon appeal to have the documented cost of an alternate health insurance plan for which the student pays added to the student's budget. Harvard University Health Services also provides an informative toolkit on the health care coverage options available to students through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including a comparison chart of important factors to consider when choosing health insurance coverage.

Married Students and Students with Dependents

Harvard Law School does not have a separate budget for married students or for single students with dependants. The same standard budget is used for all students. However, married students and students with dependents are afforded higher living allowances against income in the calculation of their student contribution from income. For more detailed information see the section Married Students and Students with Dependents.

Budget Increases

In extreme circumstances, students occasionally incur expenses during the year that may be legitimate reasons to warrant an increase in our standard budget listed above. Examples of allowable budget increases include higher travel expenses due to unforeseen family emergencies and un-reimbursed medical expenses. In order to request a budget increase, you need to submit our Appeal/Change of Status web form found on the Financial AId Forms section of our website.

Whenever possible, you should also provide original receipts of your additional expenses directly to our office. Generally, should a budget increase be allowed, the increase would be met in the form of additional supplemental education loan assistance. 

Computer Purchases

Student budgets may also be increased for the purchase of a computer. The maximum computer budget increase allowed is $2,000. Students may receive only one computer budget increase during their three years at Harvard Law School. The increase may include the cost of all approved hardware and software needed, as described in the Computer Reimbursement/Cash Advance page. This budget increase will be met with Federal (the maximum is $20,500 in Stafford Loans) or supplemental education loan borrowing. We do not offer HLS need-based grant assistance to cover computer expenses. Instructions on the Computer Reimbursement/Cash Advance process are in the Computer Reimbursement/Cash Advance section of the website.

Consumer Debt

While in school, students should use credit cards as minimally as possible. A credit card can be more convenient than using cash, but be wary of using credit cards unless you can pay off the full balance each month. The standard student budget allows for a moderate standard of living that does not include an allowance for revolving credit card payments. We can not increase the budget for consumer debt payments. All students are strongly encouraged to clear all of their consumer debt before entering law school, even if this means depleting assets to do so.

Using credit cards wisely will help you maintain a good credit record. Creditworthiness is a requirement for students seeking financing through supplemental education loans.

Tuition and Fee Refund Policy

The Law School's full policy regarding leaves and withdrawals, including the financial implications of taking a leave, are contained in the HLS Handbook of Academic Policies section on Leaves and Withdrawals.

Students who take a leave during the academic year are charged tuition for the period of enrollment, plus full insurance and health fees for the term in which the leave occurs.

For example: a student taking a leave in November will be charged tuition through the end of November, plus full Blue Cross/Blue Shield and University Health Services fees for the fall term, and the living expense budget will be adjusted to 3/9ths of the full budget based on a nine-month academic year beginning in September. Tuition is charged until the Registrar receives the leave of absence request form. Students who provide written notice of withdrawal by the dates listed below will be charged as follows:

Tuition Charges Related to Leaves and Withdrawals
DateTuition
September 301/9 total annual charges
October 312/9 total annual charges
November 303/9 total annual charges
December 314/9 total annual charges
January 315/9 total annual charges
February 286/9 total annual charges
March 317/9 total annual charges
April 308/9 total annual charges
after April 30Full Tuition

 

Once the student's e-bill has been adjusted, Student Financial Services will prorate any aid package based on enrollment, adjusted tuition, and fee information received from the Registrar’s Office, in accordance with both federal and institutional regulations. Students who take a leave during the academic year may be required to repay a portion of the financial aid award since cash advances/refunds are disbursed at the beginning of each term in anticipation that students will be enrolled for the entire term. Students receive written notice of any outstanding balance that results from a leave of absence and are responsible for payment in full prior to re-enrolling at the Law School.

Last modified: July 31, 2014

© 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.