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Award Packages

General Award Packaging Procedures (Base Loan Concept)

The Financial Aid Program at Harvard Law School is composed of Harvard grant assistance; loans from federal, institutional and private sources; and federal work-study funding that is primarily available to fund our Summer Public Interest Funding program.

In 2011–12 approximately 82% of J.D. students received some form of assistance through Student Financial Services in order to meet their education expenses. All of our institutional grant assistance is need-based and awarded solely on the basis of family financial strength. We offer no merit assistance of any kind and therefore we cannot match merit awards from other schools. 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.

Although HLS grant funding can be generous for students with high financial need, the school's annual grant budget covers only about 11% 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, then, financial assistance comes in the form of loans. Most students qualify for Federal Stafford Loans and there are many supplemental education loan sources available to meet educational expenses. Combined funding from these two 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.

In 2011-2012, approximately 50% of J.D. student aid applicants (about 44% of J.D students overall) qualified for Law School grant assistance and a "base loan package" (explained below), while the remaining 50% received assistance in the form of loans only (Federal 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 $75,800 for 2012–13.

If a student’s demonstrated need is less than the base loan ($40,300 for 2011–12), the student is eligible for Federal 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, Harvard Loans, or Perkins Loans.

If demonstrated need exceeds the base loan ($42,200 for 2012-13), the student is eligible for grant aid and a base loan package.

For grant recipients, the first portion of need is always met with a base loan package. The base loan may consist of a combination of Federal Stafford, Perkins, Harvard, and supplemental loan funds. For international students (those who are not eligible for U.S Federal Loans), the federal 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.

Any remaining need beyond the base loan amount is met with institutional grant aid. Grant eligibility is always capped at the rate of tuition, or $49,950 for 2012–13. Students with dependent children whose expenses create a grant need in excess of the rate of tuition will receive a subsidized HLS loan to meet that amount of additional need.

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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 ($42,200 for 2012–13)
50% of those on aid received only loans (Federal Direct, Private &/or Harvard Loans)

Determination of Need:

 Student Budget:$ 75,600
LessStudent Contribution:$ 5,000 *
LessParent Contribution:$ 35,000 *

EqualsFinancial Need$ 35,800


Financial Aid Offer:
Federal Direct Loan: $ 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 $75,800.

Average Grant Recipient

Financial need is greater than base loan ($42,200 for 2012–13)

Determination of Need:

 Student Budget:$ 75,800
LessStudent Contribution:$ 5,000 *
LessParent Contribution:$ 9,000 *

EqualsFinancial Need$ 61,800


Financial Aid Offer:
Base Loan: $ 42,200
HLS Grant: $ 19,600
Base Loan of $42,200 typically consists of a combination of Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Harvard Loans, and supplemental loans, depending on availability. Note: Only grant recipients receive Perkins Loans and Harvard Loans, if available.
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 $75,800.

* 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: April 17, 2014

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