Introduction to Financial Aid to New Students

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers a comprehensive program of financial support, including grants and fellowships from internal and external sources, traineeships, teaching fellowships, research assistantships, other academic employment opportunities, and several types of loans.

For PhD students, Harvard awards full financial support for at least five years, typically for the first four years of study as well as the completion year.

Across the disciplines, students are also encouraged to pursue opportunities to secure grants, fellowships, and other sources of external funding. Writing a winning fellowship or grant proposal is a cornerstone of professional development in the Graduate School, an essential skill that can bolster not only financial stability but academic success.
 

Overview of Financial Support

The financial aid program at GSAS provides an adequate living stipend and tuition, in order to make graduate school possible for academically qualified applicants.

Awards may include grants for living expenses, tuition, and fees, along with teaching fellowships or research assistantships, which are ordinarily available to second-year students in the natural sciences and to third- and fourth-year students in the humanities and social sciences. Teaching requirements and op­portunities vary widely from department to department.

International applicants should seek information at their universities about Fulbright grants and other grants and loans provided by their home governments. International ap­plicants are advised that US visa requirements state that sufficient funds must be available to support the student and all accompanying dependents.

Completion of the Supplemental Data Section of the online application is an important part of applying to the Graduate School, allowing the Office of Financial Aid to coordinate your funding package. This form should be completed whether or not you are applying for financial aid.

Financial support is always subject to a candidate maintaining satisfactory progress towards the degree.
 

Fellowship Opportunities

As part of the comprehensive program of support that GSAS offers its students, all applicants for admission are encouraged to apply for fellowships from organizations outside the University. Many GSAS students have achieved distinction as recipients of competitive non-Harvard awards, including the National Science Foundation, the Soros Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship Program. Please consult the GSAS Graduate Guide to Grants for a sample list of opportunities.

These awards — which represent significant professional achievements — are sponsored by both public and private agen­cies and often provide multi-year support that is more generous than that offered by the University.

If awarded an external fellowship, students are expected to accept it and inform the Graduate School. The Office of Financial Aid will determine the coordination of the outside award with the Harvard fellowship.

Grant Reference Books

The Graduate School revises and updates the Graduate Guide to Grants, which lists possible sources of support for graduate students. Advice on writing winning proposals can be found in Scholarly Pursuits.

Most libraries and career planning offices include useful publications, such as Grants for Graduate Students. In addition, faculty advisors are often helpful in suggesting funding sources appropriate to an applicant’s particular field of study. We suggest that you plan ahead as many fellowship application deadlines are in the early fall.

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships (FLAS)

Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships, funded by Title VI of the Higher Education Act and available to US citizens and permanent residents, support graduate training in modern foreign languages for those who wish to combine world area studies with an academic discipline. Eligible world areas are: East Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The FLAS application is available on our website and should be submitted separately with academic transcripts and a letter of recommendation to: FLAS Coordinator, Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center 350, 1350 Massa­chusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138. The application deadline is December 31, 2013.

National Science Foundation Fellowships

The National Science Foundation (NSF) offers graduate fellowships through a national competi­tion each year. Awards are made for study leading to research-based master’s or doctoral degrees in the mathematical, physical, biological, and social sciences, and in the history and philosophy of science. Eligibility is lim­ited to individuals who are US citizens, nationals, or permanent residents at the time of application. Contact: (866) 673-4737; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships

Minority applicants in the humanities and social sci­ences should seek information here: Ford Founda­tion Diversity Fellowships, National Research Coun­cil, 500 Fifth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001;

(202) 334-2872; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

GEM

The National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science (GEM) covers tuition and stipend, plus a summer internship at a participating company. Contact: The National GEM Consortium, 1430 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; (703) 562-3646; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowships

The National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program (NDSEG) is intended for students at or near the beginning of graduate study for doctoral degrees in mathematical, physi­cal, biological, chemical, and engineering sciences. It is open to US citizens and nationals of the United States. Contact: National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program, American Society for Engineering Education, 1818 N Street NW #600, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 649-3831; ndseg@asee. org.

National Physical Science Consortium Fellowships

The National Physical Science Consortium (NPSC) awards fellowships to US citizens for graduate study at participating NPSC institutions. Contact: NPSC, USC_RAN, 3716 S. Hope, Suite 348, Los Angeles, CA 90007-4344; (800) 854-6772; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
 

Loans

Admitted students who are interested in applying for Federal Loans and Federal Work-Study should contact the Office of Financial Aid.

Ford Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

  • $20,500 borrowing limit per year
  • Lifetime borrowing limit of $138,500 (including both Unsubsidized and Subsidized Ford Federal Direct Loans for both undergraduate and graduate education)
  • 5.41% annual interest rate
  • The borrower is responsible for interest that accrues while s/he is in school. While a student is in school, grace period or period of deferment, s/he may make interest payments or request the interest to be accrued.
  • 1.072% loan origination fee will be deducted from the face value of the loan
  • The loan is disbursed in two equal parts, typically once a semester.

You can read more about the Direct Unsubsidized Loan on the Federal Student Aid website.

Direct Grad PLUS Loan

  • No aggregate or annual limits on this loan.  The limit is dictated by the student’s cost of attendance.
  • 6.41% annual interest rate
  • This loan is unsubsidized.   The borrower is responsible for interest that accrues while s/he is in school.
  • There is no grace period for this loan.
  • The loan goes into repayment (and begins accumulating interest) 60 days after the second disbursement, but is deferrable throughout attendance of at least half-time study at a post-secondary institution.
  • 4.288% loan fee will be deducted from the face value of the loan
  • The loan is disbursed in two equal parts, typically once a semester.
  • Loan is contingent on a credit check

You can read more about the Direct Grad Plus Loan  on the Federal Student Aid website.

Federal Perkins Loan

The Federal Perkins Loan is a low-interest loan available to students who demonstrate the greatest financial need. Selection for this loan program is made by the financial aid office. Unfortunately, because Perkins Loan funds are limited, students are not guaranteed to receive funding from this program. Eligibility is determined from information provided on the FAFSA.

  • The maximum annual amount is $8,000 and varies according to need.
  • Aggregate loan limit is $60,000 (including undergraduate Perkins Loan borrowing)
  • 5% annual interest rate
  • This loan is subsidized.  The loan does not accrue interest while the student is in school.
  • 9 month Grace period
  • No origination fee
  • The loan is disbursed in two equal parts, typically once a semester.

You can read more about the Perkins Loan on the Federal Student Aid website.

Private Loans

Harvard has compiled information about private loans that are available for both US citizens and international students.

Federal Work-Study Program (FWSP)

The FWSP Program is a federally funded program that provides eligible students with employment opportunities in public and private nonprofit or­ganizations. Work-Study eligibility is determined by the Office of Financial Aid. It is the responsibility of the student to find a job once the Office of Financial Aid has established the student’s eligibility. 

Free Application for Federal student Aid (FAFSA)

A graduate student must file a FAFSA to apply for a Ford Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Direct Grad Plus Loan, Federal Perkins Loan, and the Federal Work-Study Program. The FAFSA is available online.

Veterans Benefits

Students who are eligible for veterans benefits need to submit their Certificate of Eligibility (which the student gets from the Department of Veterans Affairs) and a Notice of Student Enrollment to the GSAS Financial Aid Office in order to begin the process of receiving these benefits.

Please visit the GI Bill websiteand the Harvard Veterans Affairs & Military Education Benefits website for complete information.