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Harvard for free

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – According to the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, which has been in place since 2006, students who qualify for admission and gain acceptance to Harvard University, could attend free if their combined family income is less than $60,000.

In addition to covering tuition costs, the student and their family pays nothing for room and board, activity fees and health fees under the 2006 initiative.

Originally, the HFAI set the amount at $40,000 but bumped it up to $60,000 in 2006. Harvard announced a middle income initiative citing families earning less than $180,000 would only be required to pay up to 10 percent of their family’s income to attend.

“There is no more important mission for Harvard and higher education than promoting equality of opportunity for all,” said Harvard President Lawrence Summers. “We are fortunate to have significant resources, and there is no better way to use them than to support families seeking to provide the best possible opportunities for their children. These increases send a clear signal to middle class families who have all too often felt that Harvard and other leading universities are out of reach.”

Harvard University has continued to make a systematic effort to increase affordability and accessibility to qualified students from all backgrounds since 2004.

“We are firmly committed to all of our financial aid initiatives including the middle income initiative which was announced in December of 2007,” said Josh Poupore at the Harvard News Office.

"Harvard’s admission policy is ‘need-blind’ which means they don’t ask the student to fill out their financial aid application form until after they are accepted.If a student is accepted to Harvard, they can come if they want to; money need is not going to get in the way.” – Josh Poupore Harvard News Office




In light of difficult financial times, many college students may fear paying for college. However, not all is lost. Many universities now offer programs similar to Harvard.

And Harvard pays no attention to the financial well-being of any applicants.

“Harvard’s admission policy is ‘need-blind’ which means they don’t ask the student to fill out their financial aid application form until after they are accepted,” Poupore said. “If a student is accepted to Harvard, they can come if they want to; money need is not going to get in the way.”

This does not mean getting into Harvard will be easy. In 2009, Harvard’s Financial Aid Initiative led to the largest applicant pool of 22,796 for the approximate 1,600 student slots and the most competitive admission rate of 9.1 percent in the school’s history. However, the 2009 class will be the most economically diverse ever.

“The number of students we can accept because we are a 100 percent residential college is limited by the amount of dorm space we have. There is no intention to increase enrollment anytime in the future, so the enrollment is capped,” Poupore said.

Once accepted, Harvard takes into account multiple aspects of the students’ financial need.

“The admissions office takes into consideration the entire picture of your family’s financial situation. If you are one of 10 kids and you have several brothers and sisters in other colleges, that certainly comes into play,” he said.

“We are very pleased to offer such exceptional financial support to our undergraduates,” said William Kirby, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences. Even before these enhancements, the financial aid budget was projected at $90 million. Although many students and families might find this hard to believe, Harvard is actually more affordable for many students than public colleges or universities.”

Though gaining admission to Harvard remains competitive, the university gears its selection process toward a more rounded individual than a student who has a 4.0 grade point average.

For more information, call the Harvard College Financial Aid Office at (617) 495-1581.