There are many housing options available to Harvard Law School students: on-campus (HLS residence halls and apartments), Harvard University Housing (Harvard-Owned 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. For 2016-17, the 9-month (Sept – May) budget for Room/Board/Personal expenses is approximately $2,470/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?
- On-Campus Housing (Residence Halls)
- Harvard University Housing
- Off-Campus Housing
- Special Considerations (Start Up Costs, Summer 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 living expense budget to housing. In a recent budget survey, this was the average amount spent by HLS student respondents. Students should be wary 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 the student budget.
To break it down a bit further, a student who spends 60% of the Room/Board/Personal allowances budget on housing has about $32/day remaining to cover all other living expenses. This $32/day must cover not only food and outside utilities (internet, cell phone, data plan, etc.), but laundry, wardrobe, entertainment, personal costs, start up costs to establish a new household (security deposit, furniture, appliances, etc.) or other household costs, local travel expenses (public transit and/or automobile expenses), enrollment in the University Dental Blue plan (which is optional), any personal loan or credit card payments, and anything else not expressly covered by rent payments.
Some students do not realize until it is too late that they have allocated too much of their budget to housing and too little remains to cover other expenses. 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 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 $7,362 to $15,557 per student for the 9-month 2016-17 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 $12,618 to $18,245 per student for the 9-month 2016-17 academic year.
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 = $818, OR about 33% of the monthly living budget of $2,470
- Highest monthly rent = $1,606, OR about 70% of the monthly living budget of $2,470
- HLS APARTMENTS: 1637 Massachusetts Ave/3 Mellen Street/5 Mellen Street
- Lowest monthly rent = $1,402, OR about 57% of the monthly student budget of $2,470
- Highest monthly rent = $2,027, OR about 82% of the monthly student budget of $2,470
Please note than although all of these options are available to HLS students, the rent prices are not necessarily set with the HLS student living expense budget in mind. It is each student’s responsibility to determine whether the rent will be affordable. If you need help determining this, SFS is always glad to help. Please contact your financial aid officer with any questions.
For more details about on-campus housing options, please refer to the page on Harvard Law School On-Campus Housing. Please contact the HLS Housing Office with questions by calling 617-495-1880, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or stopping by room WCC 3039.
Students who prefer apartment-style living have the option of applying to live in Harvard University Housing. These apartments also offer convenience of proximity to campus, rent inclusive of utilities, and no broker’s fees or other standard fees except for a refundable security deposit.
Harvard University Housing charges market rates for its rental units and are not subsidized in any way. These rates are determined independently of the HLS (or any other Harvard school’s) student expense budget.
There is an HLS block of Harvard University Housing at Terry Terrace and 29 Garden Street. The per student (per bedroom) rent charges for a two-bedroom apartment currently range from $1,272/month to $1,297/month and are subject to change. Generally speaking, students planning to live in Harvard University Housing should plan to have a roommate. Studio and one-bedroom HUH apartments are priced above a rate that is manageable under the HLS student expense budget.
- HUH HOUSING: 29 Garden/Terry Terrace
- Lowest monthly rent = $1,272 per student (with roommate), OR about 52% of the monthly student budget of $2,470
- Highest monthly rent = $1,350, OR about 55% of the monthly student budget of $2,470
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). Generally speaking, students planning to live in off-campus housing should plan to have a roommate. Studio and one-bedroom off-campus apartments are typically priced above a rate that is manageable under the HLS student expense budget.
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 months’ rent, security deposits, brokers’/realtors’ fees, or other deposits or fees associated with securing housing. Students should plan to pay these fees from funds they have allocated from the standard student expense budget.
- 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.
Attn: Student Housing Coordinator
Harvard Law School Dean of Students Office
1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Student Financial Services
HLS Student Financial Services
Attn: JD Financial Aid
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 = Michelle Schultz Woods