There are some basic differences in how we determine financial need for students who have dependent children and/or are married. For married students, it is Harvard Law School’s policy to assume that the full earnings and resources of the spouse will be available to help meet both basic family living expenses and, if income is substantial enough, to help contribute toward the cost of the student’s legal education. Married students and students with dependents are not automatically considered independent of their parents; unless they qualify for independence based on age, an assessed parent contribution will be calculated.

Married students without dependents

The financial need of married students without dependents is evaluated in much the same way as it is for single students. Under the rules of the Higher Education Amendments of 1992, living expenses for spouses cannot be added to the Standard Student Budget. Instead, standard allowances for moderate annual living expenses are deducted from the student’s and spouse’s combined 12-month income from employment in determining the amount of the Assessed Student Contribution from income. No assistance is provided by the HLS financial aid program to cover living expenses of non-working spouses of students who do not have dependent children. If an HLS student’s spouse is also enrolled full time in an academic program, the HLS student will be evaluated as a single student for financial aid purposes.

Please review the policy section of our website for more detailed information regarding financial aid for married students.

Students with dependents (both married and single)

For students with dependents, standard allowances for family expenses are given against all income earned by the student (and spouse) during the twelve-month year from the June preceding enrollment at HLS to the end of the following May. If the sum of these allowances exceeds the student’s (and spouse’s) available income after taxes, the resulting shortfall can be added to the Standard Student Budget as a Dependent Care Allowance, and this will result in an increased financial need. However, no allowances against income will be made to cover the expenses of a non-working spouse, unless the spouse is caring for at least one pre-school aged child. For students with working spouses, documented daycare costs can also be added to the allowances against income, thereby increasing the Dependent Care Allowance.

Please review the policy section of our website for more detailed information regarding financial aid for students with dependents.