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Budget/Cost of Attendance

Harvard Law School, as required by federal student aid rules, does not have a separate, fixed budget for married students or for students (married or single) with dependent children. The standard student budget ($88,600 in 2016-17) is the maximum base expense budget used for all students, whether married, married with children, single, or single with children. The standard student budget itself does not necessarily change just because a student is married. Instead, we use additional allowances against income when calculating the student contribution. See the Determination of Need section below.

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Determination of Need and Allowances Against Income

 

As with single students, Harvard Law School uses institutional need analysis parameters to meet full financial need for all married students and/or students with dependents. However, since married students and/or students with children often incur additional expenses related to supporting a family, we allow students with  families to allocate their resources towards meeting these many costs before assessing a contribution from a student’s total marital income. We do this by calculating allowances against income for these students. These allowances are, for the most part, standardized amounts for specific categories of expenses. They are based on the 12-month period beginning in June of the summer before a given academic year and running through the end of May of that academic year. Students who either get married or who experience the birth of a child during the course of the academic year will receive the same allowances pro-rated for the number of months between June and May that apply to their new circumstances.

The standard family allowances include

  • a basic living allowance meant to cover expenses such as food, housing, utilities etc.,
  • allowances for family health insurance and/or the family dental plan,
  • a working spouse allowance that protects a portion of the spouse’s earned income and addresses the additional expenses related to having a job (commuting, purchase and maintenance of professional clothing, etc.), and
  • an automobile allowance for students with children, or who are the custodial parent if divorced/separated

In addition to these standard allowances, we also consider granting increases to these allowances for out-of-pocket expenses such as

  • a spouse’s educational debt repayment (minimum required monthly payments only)
  • for working spouses, reasonable expenses for day care for pre-school aged children or after-school care for school-aged children (see chart below for monthly maximum allowances); these allowance do not extend to private school tuition for school-aged children
  • out-of-pocket tuition expenses (less any financial aid) for spouses who work and go to school part-time
  • 2nd residences where spouses are required to live apart for employment reasons

In these cases, we require more detailed expense documentation before granting an increase to the standard allowances against income that we would normally give.

The chart that follows provides an outline of the standard annual allowances for the 2014-2015 year. Understanding the difference between the standard student budget and allowances against income is very important in understanding how we determine financial aid eligibility for married students an/or students with dependents at Harvard Law School. For more examples, go here

CHART OF ALLOWANCES

Standard Allowances Spouse 1st Child Each Additional Child
Base Living Allowance(annual amounts listed) $14,400* $7,200 (married parents)$14,400 (single parent) $7,200 (married or single)
University Health ServicesStudent Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)**(annual amounts listed) $5,338 $8,140 (Spouse & 1 Child)$2,802 (1 Child but No Spouse) $9,550 (Spouse & Children)$4,212 (Children but No Spouse)
Family Dental Plan $1,000 (for 2013-2014, coverage ran from 10/1/13 through 7/31/14)
Working Spouse Income Allowance Allowance against spouse income up to a maximum $14,400 annually
Optional Allowances
2nd Residence Submit documentation showing monthly expenses for the second residence; indicate what portion of the academic year both residences must be maintained
Spouse’s Educational Debt Submit documentation showing minimum required monthly payments; indicate start and end dates of repayment
Child Care (for working spouses) Submit documentation in support of allowances up to these monthly maximums:

  • full-time child care for infants: $2,450
  • full-time child care for toddlers: $2,100
  • full-time child care for pre-school aged children: $1,650
  • full-time after school care: $450

Submit documentation in support of allowances up to these weekly maximums:

  • summer camp for school-aged children: $400
  • care during school vacations: $200
Spouse’s PT Tuition Submit documentation showing tuition costs and all related financial aid (including loans)
Automobile Allowance (for custodial parents) Maximum of $3,000/year if student is a custodial parent of a small child/children

*Students Married to Full-Time Students do not get this additional allowance. See Example 1 below.

**Student SHIP costs are accommodated in the standard student budget so they are not included above as an additional allowance. Married students who will have health insurance provided by their spouse’s employer have the option of waiving Harvard’s SHIP insurance by completing Harvard University Health Services’ online waiver form. Students who do this can receive an additional allowance based on the following formula: Annual Premium (student and eligible family members) – UHS’s SHIP (already built-in to student budget) = Additional Insurance Allowance. This basic formula also applies to students covered by Harvard but whose spouses and eligible family members are covered by the spouse’s insurance.

Any income remaining after all of the higher allowances have been excluded from income is considered available for assisting with the student’s educational expenses and is, therefore, included in the assessment of student contribution from income.

DETERMINING STUDENT CONTRIBUTION FROM INCOME FOR A MARRIED STUDENT OR STUDENT WITH DEPENDENTS

The student contribution from income for a married student/student with dependents is determined in three steps:

Step 1
Student Summer Income
plus Spouse Summer Income
plus Spouse 9-month Academic Year Income (September-May)
equals Total Gross Income
Step 2
Total Gross Income
minus Base Student Summer Allowance ($7,400 for Summer 2015)
minus Spouse Cost of Living Allowances (see chart above)
minus Children Cost of Living Allowances (see chart above)
minus Other Possible Allowances Given (see chart above)
minus Taxes
equals Net Earnings
Step 3
Net Earnings
multiplied by 90%
equals Student Contribution from Income

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Examples Using Different Familial Situations

Here are examples of different familial situations for married students and the types of impact that their spouses’ circumstances have on both the student’s contribution and budget. Each example is based on at 12-month budget. For demonstration purposes only, we assumed student income of $0, child care of $500/month, and auto costs of $150/month where appropriate.

A few notes on these calculations:

  • Spouse Base Allowance is compared to the spouse’s income. Since the function of this allowance is to protect the spouse’s income, in the cases where there are no children the total allowances will be capped at the amount of the spouse’s income, effectively  protecting all of the income without awarding additional aid on the basis of marital status. Please note: in families with non-working spouses and no children, no change is made in the Student Contribution or the student budget. Student and spouse must live within the single student budget.
  • Students with children will have a Dependent Care Allowance (DCA) calculated. If the DCA is negative this means that there is not enough income to cover family’s total living allowance so the absolute value of the DCA (the amount by which the income(s) in the student budget falls short) will be added to the student budget. This generally allows for additional grant eligibility and/or additional loan eligibility.
  • These calculations look only at the spouses’s foreseeable impacts on the HLS students’ assessed student contribution and student budget. For more information on the student’s side of the assessment, please see Student Contribution from Summer Income or Student Contribution from Assets.
  • Because the preliminary award package is subject to change during the Fall Update process, the preliminary award for students with child care expenses will automatically cap these allowances at a maximum of $12,000 for the first child and up to $6,000 for each additional child, regardless of the amount reported on the application. Once the required documentation is provided as part of the Fall Update process, we will use the real expenses, within our stated monthly and/or weekly caps. This is done to minimize the potential for a negative impact on the preliminary award.

Examples Using Different Familial Situations

Examples Using Different Familial Situations

  • EXAMPLE 1: STUDENT MARRIED TO ANOTHER FULL-TIME STUDENT, NO CHILDREN

    • Spouse Base Living Allowance: N/A
    • Dependent Insurance Allowance: N/A
    • Working Spouse Income Allowance: N/A
    • Child Care Allowance: N/A
    • Base Summer Living Allowance (student): $7,400

    When determining eligibility for Harvard Law School financial aid, the SFS policy treats HLS students with full-time student spouses exactly like single students in that we neither use the spouse’s income nor do we allow any additional spousal living expenses. Please note that only the income is excluded from the calculations: we require that all assets be reported regardless of whether they precede the marriage or are individually or jointly held by either spouse. We will use a percentage of the total value of all these assets held either individually or jointly by the incoming student and/or his/her spouse as described here. The percentage used is based on the aid policy in effect at the time of initial enrollment at HLS.

  • EXAMPLE 2: STUDENT WITH A NON-WORKING SPOUSE, NO CHILDREN

    • Spouse Base Living Allowance: $14,400
    • Dependent Insurance Allowance: $5,338
    • Working Spouse Income Allowance: N/A
    • Child Care Allowance: N/A
    • Base Summer Living Allowance (student): $7,400

    All the applicable allowances are added together to determine the Base Allowance: $14,400 + $5,338 + 0 + 0 + 0 + $7,400 = $27,138

    Although these allowance are calculated, there is no change to either the student contribution from income or the student’s budget (as explained here). Both the student and the spouse will have to live on the standard (single) student budget.

  • EXAMPLE 3: STUDENT WITH A WORKING SPOUSE (SALARY = $26,000), NO CHILDREN

      • Spouse Base Living Allowance: $14,400
      • Dependent Insurance Allowance: $5,338
      • Working Spouse Income Allowance: $14,400
      • Child Care Allowance: N/A
      • Base Summer Living Allowance (student): $7,400

      All the applicable allowances are added together to determine the Base Allowance: $14,400 + $5,338 + $14,400 + 0 + $7,400 = $41,538

      When these allowance are calculated in, there is no change to either the student contribution  from income or the student’s budget. As noted here, the student’s contribution from income is calculated two ways — as if the student were single and as if the student were married — and the higher contribution is used. Since the spouse’s allowances are capped at the spouse’s income, they do not serve to reduce the student’s contribution from income, only the spouse’s. Both the student and the spouse will have to live on the standard (single) student budget, plus the spouse’s earned income.

  • EXAMPLE 4: STUDENT WITH A WORKING SPOUSE (SALARY = $60,000), NO CHILDREN

    • Spouse Base Living Allowance: $14,400
    • Dependent Insurance Allowance: $5,338
    • Working Spouse Income Allowance: $14,400
    • Child Care Allowance: N/A
    • Base Summer Living Allowance (student): $7,400

    All the applicable allowances are added together to determine the Base Allowance: $14,400 + $5,338 + $1,800 + $14,400 + 0 + $7,400 = $41,538

    When these allowance are calculated in, the student contribution from income increases by about $6,720 due to the spouse’s income after allowances, but the student’s budget remains the same.

  • EXAMPLE 5: STUDENT WITH A NON-WORKING SPOUSE, 1 CHILD

    • Spouse + Child Base Living Allowance: $21,600
    • Dependent Insurance Allowance: $8,140
    • Auto Allowance: $1,800
    • Working Spouse Income Allowance: N/A
    • Child Care Allowance: N/A
    • Base Summer Living Allowance (student): $7,400

    All the applicable allowances are added together to determine the Base Allowance: $21,600 + $8,140 + $1,800 + 0 + 0 + $7,400 = $38,940

    When these allowance are calculated in, there is no change to the student contribution  from income. Because there is a child, a Dependent Care Allowance is calculated through our standardized financial aid software at $38,940, based on the difference between the student/spouse after-tax income and the total allowances. The DCA is added to the budget and increases grant and loan eligibility by that much.

  • EXAMPLE 6: STUDENT WITH A WORKING SPOUSE (SALARY = $60,000), 1 CHILD

    • Spouse + Child Base Living Allowance: $21,600
    • Dependent Insurance Allowance: $8,140
    • Auto Allowance: $1,800
    • Working Spouse Income Allowance: $14,400
    • Child Care Allowance: $6,000
    • Base Summer Living Allowance (student): $7,400

    All the applicable allowances are added together to determine the Base Allowance: $21,600 + $8,140 + $1,800 + 14,400 + $6,000 + $7,400 = $59,340

    When these allowance are calculated in, there is no change to the student contribution  from income. Because there is a child, a Dependent Care Allowance is calculated at $11,889, based on the difference between the student/spouse after-tax income and the total allowances. The DCA is added to the budget and increases grant and loan eligibility by that much. The DCA is lower here than in Example 4 because the spouse’s income is determined to be at a level that offsets the need for additional borrowing.