The standard student budget establishes the annual limit on financial aid (grants and loans from all sources) available to each student under ordinary circumstances. The HLS Financial Aid Committee, which includes faculty, students and administrators, considers Bureau of Labor Statistics data in conjunction with local area rental rates and student-reported living expenses to arrive at a reasonable budget that allows for a moderate standard of living for all students.
Standard Student Budget (9-Month)
|Room/Board/Personal Allowance and Loan Fee||$26,472||$25,419|
|Mandatory HUHS Student Health Fee||$1,206 ($603/term): Residing in MA
$603 ($301.50/term): Outside of MA
|Waivable Harvard University Student Health Insurance Plan (HUSHP) Fee||$3,922||$3,700|
|Books and Supplies Allowance||$1,400||$1,375|
|Total Budget||$100,525: Residing in MA (All Year)
$99,922: Outside of MA (All Year)
- The Room/Board/Personal Allowance includes a $220 allowance for Federal Stafford Loan fees. For domestic and international students who do not borrow through the Federal Stafford Loan program, the Loan Fee portion of this allowance can be used to meet other personal expenses.
- As noted below, enrollment in the Harvard University Student Dental Plan is optional, and an allowance to cover the single-student cost of this plan (approximately $600 per year) is included in the Room/Board/Personal Allowance. For students who choose not to enroll in the dental plan, this portion of the allowance can be used to meet other personal expenses.
See below for more information on the Cost of Attendance and Student Budget policies.
Books and Supplies Expenses
The Financial Aid Committee anticipates that some first-year students will spend more than the allowance for books and supplies, because book costs for first year students are typically higher than those for second and third year students. Moreover, book costs for the first semester of the first year are typically higher than those for the second semester. The Committee believes that the Books and Supplies Allowance is sufficient to cover these costs for most first year students, but some students may find that they need to allocate some funds from their Room/Board/Personal allocation to meet their book and supply costs.
Personal Living Expenses
The nine-month Room/Board/Personal expense living allowance of $26,472 in the standard 2020-21 student budget works out to a monthly allowance of about $2,940, regardless of where the student will be living. We intentionally do not determine how this allowance money should be broken down across various expense categories. This is a highly personal decision, and we leave it to you to allocate this allowance among your living and other expenses based on your particular needs and priorities. Enrollment in the Dental Insurance plan is optional but recommended for HLS students, and students may choose to allocate a portion of the Room/Board/Personal allowance in the standard student budget toward enrollment in this plan. Fee-for-service dental options are also available through Harvard University Health Services Dental Services.
Waiver of Health Fees
The Mandatory UHS Student Health Fee is required as part of enrollment at Harvard, and covers most services at Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) with no copay. Waivers of the HUHS Student Health Fee are generally not available, except in very limited cases, as described at the bottom of this page on the HUHS website. For 2021-21, UHS will be charging different health fees depending on residency.
By Massachusetts state law, students must enroll in a qualifying student health insurance program or in a health plan of comparable coverage to provide hospital/specialty care. All students are automatically enrolled in the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) to provide this required level of insurance coverage. Students who document coverage under a comparable health insurance plan, such as a parent’s insurance plan, may be eligible to waive the Student Health Program enrollment and fee . The deadline to waive HUSHP coverage for 2020-21 without incurring a late fee is September 30. Harvard University Health Services provides an informative toolkit on the health care coverage options available to students through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including a comparison chart of important factors to consider when choosing health insurance coverage.
Under Federal student aid regulations, an allowance for the cost of the Harvard University Student Health Program may be included in the student’s budget only for students who enroll in the HUSHP plan. For students who waive this coverage, the allowance will not be given and the total student budget (and maximum level of financial aid eligibility) will be reduced by the amount of the HUSHP fee. Students may request upon appeal to have the documented cost of an alternate health insurance plan for which the student pays added to the student’s budget.
For more information, visit the Student Medical Expense Policies section of our website.
Married Students and Students with Dependents
Harvard Law School does not have a separate budget for married students or for single students with dependents. The same standard budget is used for all students. However, married students and students with dependents are afforded higher living allowances against income in the calculation of their student contribution from income. For more detailed information see the section Married Students and Students with Dependents.
Students occasionally incur unforeseen expenses during the year that may qualify for an increase in the standard budget listed above. Examples of allowable budget increases include higher travel expenses due to unforeseen family emergencies and un-reimbursed medical expenses. In order to request a budget increase, please
- Login to your SFS Portal
- Click on the “Financial Aid” drop-down
- Navigate to “Adjustment Form” at the bottom of the list
This form is academic year specific, so be sure to submit it for the appropriate academic year.
Whenever possible, you should also provide original receipts of your additional expenses directly to our office. Generally, should a budget increase be allowed, the increase would be met in the form of additional supplemental education loan assistance.
Budget Adjustments for Joint Degree Students
Joint degree students will not have the standard student budget during specified years of their program. Adjustments will be made to tuition, books and supplies, fee and/or allowances according to their joint program terms.
Budget Adjustments for Off-Campus Programs
Students who study in off-campus programs such as Berkeley Exchange, Study Abroad, Semester in Washington D.C. or The Program for Third Year Visits will not have the standard student budget. All adjustments will be based on their specific program of study according to the programs guidelines.
Student budgets may also be increased for the purchase of a computer. The maximum computer budget increase allowed is $2,000. Students may receive only one computer budget increase during their three years at Harvard Law School. The increase may include the cost of all approved hardware and software needed, as described on our Computer Loan Budget Increase Request section of our website. This budget increase will be met with Federal or supplemental education loan borrowing. We do not offer HLS need-based grant assistance to cover computer expenses.
While in school, students should use credit cards as minimally as possible. A credit card can be more convenient than using cash, but be wary of using credit cards unless you can pay off the full balance each month. The standard student budget allows for a moderate standard of living that does not include an allowance for revolving credit card payments. We can not increase the budget for consumer debt payments. All students are strongly encouraged to clear all of their consumer debt before entering law school, even if this means depleting assets to do so.
Using credit cards wisely will help you maintain a good credit record. Creditworthiness is a requirement for students seeking financing through supplemental education loans.
Tuition and Fee Refund Policy
The Law School’s full policy regarding leaves and withdrawals, including the financial implications of taking a leave, are contained in the HLS Handbook of Academic Policies section on Leaves and Withdrawals.
Students who take a leave during the academic year are charged tuition for the period of enrollment, plus full insurance and health fees for the term in which the leave occurs.
For example: a student taking a leave in November will be charged tuition through the end of November, plus full Harvard University Health Services and Harvard University Student Health Insurance Plan (if enrolled) fees for the fall term, and the living expense budget will be adjusted to 3/9ths of the full budget based on a nine-month academic year beginning in September. Tuition is charged until the Registrar receives the leave of absence request form. Students who provide written notice of withdrawal by the dates listed below will be charged as follows:
Tuition Charges Related to Leaves and Withdrawals
Date Tuition September 30 1/9 total annual charges October 31 2/9 total annual charges November 30 3/9 total annual charges December 31 4/9 total annual charges January 31 5/9 total annual charges February 28 6/9 total annual charges March 31 7/9 total annual charges April 30 8/9 total annual charges after April 30 Full Tuition
Once the student’s student account has been adjusted, Student Financial Services will prorate any aid package based on enrollment, adjusted tuition, and fee information received from the Registrar’s Office, in accordance with both federal and institutional regulations. Students who take a leave during the academic year may be required to repay a portion of the financial aid award since cash advances/refunds are disbursed at the beginning of each term in anticipation that students will be enrolled for the entire term. Students receive written notice of any outstanding balance that results from a leave of absence and are responsible for payment in full prior to re-enrolling at the Law School.