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The 2023-2024 Financial Aid Application process is not yet open for both new students admitted into the Class of 2026 and all continuing students. The application will open for newly admitted students on February 16. The application for continuing students will open in late March with a priority deadline of May 2.

Welcome to the HLS Financial Aid Application Process! We hope that our step-by-step approach will help you understand what is required when, and why. The timeline for the entire application process covers much of the calendar year, with various steps along the way. However, if at any point in the academic year, your resources change, you will need to report that change to SFS via the Adjustment Form found within the SFS Self-Service Portal so that SFS can determine if there needs to be a change in your financial aid eligibility for the academic year based on the new information. Since HLS administers a need-based aid program, eligibility may vary year to year, or even within an academic year if your circumstances change.

We have created a short informational video for admitted students which outlines the process of applying for financial aid. This overview video can be found on our web page video library.

Overview of the step-by-step application process

  • Timeline


    • Application opens for admitted students (Rolling throughout the spring and summer) – STEP 1.

    March and April

    • Application continues for admitted students.
    • Provisional Financial Aid Eligibility released to admitted students based on Target Dates – STEP 2.
    • Application opens for returning students in mid-March – STEP 1.
    • Returning student deadline to complete Step 1 is 5pm on April 28.



    • Admitted students set-up HARVARD KEY in order to be able to access the university’s billing system.
    • Admitted students start applying for any additional student loans needed for the academic year – STEP 3.


    • Returning students receive notification of their provisional financial aid eligibility – STEP 2.
    • Returning students start applying for any additional student loans needed for the academic year – STEP 3.
    • All students receive their first student account notification. The notification will include billed fall semester charges, and reflect any financial aid already secured for the fall term. If your financial aid does not finance the entirety of the billed charges, you will need to either make an e-payment or secure additional supplemental loans to cover the remaining balance in order to be financially cleared for the start of the semester.


    • All students will need to be financially cleared (no outstanding balance on student account) by August 15 in order to avoid a registration hold – STEP 4.
    • At the end of August, eligible students will receive cash advance direct deposits (or checks via mail) after registration if your anticipated financial aid credits exceed your fall billed charges – STEP 4.


    • All students submit disbursement documentation – STEP 5. This includes e-signing Federal Direct Unsubsidized and/or Harvard loan master promissory notes if application. It also includes completing an online Entrance Interview if you are utilizing federal student loans.
    • All students must submit updated financial aid application materials in order to update financial aid eligibility – STEP 5.


    • SFS reviews all updated information to determine any changes to financial aid eligibility.


    • All HLS Grant recipients receive email notification of your updated HLS financial aid eligibility, including HLS Grant eligibility and LIPP borrowing eligibility.
    • All Loan ONLY recipients receive email notification of your updated HLS financial aid eligibility, including LIPP borrowing eligibility.

    Special Note for Newly Admitted Transfer Students

    HLS Admissions typically does not begin to admit new transfer students until July of each calendar year. Newly admitted transfers students have a compressed time frame in which to go through all of the same application steps broken out above. We understand that this can create a stressful situation for you and it is our goal to work individually with each transfer student to expedite the application process and alleviate stress as much as possible. Please feel free to contact our office for advice and to talk about the process as needed once you receive an offer of Admission.

  • Step 1: Completing your preliminary application

    In STEP 1 you will submit the Student Application form, which will then create a personalized list of required documents for you to complete. If you apply for need-based aid and are under the age of 29 on or before September 1 of the academic year, the submission of the student application will also generate a required Parent Application (and supporting documentation). Once all of your requirements are received, we can begin reviewing your application to determine your provisional financial aid eligibility for the upcoming academic year.

  • Step 2: Reviewing and understanding your provisional financial aid eligibility

    Once we complete our review of your application, you will receive an email notification (on a rolling basis for admitted students and in July for returning students) with information about how to review and understand your provisional financial aid eligibility – STEP 2. We use the word provisional because your HLS financial aid eligibility is updated during the fall review process in October of each academic year. When you receive your provisional eligibility notification, review the information we provide and contact us with any questions.

  • Step 3: Understanding and applying for your loans

    STEP 3 will help you understand the various loan options available to you in order to secure the funding you need. We will outline both the details of the loans listed on your provisional financial aid eligibility, and your options for additional loan funding should you need to borrow up to the total of your student budget.

  • Step 4: Financial clearance and cash advance/refund

    In STEP 4, you will receive an email notice of your fall semester charges in July from Harvard University’s central Student Accounts Office. Make sure that your provisional financial aid is sufficient to cover your fall balance. If it’s not, you should plan to make an e-payment or apply for a supplemental education loan. If your anticipated financial aid credits exceed the total of your fall charges, you will be eligible for a fall cash advance that can be used for living expenses. Eligible students will need to set up direct deposit via their student account and will receive a direct deposit during the fall registration period.

  • Step 5: Updating your financial aid eligibility

    Financial aid eligibility for all students is updated during the STEP 5 fall review process in September and October of each academic year. In late August/early September we will send you a reminder of everything you will need to do to update your application and eligibility, including:

    • Submitting any remaining documentation still listed as outstanding in “Application Requirements” in the SFS Self Service Portal
    • Completing the Student Application Update Form in the SFS Self Service Portal
    • E-signing master promissory notes for any federal and institutional loans you may have
    • Completing an online financial aid entrance counseling session for any federal loans you may have

    After receiving all of this final documentation, we will review your file again, and notify you of any updates to your financial aid eligibility. Grant recipients should expect to receive their updated eligibility notification no later than November 1 of each academic year.