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Students who are seeking financial assistance at Harvard Law School should plan to contribute all of their own personal resources toward meeting educational expenses before the Law School will provide any of its own financial assistance. Married students, or students expecting or planning to be married at any point during the school year, are expected to report all gross income(s) earned by either themselves and/or their spouse (or spouse-to-be) when applying for financial aid at Harvard Law School. The Law School’s policy is to assume that the full earnings and resources of the spouse/spouse-to-be will be available to help meet both basic family living expenses and, if substantial enough, to help contribute towards the cost of the student’s legal education.

In addition, while the federal government considers all graduate students to be independent of their parents when determining eligibility for federal loan assistance, Harvard Law School always considers parent resources when determining eligibility for its need-based institutional grant and loan funds. There is an exception to this policy for students who turn 29 on or before September 1 of the academic year for which they are applying for aid.

The policies used by SFS in regards to student income, student assets and parent resources are the same for both married and single students, with the exception that spouse income and assets are included in the student calculation. Further information about the general policies may be found using these links:

Considerations specific to the income and assets of students who are married

  • Income Used

    For students who are legally married, the following income is used to determine the Student Contribution from Income:

    • The HLS student’s gross income (the summer prior to the academic year)
    • The spouse’s gross annual income (the summer prior to the academic year & the academic year: June 1 – May 31)
    • Any other household income sources (ex: capital gains, dividends, bonuses, paid military veterans benefits, Social Security income, child support, etc.)
  • Spouse Income Protection: For students who are married without kids

    In acknowledgement of the expenses associated with maintaining a job, HLS protects a standard amount of a spouse’s income when determining HLS Grant eligibility. Additionally, there are protections that can be requested based on the specific expenses paid by the student’s spouse listed below. The Spouse Income Protections will always be capped at the spouse’s income (and cannot be used to lower the student’s available income). For students without children, the standard spouse income protection is higher than students with children because the student budget remains the same as a single student.

    Income Protection Type Income Protection Amount Process for Requesting the Protection
    Standard Spouse Income Protection $30,000 This is automatically included in any award sent to you.
    Spouse Residence Outside of Cambridge Based on your spouse’s rent/mortgage payment; Always capped at $2,000 per month The spouse must be working and living at this residence full-time without the student to request this protection. Requests may be made for the 12-month period from June – May.You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and proof of your spouse’s rent/mortgage payment during the Update Process. This request may only be submitted between September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.
    Required Spouse Educational Loan Payments Based on the monthly required payment amount The spouse must be working and be in active repayment of their student loans to request this protection. Protections are based on the required monthly payment amount and do not include any optional payments towards the principle. Requests may be made for the 12-month period from June – May.You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and documentation of your spouse’s student loan required monthly payment amount and payment history during the Update Process. This request may only be submitted between September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.
    Out-Of-Pocket Spouse Tuition Expenses for Part-Time Enrollment Based on the specific out of pocket tuition cost paid by your spouse for the academic year for part-time studies; Does not include any cost covered by financial aid The spouse must be working and have out of pocket tuition costs to request this protection.You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and proof of your spouse’s out-of-pocket tuition expenses during the Update Process. This request may only be made from September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.
    Spouse or Family Health Insurance Based on the specific monthly premiums for Health, Eye, and Dental insurance paid by your spouse; Always capped at the Harvard Health Insurance rates. Requests may be made for the 12-month period from June – May. 

    You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and documentation of your spouse’s out-of-pocket Health Insurance premiums during the Update Process. This request may only be submitted from September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.

  • Spouse Income Protection: For students who are married with kids

    In acknowledgement of the expenses associated with maintaining a job, HLS protects a standard amount of a spouse’s income when determining HLS Grant eligibility. Additionally, there are protections that can be requested based on the specific expenses paid by the student’s spouse listed below. The Spouse Income Protections will always be capped at the spouse’s income (and cannot be used to lower the student’s available income). For students with children, the standard spouse income protection is lower than students without children because the student budget is increased for students with children.

    Income Protection Type Income Protection Amount Process for Requesting the Protection
    Standard Spouse Income Protection $15,000 This is automatically included in any award sent to you.
    Spouse Residence Outside of Cambridge Based on your spouse’s rent/mortgage payment; Always capped at $2,000 per month The spouse must be working and living at this residence full-time without the student to request this protection. Requests may be made for the 12-month period from June – May. 

    You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and proof of your spouse’s rent/mortgage payment during the Update Process. This request may only be submitted between September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.

    Required Spouse Educational Loan Payments Based on the monthly required payment amount The spouse must be working and be in active repayment of their student loans to request this protection. Protections are based on the required monthly payment amount and do not include any optional payments towards the principle. Requests may be made for the 12-month period from June – May. 

    You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and documentation of your spouse’s student loan required monthly payment amount and payment history during the Update Process. This request may only be submitted between September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.

    Out-Of-Pocket Spouse Tuition Expenses for Part-Time Enrollment Based on the specific out of pocket tuition cost paid by your spouse for the academic year for part-time studies; Does not include any cost covered by financial aid The spouse must be working and have out of pocket tuition costs to request this protection. 

    You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and proof of your spouse’s out-of-pocket tuition expenses during the Update Process. This request may only be made from September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.

    Childcare Expenses Based on the specific cost for each child; There are no protections for private school tuition for school-aged children. However, there are protections for after-school and school vacation/summer care for school-aged children. 

    Monthly maximums based on the age of the child:

    • full-time child care for infants: $2,900
    • full-time child care for toddlers: $2,400
    • full-time child care for pre-school aged children: $1,900
    • full-time after school care for school aged child: $600

    Weekly maximums for school-aged children when school is not in session:

    • summer camp for school-aged children: $500
    • care during school vacations: $200
    The spouse must be working and have out of pocket childcare costs to request this protection. 

    You must request this protection by submitting the Adjustment Form and proof of your child’s expenses during the Update Process. This request may only be made from September 1 – April 15 of the academic year.

    Documentation must include following for each child’s childcare provider:

    • the child’s name
    • the daycare’s name
    • the date of service/care period
    • the weekly or monthly cost
    • the proof of payment from your household
  • Students Married to Full-Time Students

    WITHOUT CHILDREN

    HLS students who are married to full-time students (who are working part-time or not at all) are evaluated exactly like a single student when determining eligibility for Harvard Law School financial aid. We assume that the student’s spouse is applying for financial aid at their own degree-granting institution and that the spouse’s own institution will provide all of the funding necessary to both pay educational and living expenses. We do not factor in any part-time income earned by the spouse who is a full-time student nor do we allow any additional living expenses for the spouse.

    If the spouse is working a full-time job in addition to the full-time enrollment in school, we will factor in both the income and school expenses. Please reach out to your financial aid officer to discuss this particular scenario’s impact on your HLS Grant eligibility.

    WITH CHILDREN

    If an HLS student is married to a full-time student (who is working part-time or not at all), we do not factor in any part-time income and therefore there are no income protections to make. We assume that the student’s spouse is applying for financial aid at their own degree-granting institution and that the spouse’s own institution will provide all of the funding necessary to both pay educational and living expenses for themselves. We do realize that there are additional expenses for the child/children so considerations for those expenses are made within the student budget (see that section within this webpage).

    If the spouse is working a full-time job in addition to the full-time enrollment in school, we will factor in both the income and school expenses. Please reach out to your financial aid officer to discuss this particular scenario’s impact on your HLS Grant eligibility.

  • Asset Considerations

    Married students are asked to report the value of all assets whether held individually by student or spouse, or jointly, when applying for financial aid at Harvard Law School. It is our policy to add up the total value of all asset types and then factor in 75% of that total value into the calculation of an asset contribution for the HLS student. Because the student is married, 25% of the total assets are protected from the calculations.

    In addition, a standardized amount is automatically set aside from the calculations as an emergency reserve allowance. This allowance protects a certain portion of the student’s assets in case of unexpected need. The allowance is adjusted upwards to account for a spouse and/or dependents.

    If an HLS student marries during his or her studies here, we ask that all assets (student’s and spouse’s) are re-reported. Since it is our policy not to award additional aid on the basis of marital status, we will not lower asset amounts on the basis of marriage. If a student marries during the academic year, we will pro-rate any financial package adjustments based on the month that the marriage takes place (i.e., 5 months single + 7 months married = full year package.)