The information on this page is intended to help you understand the financial aspects of your housing options while a student at HLS. Additional information about housing may be found on the HLS Housing webpage.
Careful consideration of your housing decisions and their financial consequences at the beginning of the moving process are likely to pay off in the long-term in lowered stress levels and a more pleasant and productive HLS experience. There are many housing options available to Harvard Law School students: on-campus (HLS residence halls and apartments), Harvard University Housing (Harvard-Owned Real Estate apartments), and off-campus (privately owned and operated living situations). Each option carries its own set of pros and cons in relation to start up and monthly costs, location, and amenities. Whichever option you choose, we strongly recommend that you thoroughly work through the various impacts your decision will have.
The HLS JD Student Budget is designed to accommodate a moderate style of living. For 2023-24, the 9-month budget for Housing/Food/Personal Expenses is approximately $3,165/month. (Please note that the 9-month academic year in this calculation does not include the 3-month summer working period.) For most of our students, living within this budget normally means living in one of the more economical HLS dorms, or finding a roommate situation where rent and housing expenses are shared with at least one other person.
How Much Rent is Too Much Rent?
In general, HLS students find that housing takes up the single largest part of their living budget. We recommend that students plan to commit no more than $1,900 per month towards housing. This is the average cost of both on and off-campus housing options available based on market information. Students should be wary of committing more than $1,900 per month to housing costs, especially if they do not have access to any other resources except the student budget.
To break it down a bit further, a student who spends $1,900 of the Housing/Food/Personal Expenses portion of the student budget on housing has about $42/day remaining to cover all other living expenses. This $42/day must cover not only food and outside utilities (internet, cell phone, data plan, etc.), but laundry, wardrobe, entertainment, personal costs, start up costs to establish a new household (security deposit, furniture, appliances, etc.) or other household costs, local travel expenses (public transit and/or automobile expenses), enrollment in the University Dental Blue plan (which is optional), any personal loan or credit card payments, and anything else not expressly covered by rent payments.
Some students do not realize until it is too late that they have allocated too much of their budget to housing and too little remains to cover other expenses. If you have questions or concerns about budgeting, please contact your financial aid officer and we can provide you with some tools to help you get started.
On-Campus Housing (Residence Halls and HLS Apartments)
On-Campus housing offers several conveniences: proximity, fully-furnished dorm rooms, rent inclusive of utility bills, and no deposit/broker’s fees. The two types of on-campus housing are:
- The on-campus residence halls consist of the Gropius Complex, Hastings Hall, and North Hall.
- The range of rents runs from $8,038 to $19,234 per student for the 9-month 2023-24 academic year.
- The HLS apartments are made up of 1637 Massachusetts Avenue, 3 Mellen, and 5 Mellen Street all located in Cambridge.
- The range of rents runs from $15,390 to $22,257 per student for the 9-month 2023-24 academic year.
Please note, the rent prices are not necessarily set with the HLS Room/Board/Personal allowance in mind. It is each student’s responsibility to determine whether the rent will be affordable. If you need help determining this, SFS is always glad to help. Please contact your financial aid officer with any questions.
Please contact the HLS Housing Office with questions by calling 617-496-6054 or emailing email@example.com .
Harvard University Housing (HUH)
Students who prefer apartment-style living have the option of applying to live in Harvard University Housing. These apartments also offer the convenience of proximity to campus, rent inclusive of utilities, and no broker’s fees or other standard fees except for a refundable security deposit.
Harvard University Housing charges market rates for its rental units and are not subsidized in any way. These rates are determined independently of the HLS (or any other Harvard school’s) student expense budget so it is imperative for each student’s to personally determine whether the rent will be affordable given their personal circumstances.
The rent charges for a two-bedroom apartment in the HLS area currently range from roughly $2,900/month to $3,800/month, with rents split evenly among roommates. Generally speaking, students planning to live in Harvard University Housing should plan to have a roommate. Studio and one-bedroom HUH apartments are typically priced above a rate that is manageable under the HLS student expense budget. You are able to review the HUH properties and their rates on their website.
The HLS Housing Office hosts a comprehensive discussion on the many considerations of off-campus housing here. Costs/factors to consider when deciding where to live include, but are not limited to, rent, utilities, start-up costs, location, roommates, realtors/brokers fees, and summer subletting options (see next section). Generally speaking, students planning to live in off-campus housing should plan to have a roommate. Studio and one-bedroom off-campus apartments are typically priced above a rate that is manageable under the HLS student expense budget.
Special Considerations (Start Up Costs, Summer Rent)
SFS receives a number of housing-related funding questions from 1Ls and Transfer students who are relocating, and from current students who are making summer preparations. These are the most common areas of concern:
- Start Up Costs: SFS cannot adjust the standard student budget to accommodate relocating students’ start up expenses. These expenses include first and last months’ rent, security deposits, brokers’/realtors’ fees, or other deposits or fees associated with securing housing. Students should plan to pay these fees from funds they have allocated from the standard student expense budget.
- Summer Rent: We cannot adjust the summer living allowance to accommodate two summer rent payments. This means that students should take care that their apartment leases or rental agreements have provisions that allow them to sublet during the summer months should their summer employment not be in the Boston area. If a student is unable to sublet their apartment for the summer, that student will be responsible for both rent payments. Students who are considering renting from HUH should take special care to make sure they fully understand the HUH subletting options and requirements. HUH provides a “sublet kit” to assist tenants with the processing of subletting their apartment to other qualified Harvard affiliates.
18 Everett Street
Student Financial Services
1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: (617) 495-4606