The financial aid program at Harvard Law School has two central goals: to help make a legal education accessible to every student in the J.D. program through need-based aid, and to preserve the broadest range of career options for graduates through need-based loan repayment assistance (the Low Income Protection Plan, or LIPP.)
In other words, Harvard Law School meets financial need both during students’ law school years and after graduation. HLS does not award merit aid (or “full-ride” scholarships, which are not typically need-based,) because doing so would decrease the resources available for need-based aid, and significantly increase the debt burden of every student with financial need.
In a need-based aid program, fairness and equity are cornerstone principles. Each student’s financial need is assessed through careful and methodical evaluation of uniform financial data. HLS is committed to helping every student formulate a workable financing plan.
HLS students have access to financial education programming designed specifically around their interests and goals, from one-on-one personal finance counseling to a comprehensive array of workshops and resources on money management. In partnership with AccessLex, we recognize the importance of establishing an open space for learning and aim to empower students in their decisions, ensuring that they are equipped to thrive financially from matriculation to graduation, and in life beyond HLS.
HLS awards need-based grant assistance to over 40% of the more than 1700 J.D. students enrolled each year. Starting with newly-admitted students in 2024-25, HLS launched the Opportunity Fund for those who demonstrate the highest financial need – an enhancement to the aid program that provides eligible students with funding for up to the full cost of tuition.
For costs not covered by an HLS Grant, students may consider avenues including education loans, external scholarships, student savings from summer employment or personal assets, student earnings from term-time employment, and family assistance.
It is possible for any student to finance the cost of a law degree entirely through education loans, regardless of financial need. Graduates who enter private law practice find that even a significant loan debt is manageable and represents a wise long-term education investment. The average annual education loan payment for recent graduates is about 15% of the annual income for those starting work in the private sector, and any J.D. graduate with eligible education loans can receive loan repayment assistance upon taking a lower-paying job that qualifies for LIPP.