At Harvard, Expect High Tuition But Generous Aid (2023)

What Does Harvard Actually Cost?

To most people, the term Ivy League refers to a group of academic institutions, conjuring up images of elitism, selectivity, and academic excellence. What they may not know, though, is that it's also an athletic conference in which these private schools participated. This group consists of Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Princeton, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, and Harvard. Attending one of these schools is a dream for many, with Harvard being a big contender on many students' lists.

Founded in 1636, Harvard is the country’s oldest post-secondary institution and is the alma mater of many noteworthy figures, including a number of U.S. presidents and Nobel Laureates.But how much does it cost to attend? You may be surprised to find that financial aid can significantly reduce the hefty price tag associated with getting an education at an Ivy League school. Read on to find out what studying at Harvard really costs.

Key Takeaways

  • Attending Harvard costs $52,659 in tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year. Including room and board, the total is $76,763.
  • The school provides lucrative financial aid packages to many of its students through its large endowment fund.
  • Most students whose families make less than $65,000 attended Harvard for free in the most recent academic year.
  • The cost to attend Harvard is less than a state school for 90% of students.
  • Harvard graduates with only an undergraduate degree can earn as much as $146,800 by mid-career.

Understanding Harvard's Costs

For many top students, a Harvard degree is about more than just a social cachet. In fact, it's often the ticket to a great-paying job. That’s good news because a stint at Harvard doesn’t always come cheap.

(Video) The TRUTH behind Harvard financial aid 🎓💰

The standard tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year is $52,659 without any financial aid, up from $51,143 a year earlier. Room and board and other fees bring the total price tag to a hefty $76,763, up from $74,528 the previous year. That’s pricey even by private school standards. The average cost of a private, non-profit, four-year institution nationally is $32,410, according to the College Board. The average for tuition and room and board combined was $48,510.

Plentiful Financial Aid

One of the benefits of a uniquely successful alumni pool is that many give back to the school and make it easier for low- and middle-income students to attend the institution. The school’s endowment, which was reported to be $53.2 billion as of the 2021 fiscal year, helps make it possible to offer generous financial aid packages to those in need.

Attending Harvard costs the same or less than a state school for roughly 90% percent of families with students enrolled. According to the university, more than half of the students enrolled at Harvard receive need-based scholarships.

Household income determines how much families are required to contribute to the cost of education at Harvard. As of the 2022-2023 school year:

  • Families with a household income below $75,000 aren't required to make any contribution to students' educational costs.
  • Students from families that make between $75,000 and $150,000 typically have to kick in between 0% and 10% of their family income.
  • Those who come from families making slightly more also receive considerable financial support from the school.

The average grant disbursed per student was more than $53,000. Meanwhile, out-of-pocket costs for students who had to pay amounted to $12,000.

The university says that its admissions process is entirely need-blind. If you come from a lower-income family and are eligible to receive a sizable financial aid package, you theoretically have the same chance of admission as someone from a wealthier family. While international students cannot receive federal financial aid awards, they are eligible for university funds, which can help alleviate the cost of attending the institution.

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Big Dividends Down the Road

A Harvard education is, by nearly any measure, an amazing investment even when you factor out the financial aid you may receive. For many employers—including some Wall Street banks and prominent consulting firms—having the school on a resume offers an enormous leg up on the competition. According to a 2018 survey by the school newspaper, more than half of those graduating expected to earn $70,000 or more in their first year on the job. That's well above the average college graduate who earned $51,000 in 2017.

Here's another important fact. Attending Harvard leads graduates to valuable connections as their careers unfold, allowing them to sustain their success. PayScale's College Salary Report suggested Harvard graduates are among the top earners nationally when it comes to salary at the midpoint of their careers. Graduates who only have an undergraduate degree have median earnings of $147,700 at the mid-career mark, with Harvard ranking sixth in the country in that category. The median income increases to $159,400 by mid-career for those with a graduate degree. Keep in mind that earnings fluctuate based on a graduate's job and type of degree.

PayScale also ranks American universities based on their 20-year return on investment (ROI). Harvard took the 19th spot, even before factoring in financial aid. When you factor in getting financial aid and compare Harvard graduates only to those from private colleges and those paying out-of-state tuition at public universities, it jumps to the sixth position with a median 20-year net payout of $1,014,000.

Harvard's Demographics and Diversity Issues

According to the school's website, Harvard is committed to diversity. Home to students from more than 100 different countries, Harvard states that it aims to register diverse individuals with different backgrounds, beliefs, and financial situations. The ethnicities of the admitted class of 2025 were broken up as follows:

Harvard Admissions Statistics by Ethnicity

(Video) HIGHER EDUCATION TODAY - Harvard Admissions

But the school has come under fire for what some allege is a discriminatory admissions process. A student advocacy group called Students for Fair Admissions filed a lawsuit against the school in 2014, alleging that Harvard's admissions process was race-based and discriminated against Asian Americans. Both the lower court and the federal appeals court that presided over the case found that the school's practices were not discriminatory.

Drew Gilpin Faust, who was president of Harvard in 2016, created a task force to address diversity issues at the school, including gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. The report made a series of recommendations such as the hiring of diverse staff, improved mentoring, and departmental plans to advance inclusion.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Harvard University for 4 Years?

A four-year undergraduate degree program at Harvard University costs around $200,000 without room and board or any other fees. Financial aid can significantly cut down the out-of-pocket expenses for those who qualify and need it the most.

How Much Is Harvard Tuition 2021?

The tuition for the 2021-22 academic year at Harvard is $51,143, up from $49,653 in 2020-21.

(Video) Why Is Harvard So Expensive?

How Much Financial Aid Will I Get at Harvard?

The amount of financial aid you receive depends on your household income. Harvard states that the average grant exceeds $53,000 per student.

Is Harvard Ever Free?

The university states that one of its main goals is to be more affordable and doesn't require students to take out loans to fund their education. Students whose household income falls between $75,000 and $150,000 usually contribute between 0% and 10% of their annual income toward costs. Anyone with a household income above that threshold may still qualify for financial aid. Those whose incomes are below $75,000 won't pay anything.

Can You Get Into Harvard With Money Alone?

The Harvard admissions process is need-blind, which means having money doesn't necessarily mean you'll be accepted to the school. Harvard has a generous financial aid program that is need-based, meaning a lack of money won't prevent you from attending.

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The Bottom Line

Harvard may have one of the country’s highest tuition rates, but many students pay far less—thanks to a hefty endowment and strong financial aid program. Regardless, research suggests that an education at this illustrious school is a terrific long-term investment.


Is Harvard generous with financial aid? ›

If your family's income is less than $75,000, you'll pay nothing. Families who earn more than $150,000 may still qualify for financial aid. For more than ninety percent of American families, Harvard costs less than a public university. All students receive the same aid regardless of nationality or citizenship.

Can students attend Harvard even if they Cannot afford it financially? ›

Because we want to bring the best people to Harvard regardless of their financial circumstances, we follow two important principles: Need-blind admissions. Your financial need and your aid application will never affect your chance of being admitted to Harvard.

Which university is the most generous with financial aid? ›

The 50 colleges that offer the most student aid
RankCollegeStudents receiving need-based aid
1Columbia University2,973
2Yale University2,732
3Williams College1,014
4Amherst College1,066
46 more rows
Oct 29, 2018

Which Ivy is most generous with financial aid? ›

Princeton University

Princeton University is the highest scoring Ivy League to make the top ten list of universities with the best financial aid packages.

Who is the biggest donor to Harvard? ›

Harvard University has received one of its largest private gifts in history - $350 million from billionaire entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss, for the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Has Harvard ever given a full ride scholarship? ›

Can you get a full scholarship to Harvard? Harvard does not offer any merit-based aid, and no full-ride scholarships. However, they do meet 100% of students' demonstrated financial need. So, if you have high need, such as an auto-zero EFC on the FAFSA, you might qualify for almost a full ride.

Does Harvard only accept straight A students? ›

With a GPA of 4.18, Harvard requires you to be at the top of your class. You'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes - AP or IB courses - to show that college-level academics is a breeze.

Can a below average student get into Harvard? ›

Yes, Harvard accepts some really accomplished students but they also take kids who are just nice, hardworking kids. The old adage is that your chances of getting in are much higher if you apply. Definitely apply because you never know what'll happen!

What GPA is required for Harvard? ›

In truth, you need close to a 4.0 unweighted GPA to get into Harvard. That means nearly straight As in every class.

Does financial aid affect admission chances? ›

In most cases, submitting an application for financial aid will have absolutely no impact on your admission chances as the majority of colleges operate within a 'need-blind' agenda. This essentially means that financial need does not play any role in the admissions decisions for low-income applicants.

What GPA is too low for financial aid? ›

To be eligible for federal student aid and college financial aid, a student must be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). This generally consists of maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (i.e., at least a C average) and passing enough classes with progress toward a degree.

Why rich students get more financial aid? ›

Affluent students get more school aid compared with students with financial need because colleges are actively pursuing them, experts say. Schools are offering non-need-based merit aid in order to attract students with wealth, especially if they're high-performing.

What is the easiest Ivy to get into? ›

1. What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.

What is the least competitive Ivy? ›

Cornell University

The easiest Ivy to get into based on acceptance rate, Cornell offers over 4,000 courses through its seven undergraduate schools, meaning that students are sure to find a subject of interest to study.

What is the most rigorous Ivy? ›

Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the US and consistently ranks #1 hardest Ivy League to get into. Founded in 1636, Harvard offers students a world-class education from some of the most brilliant professors in the world.

What is the poor man's Harvard? ›

With the diversity and poverty of its students, City College was known as “the poor man's Harvard.”

Who is the richest person to graduate from Harvard? ›

The richest Harvard grad is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who ranked No. 8 on the Forbes 400 list.

Who is the most famous student at Harvard? ›

Most Famous Harvard Students of All Time
  • Mira Sorvino. Award winning movie star, Mira Sorvino is a Harvard alumnus. ...
  • Sheryl Sandberg. ...
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson. ...
  • Amy Brenneman. ...
  • Charles Thomas Munger. ...
  • Robert Lee Frost. ...
  • James Rupert Jacob Murdoch. ...
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Jun 4, 2021

Who got a full ride to Harvard? ›

Now he wants to do what he can to make sure that light shines on others. Four years ago, I brought you the inspiring story of Richard Jenkins, the Philadelphia teen who got a full ride to Harvard.

What ACT score is needed for a full ride to Harvard? ›

There's no absolute ACT requirement at Harvard, but they really want to see at least a 33 to have a chance at being considered. A university with Harvard's stature has equally high ACT standards.

What kind of student goes to Harvard? ›

In our admissions process, we give careful, individual attention to each applicant. We seek to identify students who will be the best educators of one another and their professors—individuals who will inspire those around them during their College years and beyond.

What is the easiest program at Harvard? ›

The Easiest Courses At Harvard
  • Neurobiology 95hfj: The Sleeping Brain. ...
  • Organismic and Evolutionary Biology 59: Plants and Human Affairs. ...
  • Portuguese Ac: Beginning Portuguese for Spanish Speakers. ...
  • Psychology 950: Psychology Live! ...
  • Swedish A: Beginning Swedish Language and Literature.
May 1, 2017

What school is harder to get into than Harvard? ›

Yale ranks as one of the hardest colleges to get into with a 4.47% acceptance rate for the class of 2026, down just slightly from its 4.62% acceptance rate for the class of 2025.

Is dating allowed in Harvard? ›

With the exception of the lucky few who are currently in relationships, the majority of the student body is single at any given time—meaning that there's no shortage of legitimate dating woes on campus. Of course, culture doesn't happen in a vacuum.

Which high school sends the most students to Harvard? ›

In total, one out of every 20 Harvard freshmen attended one of the seven high schools most represented in the class of 2017—Boston Latin, Phillips Academy in Andover, Stuyvesant High School, Noble and Greenough School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Trinity School in New York City, and Lexington High School.

Who is the youngest person to be accepted into Harvard? ›

Eugenie Carys de Silva is an academic known for being the youngest person to ever graduate from Harvard University.
Eugenie Carys de Silva.
Dr. Eugenie Carys de Silva
EducationBsc in Intelligence Analysis Msc in Intelligence Studies Msc in Liberal Arts PhD in Politics MPhil
6 more rows

Can you get into Harvard with a 1 GPA? ›

To get to Harvard your GPA has to be at least a 4.0 and even then if you get in your lucky but they require at least a 4.18 GPA only .

What is the highest GPA ever? ›

A GPA higher than 5.0 is rare, but school point systems are occasionally structured so that students taking advanced classes can rack up bonus points. One student even managed to land a stunning 10.03 GPA by taking 17 advanced classes at a school that awarded bonus points.

What is the minimum SAT score for Harvard? ›

Can a 3.5 GPA get into Harvard? ›

A 3.5 GPA will be highly competitive, and admission can be reasonably expected at many colleges, but it's not the most competitive at places like Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth, which, on average, accept students with GPAs exceeding 4.0.

Do admissions officers look at financial aid? ›

Need-aware colleges

This means when the admissions officer is sitting down to judge your application, they can also see your financial aid application and glean some insight into your family's financial situation.

What grades make you lose financial aid? ›

Federal Student Aid

If you receive federal college loans, failing a class may disqualify you from them based on your school's SAP requirements. Federal student aid typically requires you to maintain a 2.0 GPA to qualify — so failing a class may put you at risk of losing it.

Can you get rejected because of financial aid? ›

Yes, you can be denied a federal student loan for many reasons. It's a common misconception that completing a FAFSA loan application means you'll automatically get approved for federal student loans. In reality, not everyone is eligible.

Why is my financial aid so low? ›

They may have reduced your aid because you didn't meet qualifying credits, due to past performance or if there was a change in your financial circumstances that disqualified you from additional aid. As we mentioned above, you'll want to call your school directly and discuss your financial aid decrease.

Do you get more financial aid if you have a higher GPA? ›

GPA Does Affect Other Aid

You will need to continue making satisfactory academic progress in order to meet the basic eligibility criteria for certain types of financial aid. Getting a higher GPA will make it easier for you to get more financial aid.

Can you fail a class with financial aid? ›

Failing or taking an incomplete grade in courses can impact your financial aid in multiple ways. The 3 main impacts may be owing money back for the current term, losing federal aid eligibility for future terms, and not meeting the renewal criteria for scholarships and institutional aid. Q1.

What happens if your financial aid is more than your tuition? ›

Typically, the school first applies your grant or loan money toward your tuition, fees, and (if you live on campus) room and board. Any money left over is paid to you directly for other education expenses.

What income is too high for FAFSA? ›

What is the maximum income to qualify for money from the FAFSA? There are no set income limits to get need-based aid. However, to qualify for a zero expected family contribution your family needs to make no more than $27,000 per year.

What happens if FAFSA gives you too much money? ›

If you received (or your school or parent received on your behalf) less assistance than the amount that you earned, you may be able to receive those additional funds. If you received more assistance than you earned, the excess funds must be returned by the school and/or you.

Can you get into an Ivy with one C? ›

Since all Ivys use a holistic approach to admitting students, it's entirely possible that someone with a good reason could get admitted with a C or multiple Cs.

Can I get into an Ivy with one B? ›

Can you get into the Ivy League with mostly A's and a couple of B's? Yes, you can get into top schools with some B's, but it depends on the rest of your academic profile.

What is a hidden Ivy school? ›

The Hidden Ivies include many small colleges, such as Davidson College, Pomona College, Carleton College, and Oberlin College, as well as some large research universities, like Georgetown University, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Southern California.

What is the coolest Ivy League school? ›

The best Ivy League school in 2022 is Harvard, followed by Princeton and Yale based on this ranking method. The most notable changes in rankings compared to last year is Columbia dropping below Princeton, U Penn and Yale.

What is the prettiest Ivy League campus? ›

The Ivy League with the best campus is Princeton. It's reputed as having the prettiest campus. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people see Columbia as the most beautiful because of its gothic and classical buildings, while some will pick Cornell because of its breath-taking landscape.

What is the safest Ivy League school? ›

Princeton is one of two Ivy League colleges on our list (the other being Dartmouth). As much as it values its academic rigor, it also clearly values the safety of its students. Princeton's overall crime score of 7.63 is lower than Bridgewater's, but its violent crime rate per 10,000 people is shockingly low: 0.35.

What is the smartest Ivy League school? ›

Here are America's Ivy League schools ranked by student brainpower:
Smarts RankOverall Smarts RankSchool
13Harvard University
13Yale University
35Princeton University
48Columbia University
4 more rows
Oct 9, 2015

What are the most prestigious non Ivy League schools? ›

Here are the 10 best non-Ivy League schools.
  • Stanford University.
  • Caltech.
  • UC Berkeley.
  • University of Chicago.
  • University of Michigan.
  • Northwestern University.
  • Johns Hopkins University.
  • Duke University.

What type of students does each Ivy League look for? ›

Typically, applicants who have been admitted in Ivy League colleges boast excellent grades in academics (with a focus on certain subjects), in addition to having a track record of meaningful involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership skills, and well-crafted essays.

How much financial aid does Harvard give? ›

Amount of Financial Aid Per Family Income
Income LevelPercent of FreshmanAverage Assistance
Income 0-30k4.1%$70,512
Income 30k-48k5.3%$72,475
Income 48k-75k6.0%$70,074
Income 75k-110k2.2%$57,932
1 more row

How much is the average financial aid package at Harvard? ›

Harvard College has 61% of students receiving financial aid and an average aid package of $62,252.

What percent of students at Harvard are on financial aid? ›

55% of Harvard undergraduates receive financial aid and pay an average of $12,700 per year. Over 80% of the Class of 2021 graduated debt-free.

What if you can't afford Harvard? ›

Harvard is (1) need-blind in admissions, meaning it doesn't consider whether you need financial aid or not when making admission decisions, and (2) fully meets all demonstrated financial need in granting financial aid, meaning once you are accepted, it will look at your financial aid application and will make sure you ...

Will financial aid pay my whole tuition? ›

Typically, the school first applies your grant or loan money toward your tuition, fees, and (if you live on campus) room and board. Any money left over is paid to you directly for other education expenses.

What kind of students does Harvard look for? ›

We seek to identify students who will be the best educators of one another and their professors—individuals who will inspire those around them during their College years and beyond. As we read and discuss your application, here are some things that will be on our minds.

What is the highest amount of financial aid? ›

Average and maximum financial aid
Type of AidAverage AmountMaximum Amount
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant$670$4,000
Total Federal Student Aid$13,120 (dependent) $14,950 (independent)$19,845 to $21,845 (dependent) $23,845 to $32,345 (independent)
Total Federal Grants$4,980$10,345
3 more rows

How many scholarships does Harvard give out a year? ›

In a typical year: 55% of our undergraduates receive need-based Harvard scholarships. More than 20% of Harvard parents have total incomes less than $75,000 and are not expected to contribute to the cost of their children's educations.

What are the chances of getting into Harvard? ›

What GPA is good for financial aid? ›

Typically, you'll need to keep up a GPA of 2.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or at least a C average. Your financial aid office can tell you exactly what GPA qualifies as satisfactory at your school. If your grades dip below this standard, you could lose your financial aid.

What is the lowest GPA for financial aid? ›

Minimum Grade Point Average

To remain eligible for financial aid a student must achieve a cumulative 2.0 GPA.

Can middle class afford Harvard? ›

Financial aid policy: Full-ride (free tuition, room & board) for families making less than $65,000. Needing no introduction, Harvard's reputation for academic excellence and prestige is nearly unmatched. But, many people are unaware that they also offer incredibly generous financial aid for middle-class families.

Can you visit Harvard for free? ›

General Tour Information

For our in person tour offerings on campus, we provide the Historical Tour of Harvard. Our virtual tour offerings include the virtual Historical Tour of Harvard and the Harvard Women's History Tour. All tours are provided to the public for free and to private groups for a fee.


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