6.07 Financial Aid

The goal of the HMS financial aid program is to assist eligible students and their families in managing a financial plan for obtaining the Harvard MD degree. In academic year 2016-2017, the HMS Financial Aid Office administered over $38 million in loans, employment and scholarship funding from various federal, private and school sources to approximately 80% of the HMS MD student body.

The HMS Financial Aid Office awards financial assistance solely on the basis of financial need and availability of funds; Harvard has no merit-based scholarship awards. Financial need, as determined by a national need analysis formula, is the only consideration in determining how much total aid an individual receives. Student financial aid packages are constructed based on funds available at the time the application is completed. For the 2018-19 award year, HMS students filed the HMS Application for Financial Aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students applying for institutional funding also filed the CSS Profile Application, along with copies of 2016 parental federal tax returns.

Each student applicant is assigned by alphabetical designation to a Financial Aid Counselor. Although many students become acquainted with their Counselors during the application process prior to entering HMS, the first required group meeting between incoming students and their Counselors takes place during August, when loan recipients have an entrance loan interview. Entrance counseling is the first module in HMS’s debt management/personal finance program. In the second and third years group meetings are held; and in the fourth (or graduation) year, a financial planning seminar and optional individual exit loan interviews are scheduled prior to graduation as well. All students are required to complete an annual debt review of their financial aid. Throughout each year, students remain in contact with the Financial Aid Office staff to work out the details of their financial aid processing.

Comprehensive standard student budgets upon which financial need is based are developed and published annually (Section 6.01). In any year, a student’s financial need must exceed the standard unit loan amount before scholarship funding will be offered.

The Financial Aid Office maintains outside scholarship opportunities on the Financial Aid website. The Office also prepares a number of materials that describe financial aid programs, policies, and procedures. Applicants are welcome to stop by the office in Gordon Hall (Room 211) to have any general questions answered. Additional information is available on the HMS Financial Aid Office website.

Common Questions about HMS Financial Aid

What is the deadline to apply for financial aid?  The financial aid deadline for incoming students is March 19th. Award decisions for on-time, completed applications are processed and e-mailed out on a rolling basis beginning in late March. The financial aid deadline for continuing students is April 30th. On-time applications are processed and notifications are emailed in July. Timely submission of all application materials is essential, as financial aid decisions are based upon financial need and availability of funds; late applicants could jeopardize their access to limited sources of aid.

How does HMS make financial aid decisions? 

For Students Applying for Institutional Funds:

HMS awards its own scholarship and loans and federal campus-based scholarship and loans according to a student’s assessed financial need. That need is based upon an analysis of the parents’, the student’s, and the student’s spouse's (when applicable) financial disclosures subjected to a national needs analysis formula. Need is met with a financial aid package consisting of two basic components: the first portion is the “unit loan” (a package of loans); the second portion is scholarship grant, offered to those whose need exceeds the established unit loan level. Applicants whose forms are submitted late are offered a package of remaining funds available.

Students entering HMS in August 2014 or later: institutional scholarship awards are capped at the level of required tuition and fees charges. Eligibility for institutional scholarship funding is limited to eight semesters of full tuition charges.  

For Students Applying for Federal Funds Only:

Parent financial disclosures are not required when applying for most federal financial aid programs.

I am financially independent from my parents. Do I need to submit parent information? Students who would like to be considered for institutional grants and loans must supply parent financial information regardless of age, dependency, marital status, tax status, income level or prior history of financial independence. Students who are age 29 and older may have their parent contribution reduced by a certain percentage based upon the student’s age. Please refer to our Student Age Policy for more details.

What if I have no contact with my non-custodial parent?  When the whereabouts of a student’s parent are unknown or the student has not had contact with that parent for a significant period of time, the Financial Aid Office may waive the requirement for that parent’s financial information. To qualify for this waiver, the family situation must be documented by a third party professional who has long-term, personal knowledge of the family. Please refer to the Petition for Waiver of Non-Custodial Parent Information for more details.

Why do married students have to submit financial information from both their parents and spouse?  HMS considers all available family resources when determining a student’s financial need for institutional funds. This policy ensures that the criteria in the awarding of need-based institutional funds are the same for all students. When considering a spousal contribution in this determination, HMS recognizes that some finances must be protected to cover the spouse’s own living expenses. In many cases, the spouse’s presence in the calculation does not result in an increased expected contribution.

My parents are not going to contribute to my medical education. How do I cover the expected parent contribution?  Students may borrow unsubsidized Direct loans and Graduate PLUS loans to cover their expected parent contribution. International students have the option of borrowing private outside loans to cover their family’s contribution.

I have children. How do they affect my financial aid package?  Allowances toward child care expenses are considered in the needs analysis when determining a student’s expected financial contribution toward educational costs. If the basic allowances for child care expenses exceed available income to cover these costs, the Financial Aid Office may be able to increase a student’s budget for the shortfall. In addition, the Financial Aid Office may increase a student’s budget for reasonable daycare expenses. The student must submit supporting documentation of daycare costs. These costs are split between the student and the student’s spouse. In the case of a single parent, the entire cost may be applied as an increase to the student’s budget. This increase in budget ordinarily is met with unsubsidized loans.

How do I get payment on my undergraduate student loans deferred?  You must file a student loan deferment form with each “holder” of your student loans. A holder is the lender (e.g., your school or bank) or its designated servicer (e.g., EdFinancial, Navient, Nelnet, etc.). The Registrar’s Office certifies enrollment electronically via the National Student Loan Clearinghouse (NSLC), which processes most deferments. In the rare instance that a lender may not participate in NSLC, the Registrar’s Office will process a paper request on the student’s behalf.

Can I appeal the financial aid award decision?  A student who feels that exceptional family circumstances have not been fully considered in the review of his/her application may discuss those concerns with his/her Financial Aid Officer. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be achieved through this meeting, the student may petition for a formal hearing of his/her appeal by the Financial Aid Committee. Changes in circumstances and income must be documented. Appeals for increases to the standard student budget are rarely granted. When this is the reason for the appeal, the student expenses above the standard budget must be well documented; receipts are required. Students planning to file appeals should present their petitions in writing to a Financial Aid Officer no later than October 1st. The Financial Aid Officer will present the petition to the Financial Aid Committee, and the Committee will then render a decision on the appeal. Names will not be used when cases are discussed, and the Committee’s action will remain both absolutely confidential and final.

How do I obtain information about outside scholarships?  Students should visit the AAMC or the AMA websites for information about potential outside scholarship sources. Students are encouraged to check with their local towns for potential scholarship funding sources as well. The Financial Aid Office receives scholarship information from various organizations periodically throughout the academic year. Students are notified about these scholarship opportunities via email. In addition, the Financial Aid Office provides scholarship opportunities on the Financial Aid website.

How do outside scholarships affect my financial aid package?  Any outside award is first applied toward parent contribution and then toward loan reduction, starting with the least favorable loans in a student’s financial aid package. The HMS scholarship is the last award that is impacted by receipt of outside scholarships.

What is the Federal Work-Study Program, and how do I qualify?  The Federal Work-Study Program provides an opportunity for students who wish to earn funds to pay for school. The federal government, through Harvard, provides a wages subsidy to employers who hire participating students, which makes participants more attractive as employment prospects. A student’s eligibility is based upon financial need. Students apply for work-study by first applying to HMS for financial aid and then subsequently submitting a work-study application. Participating students are responsible for finding their own jobs; information on available positions can be obtained from the HMS Financial Aid Office or the Harvard University Student Employment Office. Your financial aid officer can provide you with an estimate of your eligibility for work-study. A work-study award can be used to reduce loan borrowing, or, upon request, can replace a portion of the computed parent contribution. The allowable work-study wage range for graduate students for the academic year 2018-19 is expected to be $13.50 - $20.00 per hour.

A portion of my financial aid will cover living expenses. When and how do I receive this money?  If your aid exceeds the outstanding charges on your bill, your account will show a credit balance once all of your aid has been disbursed. Students should complete a refund request form to obtain money for living expenses. Students may stop by the Financial Aid Office to complete the form or they may submit their requests online.

First year students may request a refund for their fall living expenses in September. Students will need to place a separate refund request in December for their spring living expenses. First-year students have the option of requesting a cash advance in August upon matriculation of up to $1,000 (if living on-campus) or $2,305 (if living off-campus) to cover expenses incurred during the 1st month of school.

Second, third, fourth and fifth year students may request a cash advance of up to $4,610 in June to cover their July and August living expenses. Students will receive their full refund in September to cover their fall term living expenses. Students will need to place a separate refund request in December to cover their spring living expenses.

I need to purchase a computer. Are there financial aid funds available for this expense?  Students may borrow up to $2,500 in additional unsubsidized loans to purchase a computer, printer & software for school. A receipt of the computer purchase must be provided to the Financial Aid Office. Students interested in this option should speak with a financial aid staff member prior to the purchase. Note: requests for additional funding are limited to one such purchase increase during tenure at HMS.

I am planning to take an additional academic year. How does this decision affect my financial aid package?  Students who extend their program beyond the traditional 4-year curriculum at HMS ordinarily are charged 4 consecutive years of full tuition and charged reduced tuition for their fifth year. Students are eligible to apply for financial aid during their fifth year; this aid is in the form of loans only for students entering HMS in August 2014 or later. A student’s fifth-year budget is much lower since reduced tuition is charged. Living expenses mirror the fourth-year budget. Students are required to speak with their financial aid officer to discuss how taking a fifth year will impact their specific financial aid package and overall debt.

What happens to my financial aid if I take a Leave of Absence (LOA)?  If a student takes a leave of absence after the semester has begun, tuition and housing charges may be prorated based upon when the student ceases enrollment at HMS. The Financial Aid Office will revise the standard budget to reflect adjustments to tuition and housing charges as well as prorations to other costs, and will calculate an adjusted award. Students must contact the Financial Aid Office to set up a mandatory loan exit interview counseling session

What is the average graduating debt of an HMS student? How does this compare with other schools?  The average graduating debt for the HMS Class of 2017 was $105,389. The national average for all public medical schools was $181,179. The national average when comparing private medical schools was $206,204.

What loan forgiveness programs are available?  The HMS Financial Aid Office is pleased to offer an institutional loan forgiveness program available only to HMS students! The program is called the HMS Presidential Scholars Public Service Initiative and is currently available through 2016. In addition HMS students who have an intention of pursuing careers in global health delivery may be eligible to apply for the Abundance Found Global Health Loan Forgiveness Program. Funding for this program is currently available through 2020. This program is designed to reduce educational debt through loan forgiveness for students who possess outstanding leadership skills and who have demonstrated intention to pursue a career in global health delivery following residency/fellowship training. Please note that these programs are offered based upon availability of funding; program terms and conditions are subject to change at any time. Information about these programs may be found in the Loan Forgiveness section of the HMS Financial Aid Office website.

Last updated 8/6/18