Federal Aid Eligibility and Requirements

Harvard Divinity School currently participates in several federally funded self-help programs, including the Federal Work-Study Program and the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. These programs are available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who need help in meeting the cost of their graduate study. Students who are not in degree programs or who are pursuing less than a half-time course of study are not eligible for federal financial assistance.

Applicants to any federal financial aid programs must file the HDS Application for Financial Aid and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Eligibility for these federally funded programs is determined from the information provided on these forms. Eligibility for the Federal Work-Study Program is based on financial need as stipulated by Federal Methodology, a method used to calculate a student's expected contribution. All graduate students are considered independent, and therefore parental financial information is not a factor in determining eligibility.

Since Federal Methodology does not allow for the living expenses of the spouse and/or dependents, a budget based on the standard living expenses for a single student is used. There are certain categories for which the regulations allow an increase to this budget, which include (but are not limited to):

  • medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance
  • certain child care costs
  • dissertation expenses
  • computer purchase (may be used only once)
  • moving expenses (may be used only once)
  • certain housing costs

Students applying for federal aid who believe they have allowable expenses that could be used to increase their budgets should document these expenses and request an appointment with the appropriate financial aid officer. Such added expenses to a student's budget do not increase their eligibility for institutional grant support, but they could, however, increase their loan eligibility.

It is Harvard Divinity School policy that students currently in default on a previous Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), Stafford, or Perkins Loan are ineligible to receive federal or institutional financial aid.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Government regulations require that students make satisfactory academic progress each year in order to be eligible for federal loans and/or work-study. Satisfactory progress guidelines can be found in the HDS Handbook for Students.


Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid verify students' eligibility for federal financial aid. Verification is a process used to check the accuracy of the information provided by an applicant for federal financial aid. For 2021–22, Harvard University will comply with the Standard Verification Guidelines. To ensure compliance, additional documentation may be required of students. It is expected that any requests for additional information will be fulfilled. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of federal aid.

Refund Policies

University Refund Policies

Registered students who formally withdraw from the Divinity School may be eligible for a partial refund (three-fourths, one-half, or one-fourth). The amount of the refund, if any, is based upon the date of registration cancellation. Please refer to the HDS Handbook for Students for the exact dates of cancellation and refund amount.

Department of Education Refund and Repayment Distribution Policy

According to federal regulations, a special refund and repayment policy applies to students who receive federal loan assistance toward tuition and fees. In the following events Harvard Divinity School must distribute a refund.

  • A student fails to register for the period of enrollment for which she or he was charged and aid was awarded; or
  • A student withdraws, takes a leave of absence for a term, is expelled, or otherwise fails to complete the period of enrollment for which she or he was charged and aid was awarded.

Harvard Divinity School will return federal funds in the following order:

  • Federal Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan
  • Federal Perkins Loan

If a student meets one of the above conditions and has received a Federal Perkins Loan for living expenses only, then a repayment must be made. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for specific details.