What is the difference between merit-based aid and need-based aid?

Merit-based aid is institutional grant aid that is offered to students based on the overall strength of their admissions application. Need-based grant aid is institutional grant aid that is based on an applicant’s financial aid application. The vast majority of grant aid given at Harvard Divinity School for MDiv and MTS students is need-based grant aid. Grant aid is gift aid that does not need to be repaid.