Harvard Divinity School Increases Financial Aid Stipends

March 10, 2022
Divinity Hall on the HDS campus
Divinity Hall on the HDS campus / Photo: Kristie Welsh

On March 10, 2022, Harvard Divinity School Dean David N. Hempton announced enhancements to the School’s awarding of financial aid beginning in the 2022-23 academic year. (Read Dean Hempton’s full message to the HDS community online.) The enhancements include increasing the stipend awarded to continuing and incoming students who receive a stipend as part of their aid package. The stipend increases will apply to both the merit and need-based programs.

Tim Whelsky, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services, and Beth Flaherty, HDS’s director of financial aid, recently discussed the enhancements in greater detail, and what they mean for returning and future students.

Harvard Divinity School: Can you provide an overall picture of the current financial aid landscape at HDS, and explain what enhancements are being made?

Tim Whelsky: Providing significant institutional aid to students is a core value of Harvard Divinity School. While one of the smaller Schools at the University, a conscious effort has been made to commit a significant portion of our overall budget to financial aid. Approximately 90 percent of our students receive grant aid, and most of that aid is part of our need-based program. The enhancements that we are making now affect our stipend awards to strengthen them in response to increased costs of living.

Beth Flaherty: Our need-based packages will continue to provide three tiers of significant financial support: 75 percent of tuition in grant aid, 100 percent of tuition in grant aid, or 100 percent of tuition and a stipend. Students are awarded one of these packages based on demonstrated level of need through the application process.

What will change are the stipend amounts. International and undocumented student stipends will increase from $8,000 to $12,000, and domestic student stipends will increase from $9,000 to $12,000.

Our grant aid packages of 75 percent and 100 percent will remain the same, but HDS remains committed to working to identify opportunities to continue to strengthen our aid programs in the years to come.

Our merit packages will continue to offer a full tuition grant and a stipend to assist with living expenses. The Presidential stipend will increase from $11,000 to $20,000. The Ministry Fellows stipend will increase from $11,000 to $15,000. The Dean’s Fellows stipend will increase from $9,000 to $12,000. 

HDS: When does this change take effect and who will it impact?

Flaherty: These enhancements to our financial aid program will be made beginning with the 2022-23 academic year. 

In addition to providing these increased stipends for the class we are about to admit, we are pleased to also extend the increase for current stipend recipients returning for the 2022-23 academic year. Updated stipend amounts will be reflected in 2022-23 award notifications that will be e-mailed in late May or early June.

HDS: Why is this change being made now?

Whelsky: Our hope is that the new stipend levels will allow us to provide meaningful support to our students and keep pace with the rising cost of living.

While our need-based programs are our priority and comprise much of the aid we award, merit awards remain a valuable tool for helping us stay competitive amongst other institutions who only award based on academic merit.