Harvard College announced Thursday that it will offer a record $166 million in financial aid for the 2012-2013 academic year and that it will increase the family income level under which tuition is waived.
Now, families with normal assets and income up to $65,000 will not be required to pay any tuition. Previously only families with normal assets and income up to $60,000 were not required to pay tuition.
The Office of Admissions and Financial Aid also unveiled a new “net price calculator” that allows need-based scholarship applicants to estimate expected family and student contributions.
“Access and affordability, enabled by generous financial aid, are fundamental to Harvard’s identity and excellence,” University President Drew G. Faust said in a statement. “We admit students without regard to their financial need, and we make sure that they are given the means to attend and take advantage of the Harvard College experience. This is a bedrock commitment.”
The financial aid calculator—now accessible on the home page of Harvard’s financial aid website—allows users to input data such as parent income, student assets, and parent assets. The calculator then provides an estimate of the scholarship that the student would receive.
“We wanted to make sure it was an accurate estimate as we can provide,” said Director of Financial Aid Sally C. Donahue. “The calculator provides them with the good information that Harvard really is affordable.”
Though the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 mandates that postsecondary institutions post a “net price calculator” on their websites by this October, Fitzsimmons said that his office has been considering something similar for a decade. The new calculator, he said, is the product of much research and consideration by Donahue and the office’s staff.
Since the University unveiled the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, which greatly expanded and simplified Harvard’s financial aid offerings, the total scholarship budget has increased dramatically. Since 2007 it has increased by more than 70 percent from approximately $97 million to next year’s record $166 million.
“I think it will be hugely encouraging,” Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 said, referring to how he anticipates the decision will affect prospective applicants. “I think that it has never been more important for Harvard to move forward with this kind of commitment.”
Fitzsimmons said that providing a full scholarship to students from families that make less than $65,000 is important to Harvard’s effort to attract top students.
“It really is about excellence. You want to get the financial aid assistance to the people who need it most,” Fitzsimmons said. “This is a very deliberate process—we’re trying to help real families.”
Current students whose financial circumstances have changed will also benefit from the increase in available aid, according to Donahue. Students regularly inform the Office of changes to their financial situation, Donahue said.
Fitzsimmons said that during his own time as a student at the College he visited his financial aid office several times and the experience stuck with him.
“The intangible commitment that we’re with you,” Fitzsimmons said. “It makes all the difference.”
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.