“The tension for me was choosing to do an internship that made money but also feeling pressure from my family to return home and spend time with them,” she said.
Not all students can receive funding. OCS can support only 50 percent of the students who apply for OCS funding for Harvard Summer Study Abroad programs, and money is allocated through a lottery system. Among those, about one-third of students funded are freshman, with fewer juniors funded and no seniors funded, Mount said.
Harvard also provides funding for independent, student-initiated summer research through the Harvard College Research Program, which requires applicants to arrange their own research projects with Harvard-affiliated faculty. Freshmen represented about eight percent of those who received funding in the summer of 2015, Berg said.
Out of the about 100 students who received Director’s Internships through the IOP, 27 were freshmen, 39 sophomores, and the rest juniors or off-cycle seniors. Director’s Interns receive $4,000 as a stipend for their summer internships.
This means that although freshmen typically rely on Harvard funding as the only source of income during unpaid summer opportunities, they constitute only a fraction of those who receive the funding. For some, the question of affordability remains.
“I had the responsibility of giving back to my family in some aspect and that made me want to find some job that did have some amount of money,” Ted J. White ’17 said of his freshman summer, when he worked at the Crimson Summer Academy, a program he had been a part of during high school.
White, a coordinator for the Harvard College First Generation Student Union, said that summer housing expenses continue to be an issue.
“One of the barriers, at least for me, is finding internships where I can get enough for housing,” White said. “Internships concentrate in places like D.C., New York, even Boston itself. It’s hard to find housing that’s affordable on a stipend for eight to 12 weeks.”
—Staff writer Marella A. Gayla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.—Staff writer Siqi Liu can be reached at email@example.com.