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HKS Hits $660 Million in Campaign, Seeking More for Financial Aid

The Harvard Kennedy School.
The Harvard Kennedy School. By Caleb D. Schwartz
By Alexandra A. Chaidez, Crimson Staff Writer

As Harvard nears the completion of its record-setting capital campaign, Dean of the Kennedy School Douglas W. Elmendorf reported the school has raised more than $660 million, though he said he will continue to prioritize fundraising for financial aid.

By March 2017, the Kennedy School had raised roughly $580 million, surpassing its original $500 million goal. The University-wide capital campaign is set to end in June 2018, but Elmendorf said the school needs more money for its financial aid program to ensure that HKS programs are accessible to students from all income backgrounds.

“For all of the progress we made, we still have talented people who have trouble affording to come here so we want to make that possible,” Elmendorf said.

In the last few years, the Kennedy School made major renovations to its campus and added 40 new fellowship programs as a result of its fundraising efforts, according to Elmendorf.

“The Campaign for Harvard Kennedy School is allowing us to expand financial aid for our students, enhancing our student recruiting efforts and allowing our graduates more opportunities to choose public service as their career path,” Kennedy School spokesperson Doug Gavel wrote in an email.

Gavel wrote that 52 percent of Kennedy School students currently receive financial aid.

In 2017, the University raised $1.28 billion, surpassing all other American universities for the second straight year. Since the campaign launched in 2013, the initiative has raked in over $8 billion, as of last June.

While Kennedy School students said they support an expansion of the program, they added they want further reforms including fully-funded scholarships.

Thomas B. Stephens, a mid-career student pursuing a masters in public administration degree, said he was encouraged to apply for a Kennedy School fellowship after accepting his admission offer to Harvard. Even after winning the Native American Public Service Fellowship, though, Stephens said he needed to sell his house in order to have enough money to cover living expenses while at Harvard.

“I was prepared and did sell my house in the process to have enough money to come to Harvard—but in the process I received the fellowship,” Stephens said. “The fellowship does not cover everything.”

While Stephens said he was fortunate to have the financial support of his tribal government to fully fund him during his time at the Kennedy School, many students do not have the same financial support. Many students, he said, have to take out loans to afford their schooling—and the Kennedy School offers to help students repay educational loans.

“The Dean remains committed to growing financial aid for our students through a variety of current and future fellowship and scholarship programs,” Gavel said.

Stephens said Kennedy School graduates often have difficulty repaying loans because of the typical salaries offered in public service work. He said he thinks students should ideally be spared this burden.

“I’m not going to be a rich man as far as financial capital,” Stephens said.

—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @a_achaidez

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