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Harvard Mistakenly Told Students on Financial Aid They Owed Full Tuition

Office of Admissions and Financial Aid

Harvard students who receive financial aid opened an email Sunday evening asking them to check their term bills — and discovered they suddenly appeared to owe Harvard full tuition.

College administrators had sent a message to some students asking them to review their account balances over the weekend. But when undergraduates clicked through the email to Harvard’s online portal, their expected financial aid and outside scholarship credits had disappeared from the site.

Some students on financial aid saw charges posted to their accounts as high as the total cost of attendance for the fall semester.

The Student Accounts Office has since corrected the mistake by updating the website and adding back in the credits, according to Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane. All affected students should now see corrected balances on their accounts, she said.

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Dane wrote in an email that the error occurred when Harvard’s Financial Aid Office provided an “anticipated aid” file to the Student Accounts Office. The move “inadvertently” caused the disappearance of financial aid packages and outside awards like the National Merit Scholarship, Dane wrote.

“This was not a data security issue and no student account information was compromised,” Dane wrote. “This was an unfortunate error and we apologize for any confusion or concern this caused our students.”

Before Harvard fixed the problem, several concerned students and parents reached out to flag the issue to College administrators.

Financial Aid Officer Justin Munio replied and assured recipients that the snafu would not impact students’ aid.

“It does not affect students’ ability to check in or move in, so that can proceed as normal,” Munio wrote in the email. “Nor does it change the amount of grant/loan aid that was being applied.”

Around 70 percent of College students are recipients of some form of financial aid, according to the Financial Aid Office. 

—Staff writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at delano.franklin@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @delanofranklin_.

—Staff writer Samuel W. Zwickel can be reached at samuel.zwickel@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @samuel_zwickel.

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