MD Student Budgets Explained
Purpose and Design
A Student Cost of Attendance Budget (COA) is developed each academic year for use in the evaluation of financial need. The student budget has two primary purposes: 1) to give students an estimate of reasonable costs to attend the School; and 2) to establish the federally required uniform cost of attendance standard against which to measure financial need. Living expense items in the budget are modest and require the student to carefully plan their expenditures. While the published budget offers a suggested breakdown for housing, food, transportation, and personal expenses, students are free to exercise flexibility within these line items to accommodate personal preferences, as long as total spending does not exceed the total living expense budget.
Cost of Attendance Budgets for the current year and the past year for MD Pathways and HST students.
The standard student budgets are based on typical expenses for a single student. Costs for the student’s spouse/children are not included in the standard student budget; these expenses are accounted for in the need analysis formula when determining the expected student/spouse contribution.
Health Service Fee and Insurance Fee
Books and Supplies
Housing and Food Allowance
Harvard Medical School tuition rates are reset annually and cover courses taken from July 1 through June 30 each year up to the final year of enrollment ending with graduation. Tuition is billed by semester. Eight semesters of full tuition are required for the MD degree. Students who opt for the 5-year MD program to pursue independent projects (e.g., research, enrichment activity, etc.) are assessed a reduced tuition rate each semester of enrollment beyond the eighth. MD students who are required by the Academic Societies Promotions and Review Board to enroll beyond their eighth semester to fulfill degree requirements may be assessed additional tuition over and above the reduced tuition rate. Students in the MD/MMSc combined degree program will be billed two semesters of tuition at the MMSc tuition rate in the fourth year of the combined program.
Health Service Fee and Insurance Fee
All enrolled students must be enrolled in the health care program provided by the University Health Services (UHS) and must carry hospitalization insurance (either through Harvard's student Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance Plan or a comparable outside plan). The UHS fee is charged to all students and cannot be waived. A fee for the Blue Cross/Blue Shield hospitalization plan is automatically charged to all students; however, it may be waived upon request to the Student Insurance Billing Office by presenting proof of equivalent coverage under an alternative insurance plan. The Student Insurance Billing Office is located in the Holyoke Center building on the University’s Harvard Square campus in Cambridge. The telephone number is (617) 495-2008. Students waiving the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance Plan will have this charge removed from their cost of attendance budget. This removal will result in a reduction in the financial aid award. Students who are billed directly by an outside health insurance provider and/or married students on spousal health insurance plans may submit documentation to the HMS Financial Aid Office to receive a reinstatement for the cost of health insurance coverage to their budget. The amount will be based upon the actual health insurance premium, but will not exceed the Harvard student Blue Cross/Blue Shield rate. Students waiving the Harvard plan due to remaining on a parental health insurance plan are ineligible for a budget increase.
All MD students are charged a fee for a mandatory group long-term disability insurance plan. This coverage provides benefits should a student develop a disability while enrolled at HMS. It also provides a guarantee that, upon graduation, students will be able to convert the policy to individual coverage without having to re-establish medical insurability.
Books and Supplies
The MD budget allotment for books and supplies was developed with the assistance of a student survey that reported the costs of the most commonly purchased textbooks at HMS. Pathway students are required to purchase their black bag and diagnostic equipment during their first year at HMS. HST students will purchase this equipment during their second year. Budgets are adjusted for these required purchases respectively.
Housing and Food Allowance
The housing component for the first year Pathways MD budget is based upon the average cost of an eleven month rental contract in Vanderbilt Hall; the first year HST MD budget is based upon 10 months in Vanderbilt Hall and all other MD years and Master’s programs, budgets are based upon the off-campus housing allowance. The off-campus housing allowance assumes shared occupancy of rental units in the surrounding community. Students should consider housing options carefully; additional financial aid is not available to single students whose living arrangements have caused them to have expenses in excess of the total standard student budget.
Note: incoming MD students who are able to demonstrate a compelling reason not to live in Vanderbilt Hall dormitory housing in the first year may petition to receive the off-campus housing allowance. Incoming students qualifying for need-based institutional scholarship support who are unable to live in Vanderbilt Hall due to circumstances beyond their control (ex: married students) may be eligible for additional scholarship support; incoming students who opt to live off-campus generally are eligible for additional loan support to cover this increase. Written petitions should be submitted to the HMS Financial Aid Office.
The food component of the student budget assumes a combination of cafeteria meals and shared grocery expenses and cooking at home.
The transportation allowance assumes local travel by public transportation and the use of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s transit pass program. MD Students in the clinical years receive a monthly allowance for limited taxi service to/from hospitals to cover periods when public transportation may be unavailable. The transportation budget also includes an allowance for the cost for one round trip to a student's permanent residence. MD students are responsible for arranging their own transportation, including that of their daily commute to and from their clinical sites. These sites ordinarily are accessible by public transportation from the Medical School, and the average cost for travel to clinical sites is included in the standard student budget. Some sites may be quite a distance from the Medical School and involve added travel time and expense; students are responsible for arranging their own transportation and for paying the related costs.
The cost of purchasing a personal computer and the necessary peripherals and software that accompany it is not part of the standard student budget. However, a student may request that the Financial Aid Office apply an increase to his/her student budget to cover the cost of buying a computer for educational purposes. For those students who are interested in purchasing a computer, the Financial Aid Office will allow a one-time budget increase of up to $2,500. To apply for a budget increase for a computer purchase, a student must purchase the computer and make photocopies of all of the computer specifications and sales receipts. These copies should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office along with a written request for a budget increase. Budget increases are allowed only for a computer purchase made within the academic year for which the budget increase is requested. Students should plan to buy all of desired equipment at one time because it will not be possible to make subsequent budget increases for additional peripheral hardware or software. The expense of a computer purchase will generally be met first with Direct Unsubsidized loan funds to the extent permitted by federal regulation, and then with funds from either the Direct Graduate PLUS loan program or a supplemental private loan program. For additional information about this process, please contact the Financial Aid Office.
In the case of a single parent or a student whose spouse works or attends school, the student may petition the Financial Aid Office to include reasonable child care expenses in the student budget. The student would be required to submit supporting expense documentation such as canceled checks or a letter from the child care provider. If the spouse is attending school, it is necessary to provide documentation showing the extent to which the child care expenses are being covered by the spouse's financial aid award. Any expenses that cannot be met by student/spouse income are then added to the standard student budget. This increase to the budget is ordinarily met with unsubsidized loans and/or outside scholarships.
Spousal income is analyzed by the institutional need analysis methodology in such a manner that generally allows for most of a spouse's income to be used toward his/her own living expenses.
Harvard Medical School stipulates that student budgets may not include the costs of purchasing and maintaining an automobile, expenses related to the support of the student's parents or siblings, or funds for the repayment of a loan taken in a previous year. Relocation expenses for moving to Boston in the first year or for moving away from Boston at the end of the fourth year are also not allowable expenses for the purpose of establishing eligibility for financial aid, nor is the cost of furnishing an apartment. Students may petition the Financial Aid Office to adjust the student budget to accommodate reasonable, yet extraordinary, expenses such as uninsured medical/dental costs. If the petition is approved, these expenses ordinarily would be funded with unsubsidized loans, Federal work-study earnings, and/or outside scholarships. Financial Aid Committee policy ordinarily does not provide for the awarding of HMS scholarships or HMS loans for such expenses.
Students in the MD/MMSc combined degree program will follow the MMSc student budget in Year 4 of the program. Housing, food, miscellaneous and long distance travel budgets are based upon the MD program rates; housing and food budgets are adjusted based upon the number of months in Boston versus months away at research site. Additional allowances for site travel expenses are incorporated into the budget and vary based upon location of research site. Program, thesis and registration fees are included in the cost of attendance budget.