Types of Funding

Types of Funding for Master’s Students



Yellow Ribbon Program

Harvard Medical School provides qualifying post-9/11 veterans the maximum assistance available through the Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program.

Under this program, the Department of Veterans Affairs matches school aid contributions made to eligible veterans. Harvard Medical School will contribute the maximum amount to be matched by the VA for all eligible veterans.

You will be requested to submit a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to the Financial Aid Office prior to the start of the academic year in order to process your Yellow Ribbon benefit.

Additional VA benefits for veterans provide substantial assistance for living expenses. These benefits should cover academic year living expenses for most Yellow Ribbon recipients. However, Yellow Ribbon recipients may also apply for federal student loans to meet living expenses costs, if needed.

Master’s Program Tuition Discount for Faculty and Staff at HMS and Affiliated Institutions

Full-time, benefits eligible faculty and staff at HMS and the affiliated institutions/hospitals are eligible for a scholarship equivalent to 10% of the full time tuition rate for any of the HMS Master’s Degree Programs (tuition only). Please notify the program if you think you are eligible for this scholarship.


External scholarships are a great way to help students subsidize their Harvard Medical School education because they can help minimize educational loan debt. Click here to view Outside Scholarship Opportunities.

Tips on Applying

Who are you? When looking for external scholarships, you should look for the award funds that best describe you and your interests.

  • Think individually, academically, locally, and globally.
  • Consider your identity from multiple perspectives - female, veteran, religious affiliation, LGBTQ, fraternity, sorority, service memberships, athlete, differently abled, or first generation college student.
  • Think geographically - where do I have or had residency?
  • Consider your research and academic interests.

How much time do you have? You should decide how much time to put into your scholarship search because there is no guarantee that it will yield results.

Get organized. Create an Excel template. Know when scholarships are due.

Get connected.

  • Google search
  • Financial aid websites at other schools
  • Contact your academic advisor or grant managers in your department.
  • Local library
  • Let as many people know that you are looking as you can. Someone may be aware of an opportunity that is perfect for you.

Every little bit counts. Larger scholarships are more competitive. Consider applying for smaller scholarship awards. They tend to be less competitive and are also less likely to use strict cutoffs for grades and test scores.

Have your application ready to go.

  • Always have your resume and transcripts ready.
  • Spell check is never enough.
  • Have your personal statement ready.
  • Make it easy for others to help you. When you ask for letters of recommendation, always provide a resume, your most recent transcript, and a brief statement of your career goals.

Gratitude. Be certain to send a thank-you note or email to the scholarship committee, as well as to your recommenders for taking the time to write a letter on your behalf.


Federal Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Students in the Master’s programs are eligible to borrow up to $20,500 annually in the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program. The student’s total aid (Direct Unsubsidized loans plus all other aid) can never exceed the standard student budget. The maximum aggregate Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan limit for Master’s students is $138,500.

Origination Fees
For 2019-20, the origination fee for loans disbursed before October 1 is 1.062% of the loan amount. Due to federal sequestration, the loan origination fee for 2019-20 loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2019 is 1.059%.

Interest Rates 
The interest rate is set annually each academic year and is based upon the 10-Year Treasury Note Index plus a spread of 3.60%. The 2019-20 interest rate is fixed at 6.08%. .

The interest on a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan accrues from the day the loan is disbursed and is always the responsibility of the borrower. Students can choose to let this in-school interest accrue or pay it quarterly. In order to minimize the cost of borrowing, students are encouraged to pay the quarterly interest if at all possible. Unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized (i.e. added to the outstanding principal balance) at the end of the grace period, prior to the onset of repayment.

Master Promissory Notes for Federal Direct Loans will be made available for signing by August/September of the first year that a student borrows via HMS. Ordinarily, the loan funds will be credited directly to the borrower’s Harvard term bill account within a few days after loan signing; subsequent disbursements will automatically be credited at the start of each term.

Grace Period
All Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans carry a six-month grace period that begins once the borrower ceases to be enrolled at least half time at a qualified institution of higher education. During this grace period, interest accrues but no loan payments are required.

Grace periods are loan-specific; thus each Direct Loan borrowed has only one grace period. However, if the borrower returns to school at least half time before the grace period expires, a full grace period will be available the next time enrollment ends. If the entire grace period is used before studies resume, no further grace period will be available and the loan will enter repayment immediately after half-time enrollment ends.

Under certain conditions, Direct loans may be eligible for deferment benefits. During periods of deferment, repayment of principal is not required, but interest continues to accrue on the loans. All Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are eligible for deferment if the borrower meets one of the following conditions:

  • A student enrolled at least half time at an institution of higher education;
  • Unemployed;
  • Experiencing financial hardship as defined by the U.S. Department of Education (three-year maximum);
  • A graduate fellow for at least six months under an approved fellowship program;
  • Enrolled in an approved rehabilitation training program

During periods of forbearance, repayment of principal is not required, but interest continues to accrue on the loans. All Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are eligible for forbearance during the entire internship/residency period. Forbearance must be requested on an annual basis from the Direct Loan Servicer.

Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans

Due to the high borrowing limits allowed under the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program, most HMS MD students will not need to borrow additionally from federal fixed rate loan programs or from private, market-rate loan programs. However, the Graduate PLUS loan is a Federal Direct Loan Program that is offered to graduate students who have reached the annual or lifetime maximum Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized loan limits. This loan program serves the function of a private loan with the benefits of a federal loan program, such as deferment, forbearance, consolidation, and death and disability cancellation. The Direct Graduate PLUS loan program offers a six-month post-enrollment deferment period that begins once the student ceases to be enrolled at least half time. Borrowers must pass a credit check, and as with other federal loan programs, will need to complete a master promissory note to receive the loan funds.

Origination Fees 
For 2019-20, the origination fee for loans disbursed before October 1 is 4.248% of the loan amount. Due to federal sequestration, the loan origination fee for 2019-20 loans disbursed on or after October 1, 2019 is 4.236%.

Interest Rates
The interest rate is set annually each academic year and is based upon the 10-Year Treasury Note Index plus a spread of 4.60%. The 2019-20 interest rate is 7.08%.

Post-Enrollment Deferment Period
Effective July 1, 2008, Graduate PLUS loans are eligible to receive a six-month post-enrollment deferment period that begins once the student ceases to be enrolled at least half time.

Same as the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Debt Limits
Annual maximum equal to student budget less other aid received. No cumulative debt limit.

Private Loans

Please see University Student Financial Services Private Loan Programs. Private loans are available to 1) US citizens and eligible non-citizens with a good credit history, and 2) international students with a US co-signer.

The Harvard University Employees Credit Union Loan (HUECU) is not available to students in the Master’s program.

Work Study

The Federal Work-Study Program provides an opportunity for students to earn a part of the cost of their education. The federal government, through Harvard, provides a wage subsidy to employers who hire participating students. This makes participants more attractive as employment prospects.

The program encourages community service work and work related to the participant’s course of study. There are options to pursue both on- and off-campus work. A student’s work must be in the general public interest. It may not be primarily for the benefit of members in a limited membership organization. It may not involve sectarian instruction or other religious activities of a church, and it may not involve the construction, operation, or maintenance of any portion of a facility used for sectarian instruction or religious worship. Finally, FWS jobs must be free of partisan political involvement. Students may not work for the Department of Education, a member of the Congress, or in any position that includes lobbying the government.

To qualify as an off-campus work-study employing agency, an organization must be either a federal, state or local government agency, or a private, non-profit organization within the US. The only permissible employment outside of the US is in a US government facility such as an embassy or military base. Privately-owned, for-profit companies are eligible for participation in the program provided the work is directly related to the student’s career goals. The company must also document an inability to hire the student without the FWSP subsidy.

The allowable wage range for graduate students for the academic year 2020-21 is $12.75 - $20.00 per hour. Wage range updates can be found in the Wage Range section of the Student Employment Office website. Employers are generally permitted to set the wage rate for their jobs in accordance with fair labor practices. Work-Study participants are paid through the Harvard payroll systems; employers are then billed for their share of the student’s total earnings, which generally ranges from 30% to 50% of wages paid. Students are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session and up to 40 hours per week during vacation periods.

Students apply separately to participate during the term-time and summer Federal Work-Study employment periods. Application forms are available from the HMS Financial Aid Office. Eligibility is based on financial need as determined by an analysis of the student’s FAFSA data.

A summer FWS award recipient must plan to be enrolled at HMS for the following fall semester. A portion of the gross summer work-study earnings (after adjusting for taxes and living expenses) is required to be used to fund a portion of the calculated student contribution for the following academic year. The exact amount is determined at the end of the summer after actual earnings are known. Federal regulations prohibit students from borrowing additional student loans to fund the Summer Work-Study component of the calculated student contribution.

For term-time work-study, the work-study award will normally replace, dollar for dollar, loans in the student’s award package, beginning with least favorable loan. Alternatively, students may request that the award be used to replace a missing parent contribution.

Once the student is approved to participate in the Federal Work-Study program, s/he is responsible for finding a suitable position. The Financial Aid Office maintains a listing of employment opportunities for students looking for work-study employment. Students may also wish to look for job suggestions at the Harvard University Student Employment Office.