By Katie Kelsall, Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid

As you make your way through the application process, you may have some questions about how to finance your master’s degree at HKS. We’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions about financial aid below.

Remember, there is a separate application for financial aid. Be sure to review our Applying for Financial Aid page for comprehensive information about the financial aid application process. Of course, the Admissions and Financial Aid team is always here as a resource. If you don’t find your answers here, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Does applying for financial assistance have any impact on my chance of being admitted to HKS?

No, the application for admission is reviewed independently of the financial aid application. Applying for financial assistance has no bearing on your admission decision. 

Does HKS provide full funding?

We are committed to distributing as much financial assistance as possible to our talented students; however, our institutional resources are limited. We offer institutional scholarships to roughly 30% of our applicants each year, and award amounts vary. We encourage all students to explore external opportunities for funding in addition to applying for institutional funding.

When will I find out if I’ve been awarded financial aid?

You will be notified if you have been awarded institutional scholarships at the same time you are notified of your admission decision. There are, however, some scholarships administered by Harvard’s Committee on General Scholarships that you may find out about later.

Are international students eligible for financial aid?

Yes. Scholarship funding is available to both international and domestic students. International and domestic students also both eligible for student loans; however, your options differ. Domestic students may borrow federal and/or private loans, while international students are only eligible for private loans. The Admissions and Financial Aid team will help guide you through the student loan process after you have been admitted.

Is it okay if I repeat information from my admissions essays in my fellowship essays?

We encourage you to write your fellowship essays with the understanding that these are the only essays the fellowship committees are reading to learn about you, your experiences, and goals. Approach your essays with the idea that the fellowship committee is learning about you for the first time through your essay(s).

What advice do you have for crafting a strong fellowship essay?

  • Avoid bright font colors or elaborate fonts. Fellowship committee members are reviewing many essays in a short time period—make it easy for them to read your essay by sticking with black font and a simple font style (Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, etc.).
  • Follow essay instructions and answer given prompts.
    • For those fellowships without a specific listed topic, please read the description and focus on how you are a worthy candidate for the fellowship in question.
    • If the format is not specified in the description of the fellowship, essays should not exceed two pages in length and should be single spaced.
    • PDF format is preferred for all submissions. If a fellowship description asks for responses to several prompts, please combine multiple essays into a single PDF.
  • Focus on your experience in public service. If you are describing your goals after HKS, please be as specific as possible.
  • Be authentic in your voice, tone, and writing style. We want to get to know you and your goals and ambitions.

Should I apply for all HKS fellowships I feel I am competitive for? Or should I just focus on one fellowship application?

You are welcome to apply for as many scholarships or fellowships as you wish, provided you meet the eligibility criteria. Please keep in mind that you may be required to write individual essays for each scholarship, so it’s important to get started on your financial aid application ASAP—particularly if you plan to apply for multiple scholarships. 

If I will be enrolling in a concurrent or joint degree program, can I use my scholarship when attending the other institution?

HKS funding can only apply while you are enrolled at HKS. Be sure that you understand the financial aid policy of the other school to which you are applying or attending.

What other financing opportunities are available to HKS students?

Many of our students finance their education through a combination of resources including savings, external scholarships or sponsorship, and student loans. In addition to these resources, students can find paid work through teaching assistantships, summer internships, research positions, and more. Students who borrow to attend HKS and pursue a career in public service may be able to have some of their debt repaid through our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP).

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