With a published "sticker price" of $63,025 per year, how can it be possible that Harvard can be so very affordable? It's because Harvard is "committed to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all four years ....about 60 percent receive need–based scholarships and pay an average of $12,000 per year. Twenty percent of parents pay nothing. No loans required."
Harvard admits students based on the merits of their application; in other words, whether you are able to afford the "sticker price" is not part of determining whether you will be offered a spot in their next freshman class. Once you are admitted, their financial aid officers work to ensure that money is not an obstacle to accepting a spot in their freshman class. Depending on your family's finances, you may only be asked to contribute "between zero and ten percent of family income."
Harvard's web site states that families with less than $65K in family income are not expected to contribute towards the student's educational costs. Families with incomes of up to $150K will contribute up to 10% of their income, and families above $150 will be asked to contribute more than 10%. So if your family earns the median national income of $55,775, the family will not be expected to pay anything for tuition.
There is still the detail of being accepted into Harvard University. The College Scorecard reports that the students who are admitted and enrolled at Harvard typically have SAT scores of 700+ in each section, and ACT scores of 32+.
But these numbers are NOT a minimum requirement. Harvard provides a summary of what they look for in reviewing an application from prospective students: "students who will be the best educators of one another and their professors—individuals who will inspire those around them during their College years and beyond." Harvard also provides a little advice about how you might want to go about selecting courses throughout high school to best prepare yourself for college applications. While they provide guidelines for academic coursework, the admissions department does consider other student attributes to make their determinations.
So, if you hope to be able to choose a Harvard education for your future, don't worry about money. Focus on doing your best in your coursework, developing your interests and talents, get involved with your community, and otherwise live an interesting life. Whether or not you end up attending Harvard University, you will have built up your academic credentials to attend a terrific college that will help you develop into your best self. Because Harvard is not the only college determined to make your college education affordable. I'll write about some of those other colleges in future posts.
Shepherding our children to adulthood demands our love, our attention, and our acceptance of who they are.