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Federal Aid Policies

Students receiving federal aid should review important policies and procedures.

US citizens and permanent residents applying for federal student aid are required to file the US Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As part of the FAFSA filing process, students need to authorize that their information be forwarded to the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. Please note that there are multiple school options listed for Harvard University. Harvard Griffin GSAS students must select E00470 – “Harvard Univ Grad S of Arts & Science.”

Students can streamline the FAFSA filing process by filing their tax returns with the IRS at least two weeks prior to filling out the FAFSA.

As part of the FAFSA filing process, the US Department of Education will match student information to the National Student Loan Data System to verify that the applicant is in good standing with respect to any prior federal aid received.

Satisfactory Progress

Government regulations require that students be registered and making satisfactory academic progress to be eligible for federal student aid (also referred to as federal “Title IV” programs). Harvard Griffin GSAS satisfactory progress guidelines may be obtained from each academic department and are published in Policies. Please note that students in "Grace" or "Unsatisfactory" progress are not eligible for Federal Title IV aid.

Satisfactory academic progress standards for federal student aid are based on a combination of both qualitative academic progress determined by the department and quantitative time-to-degree standards. Because policy states that students in PhD programs ordinarily will not be permitted to register beyond their 10th year, students registered past the G10 year are not eligible for federal student aid.

Refund Policy

Federal Loan Programs

Federal regulations require that students receiving federal loan assistance toward tuition, fees, and living expenses must refund aid received to the Department of Education in the event that the student fails to register for the period of enrollment for which they were charged and aid was awarded, or the student withdraws, drops out, takes an unapproved leave of absence, fails to return from an approved leave of absence, is expelled, or otherwise fails to complete the period of enrollment for which they were charged and aid was awarded.

This refund must be allocated in the following order:

  1. Federal Direct Graduate Plus Loan
  2. Ford Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Withdrawing from Harvard Griffin GSAS 

Registered students who formally withdraw from Harvard Griffin GSAS and are not subject to the Active File Fee are charged tuition according to the following schedule:


Students withdrawing on or before: 

September 9: No tuition
October 1: 1/4 tuition for the term
October 28: 1/2 tuition for the term
December 3: 3/4 tuition for the term
After December 3: Full tuition


Students withdrawing on or before

January 31: No tuition
February 25: one-fourth tuition for the term
March 22: one-half tuition for the term
April 27: three-fourths tuition for the term
After April 27: Full tuition

Please note that the Active File Fee is not prorated.

Office of the Ombudsman

The US Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid has an ombudsman available to work with student loan borrowers to informally resolve loan disputes and problems involving Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans, Guaranteed Student Loans, SLS Loans, and Perkins Loans. For additional information visit the federal student aid at or call 877-557-2575.

Students are encouraged to contact their financial aid officers with questions about federal student aid or any of these related policies.

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