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Emergency Hardship Funding

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At the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Harvard Griffin GSAS), we understand that an unexpected emergency often causes significant stress and uncertainty that can impact your academic success and personal well-being. PhD and master's students who experience financial hardship as a result of an unanticipated event are encouraged to connect with the Office of Financial Aid to determine their eligibility for the emergency hardship fund. The financial aid staff can provide guidance and advice in navigating available resources.

Please be aware that emergency hardship funding is limited and is based on financial need; not all requests may be able to be met through this source. Emergency hardship funding grant amounts vary, and funding priority is based on the urgency of the situation, level of hardship, and the student's overall financial situation.  Emergency funding typically provides grants up to a maximum of $2,500. 


Applicants for emergency hardship funding must be currently enrolled in a GSAS PhD or master’s program. Students on a leave of absence or who are currently enrolled at another Harvard school as part of a combined degree program are ineligible. 

Emergency hardship funding can provide temporary relief for a variety of unanticipated circumstances students may encounter that cannot be reasonably resolved through educational loans, personal credit, payment plans, assistance from family and friends, or personal resources. These expenses include but are not limited to costs associated with: 

  • unforeseen or unusually high medical or dental expenses not fully covered by Harvard insurance
  • travel costs associated with a personal or immediate family emergency, crisis, or death
  • temporary housing and/or other essential needs due to displacement by fire, natural disaster, or other unexpected events.

Emergency hardship funding is intended to help with unanticipated expenses and cannot typically help with routine or recurring costs. However, students who incur significantly higher than usual recurring medical expenses may petition for an exception.  Exceptions may be approved based on the circumstance and availability of remaining funds. 

The list above is not exhaustive for all situations for which a student may seek financial assistance. However, the following situations would typically not be eligible: 

  • expected tuition and fees and standard living expenses 
  • expenses from prior academic years 
  • medical expenses covered by the Harvard University Student Health Program (HUSHP) incurred by students who opted to waive HUSHP coverage and use an outside health insurance plan 
  • routine and preventative medical and dental procedures (e.g., check-ups, teeth cleanings, etc.)
  • copays associated with routine or recurring health care expenses 
  • medical, dental, or other expenses incurred by family members 
  • relocation expenses
  • replacement of old or broken technology
  • personal automobile repairs
  • childcare expenses.

More Information

To learn more about emergency hardship funding and to connect with support, email your financial aid officer. For circumstances that may not qualify for emergency grant funding, student loans may be an option. Your financial aid officer can provide additional information. 

Application Process

To apply for emergency hardship funding, students should fully complete and submit the Request for Emergency Hardship Funding form. Providing documentation of incurred expenses is required. 

Upon initial review, further documentation may be requested. Submitting an incomplete application may lead to a delay in the review of a student’s request. Students must report on the Request for Emergency Hardship Funding form if they’ve applied for or expect to apply for emergency funding from other sources. 

Additional Resources

Other options are available to students experiencing financial hardship: 



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