Parental Accommodation and Financial Support

Students of any gender enrolled in PhD programs at GSAS are eligible for the Parental Accommodation and Financial Support (PAFS) program following a childbirth or adoption event. Policies and procedures related to PAFS can be found in the GSAS Policies section.

GSAS PhD Student Expecting-Parent Checklist

Prior to Childbirth or Adoption

  • Contact and meet with PAFS coordinator, Lisa Simpson, at least four months before your expected due/adoption date.
  • Make a list of individuals who may be impacted by your absence (such as your advisor, department administrator, lab manager, graduate student coordinators, research collaborators, etc.) and include a timeline in which you would like to reach out to them for planning purposes.
    • If you hold or are planning to hold a teaching or research assistant appointment, notify the department as soon as you are able so appropriate coverage (e.g. grading, classes, etc.) can be made.
    • If in a lab and your experiments need to be monitored, notify your PI as soon as you are able so appropriate coverage can be made.
    • If enrolled in classes, notify your faculty instructor at the start of term so reasonable academic adjustments can be made for your coursework. Consider requesting an incomplete, if appropriate.
    • If you are in the writing phase, meetings with advisors or committee members, or dissertation defenses, can be rescheduled.
  • Review your and/or your partner’s insurance coverage to see which plan would be best for your child.
  • Review your finances and create a budget (see useful tips on GSAS's Financial Wellness page).
  • Explore childcare options.
  • If medical reasons impact your ability to make academic progress or meet requirements, contact the Accessible Education Office (AEO) at 617-496-8707 or

After Childbirth or Adoption

  • Contact to inform the PAFS coordinator of the arrival of your child.
  • Contact your insurance company with your child’s date of birth or adoption.
  • Request a departmental G-Year adjustment from your department administrator.
  • Notify the list of individuals who may be impacted about your return at least two weeks prior to your planned return.
  • Register for benefit.
  • Locate lactation spaces and support if you are a nursing parent.
  • Review the Family Resources section of the GSAS website.
  • Take care of yourself and your family!


PAFS Program FAQ

Who is eligible for the Parental Accommodation and Financial Support program?
Students of any gender enrolled in PhD programs at GSAS who are expecting a child either by adoption or childbirth are eligible for the PAFS program.

Whom do I contact if I would like to apply for PAFS?
Four months in advance of the birth or adoption event, students must set up an appointment with the PAFS coordinator Lisa Simpson, director of financial aid and senior admissions officer, by emailing After meeting with the PAFS coordinator, students must notify their advisor and director of graduate studies.

Will time off affect my teaching or research assistant appointment?
Students should discuss how time off will affect their academic appointment and related income with the office or individual who made their appointment.

Is there a form I need to complete?
All students wishing to participate in the PAFS program meet with Ms. Simpson to ensure that each student’s specific situation is addressed as fully as possible.

How much financial support will I receive?
For the 2020-2021 academic year, eligible PhD students receive a one-time payment of $6,831.

May I take time off from my duties during this period?
You may request up to 12 weeks off from your duties. You do not need to take a leave of absence unless you wish (see the GSAS policy on Leaves of Absence for more information).

What will happen if I am receiving external funding such as an NSF grant?
You should check with your funding agency for more details on their policy.

I already welcomed a child to my family. Am I eligible for support?
Those wishing to participate in PAFS are expected to meet with the PAFS coordinator and notify advisors and directors of graduate studies at least four months in advance of the anticipated birth or adoption event. Payments cannot be made retroactively.

How will my student status be affected during the PAFS period?
You will remain enrolled as a full-time student. By remaining on full-time status, loan repayment schedules, eligibility for University housing, Harvard health insurance, and student visa status, if applicable, will remain unchanged.

How will the PAFS period affect departmental deadlines (generals, prospectus, etc.)?
During the time off period, you will receive academic accommodation, including relief from academic requirements, such as postponement of exams and course requirements. Students who take advantage of the time-off period will also be eligible for a departmental G-Year adjustment of one year.

I'd like to talk with someone about how to navigate my parental and academic responsibilities. Whom should I contact?
Reaching out to Danielle Farrell, director of student services, is a great place to start. Danielle is available to assist with any academic or personal concerns, and she can connect you to resources and help you strategize and problem solve.