What does it cost to go to harvard: calculating my harvard graduation costs

College education is expensive, especially at harvard. But what does it cost to go to harvard? Discover what my harvard degree cost me.


Everyone knows that attending college gets more expensive every year, especially in the united states. For international students, for whom financial aid is limited, the cost of attending harvard is one of the biggest deterrents to applying in the first place. Even for students from affluent american families, the high cost of tuition and living makes them rethink college education.

Is harvard expensive?

Yes, it most certainly is. Harvard is among the most expensive schools with one of the highest sticker prices, ranging from 50 to 70 annually.000 US dollars for tuition is. However, it's not even the most expensive school out there. Harvard university's costs are comparable to other ivy leagues like yale and even other private institutions in the U.S. Like stanford.

Unlike harvard, many private institutions do not offer funding for international students. For many students, the net cost of attending harvard university may be less than some other schools in the U.S. What does it cost to go to harvard? Let's take a look..

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What does it really cost to go to harvard?

Let's take a look at the items that make up the budget for attending harvard. Primarily tuition for the academic year, plus other school fees such as library or student activity fees. Then there are the other expenses like health insurance, housing, food and cost of books, miscellaneous expenses, etc.

  • Annual tuition
  • Heather insurance plan
  • Health services
  • Student activity fee / library fee
  • Food / housing
  • Meal or daily meal costs
  • Socializing / partying / fun / dining out
  • Books/accessories/laptop
  • Miscellaneous expenses


This is my breakdown, based on what I spent and the items to look at when calculating what it costs to go to harvard. Harvard schools have their own breakdown estimate. This total cost estimate is usually provided by each harvard school as an annual budget, based on what they refer to as a "moderate student lifestyle".

However, these costs are usually offset by scholarships, financial aid, or part-time student employment.

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Variations in the cost of attending harvard

The total cost of attending harvard university, whether it is for under or graduate school, can vary from student to student. This cost depends on their lifestyle, where they live and eat, and even what school they attend. That's why when people ask me, "how much does it cost to go to harvard?" There's no clear answer."Even within harvard university, tuition can vary up to 40% depending on which school you attend.

This variation in the net cost of attending harvard is even greater when you consider scholarships and/or merit and whether or not the student earns through part-time employment during their academic year. All of these factors make it pretty difficult to put a concrete number on your budget for attending harvard. However, we can take some examples and I can tell you what I spent as a student at harvard.

Harvard University entry to Harvard application process-

Harvard degree cost / budget to attend harvard

The first step in calculating how much your harvard degree will cost is to go to your school's website and check the budget it states. As an example, here is the annual budget for master's degree given by my own school, harvard graduate school of design on their website for the academic year 2019-2010:

Tuition: $ 51,620
BCBS health insurance: $ 3,700
health service fee: $ 1,206
activity fee: $150
room and board: $ 15,716
books / accessories: $ 3,098
personal: $ 4,046
total: $79,536

Take harvard business school's annual budget, perhaps the most expensive at harvard, for a single student for the 2019-2010 academic year.

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How accurate is this budget?

This budget is not an exact number of what you should expect, but it gives a good idea of what you should plan for (before considering scholarships/financial aid). For most students, it is a bit on the higher side. This budget is not designed based on a frugal lifestyle, nor is it too wasteful.

If you look at this budget, you can see that the non-negotiable items are tuition, health plan, health service fee, and activity fee. Your savings can only go toward the other items unless you already have another health plan or financial assistance.

If you live a simple lifestyle or minimize your personal expenses, you can expect to save about 10% of the stated budget.
You can save up to 20% if you live off campus and have lots of roommates.

Harvard university housing costs


The cost of boarding depends on where you live and whether you are on a sharing basis or not. Here are some quick numbers:

  • $820-1100 per month per room for harvard dorms (based on GSAS dorms)
  • $1700 to $2,600 per month for studio or IBHK in harvard housing
  • $1150- 2000 per month for a studio apartment or 1BHK somewhere on campus not owned by harvard (sharing basis).
  • $500-850 per person in a 3BHK or 4BHK off-campus on a sharing basis.
  • When choosing off-campus housing, also consider set-up costs for furniture, utilities & more.

What a harvard degree cost me

Harvard Memorial Hall University Tour Campus Life Students Architecture

Academic year 1

Tuition: $ 51,620
BCBS health insurance: $3,700
health service fee: $1,206
activity fee: $150
financial aid: – $10,324
richards hall small room: $ 7,402

GSAS commons dining plan: $2,426
india-US airfare (round trip): $1200
food, groceries, utilities & transportation: $2,750
winter clothing : $ 350
socializing / dining out / partying: $1,280
books / accessories: $ 150
laptop: $ 700
miscellaneous expenses: $ 550

Academic year 2

Tuition: $25,810 (one semester only)
BCBS health insurance: $3,700
health service fee : $ 1,206
activity fee: $75
financial aid: – $ 5,162
perkins hall small room: $8,058
GSAS commons dining plan: $2,426
india-US air tickets (round trip): $ 1300
food, groceries, utilities & transportation: $2,750
winter clothes: $ 150
socializing / dining out / partying: $1,080
books / accessories: $ 150
cross registration classes & materials: $300
miscellaneous expenses: $ 550

Total: $ 42,393
total cost of my harvard degree*: 1,05,553

* I received my harvard degree in 2011, so these costs are adjusted for inflation & tuition + dorm costs are based on the 2019-2010 academic year, so you can compare them to the budgets above.

I have offset these costs with student loans & part-time student work. You can read more here:
how to pay for harvard as an international student