Requirements for a Harvard Scholarship: The Ultimate Guide


Securing a scholarship to study at the prestigious Harvard University is a dream for many students. But, navigating the scholarship requirements and application process can be a daunting task. Fear not, for this ultimate guide will help you understand the requirements for a Harvard scholarship and provide valuable tips to enhance your chances of success. Let’s get started!

The Basics

Types of Scholarships

There are three primary categories of scholarships at Harvard: merit-based, need-based, and external scholarships. Merit-based scholarships reward outstanding academic, artistic, or athletic achievements. Need-based scholarships offer financial assistance to students with demonstrated financial need. External scholarships are funded by organizations outside of Harvard University.

Eligibility Criteria

Each scholarship has specific eligibility criteria that applicants must meet, such as academic accomplishments, financial need, or extracurricular involvement. Understanding these criteria is crucial to determine which scholarships are most suitable for you.

Application Process

The application process varies depending on the scholarship type. Generally, you need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile for merit-based and need-based scholarships. External scholarships may have additional application requirements.


Be mindful of scholarship deadlines, as they differ for each scholarship type. Missing a deadline can cost you the opportunity to secure financial aid.

Merit-based Scholarships


Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students who exhibit exceptional academic performance, leadership, or talent in specific fields. To qualify, you must demonstrate excellence in your chosen area.


Some examples of merit-based scholarships at Harvard include the National Merit Scholarship and the Harvard Club of Boston Scholarship.

Need-based Scholarships


Need-based scholarships aim to help students facing financial constraints. To be eligible, you must demonstrate financial need through the FAFSA and CSS Profile forms.


Examples of need-based scholarships at Harvard include the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI) and the Harvard Grant.

External Scholarships


External scholarships are awarded by private organizations, foundations, and companies. Eligibility criteria vary widely and may include factors like academic performance, leadership, community service, or intended field of study.


Examples of external scholarships include the Gates Millennium Scholars Program and the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.

Tips for Success


Invest time in researching all available scholarship opportunities, both at Harvard and externally. The more scholarships you’re aware of, the better your chances of securing financial aid.


Gather all required documents, essays, and recommendations well ahead of the deadlines. This gives you ample time to ensure everything is in order and avoids last-minute stress.

Stand Out

To increase your chances of winning a scholarship, highlight your unique skills, talents, or experiences in your application. Make yourself stand out from the crowd by emphasizing what sets you apart.

Utilize Resources

Take advantage of resources like your high school guidance counselor, college financial aid office, and online scholarship databases to help you find and apply for suitable scholarships.


Navigating the requirements for a Harvard scholarship may seem overwhelming, but with proper research, preparation, and persistence, you can enhance your chances of success. By understanding the different types of scholarships, eligibility criteria, and application processes, you’ll be better equipped to secure financial aid for your education at Harvard University. Keep the tips shared in this guide in mind, and you’ll be one step closer to turning your Harvard dream into reality!


  1. Do I have to apply for scholarships separately at Harvard?
    For merit-based and need-based scholarships, you typically need to submit the FAFSA and CSS Profile forms. External scholarships may require separate applications.
  2. Can international students apply for Harvard scholarships?
    Yes, international students are eligible for various scholarships at Harvard. Make sure to research scholarships specifically designed for international students, as well as those open to all applicants.
  3. What is the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI)?
    The HFAI is a need-based scholarship program aimed at ensuring that students from low-income backgrounds can attend Harvard without incurring debt. Under HFAI, families with annual incomes below a certain threshold receive full financial aid packages.
  4. Are there any scholarships for transfer students at Harvard?
    Yes, transfer students can apply for both need-based and merit-based scholarships, as well as external scholarships. It’s essential to research and understand the specific requirements for each scholarship.
  5. How can I increase my chances of winning a scholarship at Harvard?
    To increase your chances, research all available scholarships, prepare your application materials in advance, stand out by showcasing your unique skills or experiences, and utilize resources to help you find and apply for suitable scholarships.

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