Making Harvard Affordable

I recently posted an overview of the Harvard Extension School.  I put some more thought into this and figured out that a student could very realistically earn a Bachelors from Harvard University in four years, for about $10,000.  Here is how this would work.

First, let’s assume that the student was looking for the least expensive way to earn a good education from a top school.  That student may spend the first couple years at a community college.  The average community college costs approximately $2,000 per year.  So, two years of community college would cost about $4,000.

That two years would cover 64 of the 128 credits needed to graduate.  Harvard requires you to take at least 64 credits at Harvard, so at this point you would start attending the Harvard classes.

Harvard Extension School has a cost of a little under $1,000 per class.  So the next 2 years are going to cost $16,000.

This of course does not cover the costs of living for those 4 years.  Hopefully the student has a place to live for at least the first couple years, and then can hopefully find a place in Boston that meets their budget for the 2 years.

But you can make things even easier by spreading this out a bit.  Harvard only requires that you take 16 of these credits on campus.  This means that you if you can take the majority of your Harvard classes online at the same time you’re going to the local community college.

Paying for Harvard with Financial Aid

You may have noticed that we are still at about $20,000 for total tuition for a Harvard Degree.  But that’s only because we haven’t yet taken financial air into account.

Assuming that you’re not wealthy, you will likely qualify for financial aid.  Between Pell Grants and other resources, most students can expect to receive about $5,000 in assistance per year.  Since this would equal out to $20,000 per year, one could argue that you could earn a degree from Harvard University for free.  But this doesn’t factor issues like living expenses in Boston, or books and food.

The most affordable way to attend Harvard

There would be a few different ways to put this plan together, but I wanted to make my suggestion for the most effective way to go to Harvard.  Here is a 4 year plan, complete with estimated cost.

Year 1, first semester:

Attend 2 classes at your local community college, and 2 classes through Harvard Extension School distance learning program.  Total cost for tuition for both schools would be approximately $2,500.  You would receive approximately $5,000 in financial aid assistance.  Books would run about $350.  If you could live at home, you could go without extra expenses.

Year 1, second semester:

Attend 2 classes at your local community college, and 2 classes through Harvard Extension School distance learning program.  Total cost for tuition for both schools would be approximately $2,500.  Books would run about $350.  If you could live at home, you could go without extra expenses.

Year 1, summer semester:

Take the summer off.  Maybe work a job to save some money for school.

Year 2, first semester:

Attend 2 classes at your local community college, and 2 classes through Harvard Extension School distance learning program.  Total cost for tuition for both schools would be approximately $2,500.  You would receive approximately $5,000 in financial aid assistance.  Books would run about $350.  If you could live at home, you could go without extra expenses.

Year 2, second semester:

Attend 2 classes at your local community college, and 2 classes through Harvard Extension School distance learning program.  Total cost for tuition for both schools would be approximately $2,500.  Books would run about $350.  If you could live at home, you could go without extra expenses.

Year 2, summer

Attend 2 on-campus HES classes in Boston.  Since most students go home for summers, you can find excellent deals on sub-letting, or get a discount from the school itself.  Total cost of tuition: $2,000.  Books would run about $200.  You would pay approximately $2,500 (on the high side) for room and board.

Year 3, first semester:

Attend 2 classes at your local community college, and 2 classes through Harvard Extension School distance learning program.  Total cost for tuition for both schools would be approximately $2,500.  You would receive approximately $5,000 in financial aid assistance.  Books would run about $350.  If you could live at home, you could go without extra expenses.

Year 3, second semester:

Attend 2 classes at your local community college, and 2 classes through Harvard Extension School distance learning program.  Total cost for tuition for both schools would be approximately $2,500.  Books would run about $350.  If you could live at home, you could go without extra expenses.

Year 3, summer:

Attend 2 on-campus HES classes in Boston.  Since most students go home for summers, you can find excellent deals on sub-letting, or get a discount from the school itself.  Total cost of tuition: $2,000.  Books would run about $200.  You would pay approximately $2,500 (on the high side) for room and board.

Year 4, first semester:

Attend 2 classes at your local community college, and 2 classes through Harvard Extension School distance learning program.  Total cost for tuition for both schools would be approximately $2,500.  You would receive approximately $5,000 in financial aid assistance.  Books would run about $350.  If you could live at home, you could go without extra expenses.

Year 4, second semester:

Guess what…you’re already done.  Because you spent 2 summers taking classes, you shaved one semester off your schedule.

The total bill

So lets tally up the bill.  You spent approximately $21,500 on tuition.  You spent about an additional $2,850 on books.  And you spent about $5,000 for two summers of living in Boston.  That brings your total to $29,350.

In your four years of school, you would receive approximately $20,000 in financial assistance from grants. This does not count any other big scholarships you might be able to earn throughout this time.  And since it’s taking on a debt, I didn’t count any Stafford Loans.

If you spent the summer working and saving, obviously it’s easy to see where you could pay for all this.  If you did take out a Stafford Loan to pay for the difference, your payments after college would only be about $100 per month.

This was not the most inexpensive way to tackle this, but I did factor in that this gives you no more than 2 classes per semester at Harvard, which considering how difficult these courses are, might give you the ability to achieve a better GPA.

This plan also allows you to be finished a semester early.  This means you could maybe take 3 classes a semester during a few terms, or even take a few extra classes you may be interested in.

In summary, one could attend Harvard University with no SAT scores, or even a high school diploma.  And if they worked hard, they could earn a degree from the most prestigious university in the country in 3.5 years, for free, or at worst, pay $100 per month for 10 years.  Only in America.


One thought on “Making Harvard Affordable

  1. Michael Wilson

    Hello, I would like to learn more for the courses that you found around $1000. For the most part, the courses I see are around $2000. Thank you very much for your information.

    Reply

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