Section 1: Budgeting Tips

“A bargain is something you have to find a use for once you have bought it.” -–Benjamin Franklin


The COA is intended to be a “modest” budget. Some students have not been in school for several years and may have developed a lifestyle that is dependent on their level of earnings. Returning to school as a graduate student may require an adjustment to spending habits. A more frugal lifestyle may seem like a difficult sacrifice, but should be viewed as a temporary measure that will be well worth the short-term inconvenience. To be prepared for your Harvard Chan School attendance, consider these recommendations:

  • Pay off credit card debt before school begins: Your budget should only include current living expenses.
  • Have a reserve: If you are relocating to Boston, it is critical to have savings to cover these costs as well as for periods of non-enrollment such as the summer.
  • Grocery shop weekly. This will reduce your tendency to eat out.
  • Roommates: Sharing the cost of rent is always less expensive than living alone.
  • Inexpensive clothing: For those moving from warmer climates, inexpensive winter clothing can be purchased at local second hand clothing stores, consignment shops, and discount stores. Dressing in several layers is warmest so that a few sweaters, a coat, a hat, a pair of gloves, and a pair of waterproof boots can take you through a Boston winter.
  • Limit entertainment costs: Planning for recreational activities should be done within the limits of your budget. As part of a university community, you may be able to use your student status and ID for discounts for movies, plays, museums, and other cultural activities in the Boston area. Many area schools also offer free social activities as well.
  • Stop before you shop: Before purchasing something, ask yourself is this a necessity and how often will you use it.
  • Do not bring a car: Financial aid cannot cover costs of car payments, insurance, parking, or maintenance. Owning a car in Boston is very expensive; insurance rates and parking costs in most areas are expensive. Using public transportation is most economical.

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