Specific Information for International Students

Financial Certification Requirements (I-20) for Student Visas

Admitted international students seeking a visa must submit financial certification documentation to the Admissions Office. It is important to know that the financial requirements for visa processing are not always the same amounts associated to the OSFS cost of attendance (COA) budget. International students should take this into consideration when determining their resources and ability to cover the full financial certification amount.  For example, in some cases, the amount a student needs to certify for visa purposes may be higher than what the COA budget will allow a student to borrow.

For the 2015-2016 international students in 45 credit program (MPH) must be able to demonstrate a 9-month level of support ($79,383) when beginning in the fall and a 12-month level of support ($84,243) when beginning in the summer prior to the issuance of an I-20 or DS-2019. These figures are the same as our cost of attendance.

However examples of financial certifications that are not the same as our COA are: multi-year degree (SD 60 credit program, 80 credit programs) candidates who must demonstrate a 12-month support level of at least $72,878 and students with additional family members as demonstrated below. *For each additional child, add $1,350 for the 9-month and $1,800 for the 12-month budget.

International Visa

Spouse and Children

International students should be aware that Student Financial Services cannot make adjustments to the budget to allow for additional borrowing to bring a spouse or children to the United States or to certify the additional amount needed to secure a visa for a spouse or children.  The only exceptions to this are if the spouse is considered a legal dependent of the student, or in certain cases in the student has expenses related to their child/children such as daycare costs necessary to attending school.  Students who wish to bring their spouse and/or child/children with them to Boston should consider how they will cover the costs associated with bringing them along before they arrive.

Periods of Non-Enrollment

Periods of non-enrollment (such as the summer months of June-August) are not included in the COA budget for the academic year, and students should consider what resources they have to cover expenses during those periods of time before arriving on campus.   Budget adjustments for living expenses may be allowed for students taking 10 or more credits during the summer period.

Start Up Costs

Students who are moving to the US from a foreign country should consider the costs of buying items to furnish an apartment (such as plates, pots and pans, utensils, sheets, towels, etc.) as well as items such as winter clothing, that they may not be bringing with them to the US.  Such items are not covered by the cost of attendance, and the budget cannot be increased to include these expenses.  Students may be able to find such items inexpensively or for free on websites such as Craigslist.


Students should note that not all apartments, including those rented from Harvard housing, fall within the standard budgeted monthly amount for rent and utilities (which for 2015-16 is $1,320 per month).  Students who have rent higher than $1,320 per month may submit a budget appeal to OSFS for their increased rent and utility costs.  Students should note that this budget appeal may not necessarily result in increased financial resources.

Please note that leases may vary in length.  If your lease begins before the first day of classes in September or beyond May, these additional rental expenses cannot be included in our standard cost of attendance budget.  Students should consider resources they may have to cover these additional expenses before arriving on campus.

Stipend Taxation

International Students receiving stipends with Harvard will be taxed at a rate of 14%, unless they are from a country which has a tax treaty agreement  with the United States for scholarships and grants.  Please see the Student Receivables Office’s website for more information.

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