Student Hardship Fund

Previously known as the Student Emergency Fund

The Student Hardship Fund (previously known as the Student Emergency Fund) is designed to provide temporary, short-term financial assistance to students in degree programs who are managing demanding academic requirements while struggling with unanticipated or emergency financial situations.

Unlike a loan, students are not expected to repay awards from the Student Hardship Fund. The fund will be managed by the Office for Student Affairs. Please be aware that this fund is limited and not all requests will be met with financial assistance.

The Harvard Chan School works to maintain privacy; however, information may be shared internally on a need-to-know basis.

Possible reasons to apply for the Student Hardship Fund:

  • Support for temporary housing, and/or other essential needs such as food, due to displacement by fire, safety concerns, or other unforeseen event
  • Travel costs associated with a personal or family emergency, crisis, or death
  • Unforeseen or unusually high medical expenses

The list above is not exhaustive for all situations for which a student may seek financial assistance. However, the following situations would not be eligible:

  • Expected tuition and fees and standard living expenses
  • Expenses related to conferences/professional development
  • Travel costs associated with Winter Session Field Trips and other school-sponsored trips
  • Non-essential expenses (e.g., library fines, gym membership)

Food and/or Housing Insecurity

Students who feel they may be experiencing food and/or housing insecurity are encouraged to apply to this fund. Please be aware that funds are limited, but every effort will be made to work with students on identifying resources to support their needs.

For more information on how food insecurity is defined, visit the USDA website.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must:

  • be a currently enrolled student in a degree program
  • show financial hardship due to emergency, illness, or other unforeseen event
  • complete the application and provide supporting documentation
  • meet with the Office for Student Affairs to discuss the situation

Students in PhD programs should first access the resources available at GSAS, including Hardship Funding and connecting with their Financial Aid Officer directly.


The application can be found at the link provided. Please complete it fully, including providing supporting documentation. All efforts will be made to review requests in a timely fashion. If it is determined your request will move forward, you will first be asked to schedule an appointment with the Associate Director of Student Affairs.

Approval Process

As part of the application process, students must upload supporting documentation. OSA may request additional documentation, as needed and appropriate.

Each request is reviewed individually. A rubric will be utilized in the review process and the following factors will be considered:

  • The specific and immediate impacts the hardship may be having on the student’s well-being and academic progress
  • The nature and urgency of the hardship and the totality of the student’s hardships
  • Other resources or support that the student may have available to them
  • Other information provided by third parties at the student’s request, such as advocates or advisors, that may help to illuminate and clarify the student’s situation

Every effort will be made to process these requests in a timely manner. Not every request will be met with financial support. Applicants may be asked to provide feedback on the impact of the fund.

Please be aware that awards made through this fund are subject to federal tax regulations and should be self-reported as income.  More info on taxes can be found here: .  

In accordance with Harvard University policy, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, national or ethnic origin, political beliefs, veteran status, or disability in admission to, access to, treatment in, or employment in its programs and activities.