We expect that most students will take out a loan to fund their MBA, in combination with fellowship awards, external scholarships, and savings. Domestic students can apply for federal student loans, private student loans, or use a combination of both.

When you take out a student loan, you assume a legal obligation to repay the principal amount you borrow, plus interest, under a defined repayment schedule. The following information is provided to help in your financial aid planning. Please be aware that HBS is not able to endorse or promote specific loans or banking institutions.

Harvard University is committed to the highest standard of ethics and conduct, in all areas, including financial aid. Please review the Harvard University Student Loan Code of Conduct


Federal Student Loan Programs

Federal student loans are available through the Federal Direct Loan Program. The two types of federal student loans are Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Graduate PLUS Loans:

  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are available to qualified students who are U.S. Citizens or U.S. Permanent Residents. They carry a fixed interest rate and a maximum loan amount of $20,500.
  • Graduate PLUS Loans are available to qualified students who are U.S. Citizens or U.S. Permanent Residents. They carry a fixed interest rate, and the annual loan limit is based on cost of attendance minus other financial aid received.

Many students request a Stafford Loan first, because it usually carries a lower interest rate and loan fee. Students then apply for the Graduate PLUS Loan to make up the difference.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans come from financial institutions such as banks or credit unions.

  • Interest rates are often variable, which means your interest rate and payments can go up over time (although some lenders now offer variable and fixed rates for students).
  • Private student loans may be a good option if you have an excellent credit history and plan to pay off your loans quickly (usually within five years after graduation).
  • Repayment options may be less favorable compared to federal student loans.

If you are considering taking out a private student loan, you should request a copy of your credit report in advance to make sure everything is in order with your credit history.

Personal Loans

Personal loans may be an option for some students, but we strongly recommend that you carefully consider the terms and repayment details.

  • Personal loans are considered legal documents for financial aid purposes.
  • Students receiving need-based HBS Fellowships who take out a personal loan will be required to provide a loan agreement to the Financial Aid office.