Need-Based Grant Policy



Berkeley Law provides need-based Boalt Hall Grants to ensure that the school remains financially accessible to all students. The policy was established by the Financial Aid Committee comprised of faculty, staff, and students to provide a greater amount of assistance to students whose families do not have the ability to assist them financially. We acknowledge that many parents choose not to help pay for their children's education, however limited funding requires us to target need-based grant awards to families with the most limited financial resources.

See the page on applying for grants for application instructions. Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a first-come first-served basis as funds remain available.



Each student's eligibility for need-based grant is determined by utilizing the information submitted on the FAFSA, Supplemental Application, and for second and third-year students, the expected and confirmed summer earnings. Occasionally we will ask for additional documentation.

The elements for determining eligibility are subject to change every year.  For the 2012-2013 academic year, the Berkeley Law Financial Aid Office determined a student's grant eligibility by taking the cost of attendance for the academic year and subtracting a base loan amount, parent contribution (for students who did not demonstrate financial independence), student contribution from summer earnings, and student contribution from available assets. The difference was the student's Boalt Hall Grant eligibility for the 2012-2013 academic year. 



For the 2012-2013 academic year, the standard resident budget was used in calculating need-based grant eligibility regardless of residency status. Visit our Fees & Cost of Attendance page for the most up-to-date budget information we have available. Please note that fee information for the following academic year is not available on the Registrar's website (and therefore our Fees page) until roughly May or June.



Boalt Hall Grant recipients are expected to borrow the first increment of their need. The base loan amount is determined based on funding each year. To cover this base loan amount, students may obtain loans through the Federal Direct Loan program or through private alternative educational loan borrowing. Detailed information about the student loan programs can be found on the loans page.



All students who will not be 30 years of age by December 31 of the academic year for which they are applying will be considered financially dependent for the purpose of determining need-based grant eligibility. An imputed parent contribution from parents' income and assets is used in determining grant eligibility.

All students who wish to be considered for a need-based grant must submit complete parent information on the FAFSA and supplemental application unless they meet the requirements for financial independence for that academic year. Without complete parent information, the applicant will not be considered for grant eligibility.



Contributions from student assets as calculated by the Financial Aid Office using the FAFSA and Supplemental Application will be prorated over three years. The Financial Aid Office will deem at least this amount to be available for each academic year. The methodology will also apply in calculating contributions expected from assets acquired during law school, and may result in a higher contribution in the second and/or third years of law school.

The information will be compared with an alternative method of determining the asset contribution for students with an adjusted gross income greater than $40,000 during the tax year before entering law school. Twenty percent of the gross income over $40,000 will be treated as an asset and prorated over three years. Whichever of the two values is higher will be used in determining Boalt Hall Grant eligibility.



Berkeley Law presumes that students will work in the summers before and during law school.  Entering students will be expected to contribute $2,000 toward the first year of their legal education. 

During law school summers, students will be expected to contribute 60 percent of their gross summer income after deducting a "summer living allowance." The allowance for summer of 2013 was $7,000. 

During law school summers, the Financial Aid Office expects all students to work or to participate in a law-related internship for at least eight weeks. Students who do neither in a given summer nevertheless will be expected to contribute $2,000 toward their legal education from imputed summer income.

For example, if a student works at a large law firm for 10 weeks during the summer, he or she might earn $30,000. Subtracting $7,000 from the amount leaves $23,000, of which the student would be expected to contribute 60 percent or $13,800 to his or her education. 

Continuing students who wish to be considered for Boalt Hall Grant eligibility must report their summer positions and anticipated income on the Expected Summer Earnings Statement. By the following July 15, they must submit either the Confirmed Summer Earnings Statement or a letter from the employer indicating their gross earnings during the summer. Students' tentative Boalt Hall Grant eligibility will be based upon the Expected Summer Earnings Statement. Their actual grant eligibility will not be determined and disbursed to them unless they provide the signed letter from their employer by July 15. 

Entering transfer students must submit their Expected Summer Earnings Statement by June 15 and their Confirmed Summer Earnings Statement by July 15.



If the student is married, the spouse's income and assets must be reported in the FAFSA. For continuing and transfer students, the spouse must also provide expected and confirmed summer earnings. If the spouse will also be at least a half-time student in a degree or certificate program during the academic year, only one-half of the student and spouse's combined contribution from income and assets will be used to determine the student's Boalt Hall Grant eligibility.  The student must provide Berkeley Law Financial Aid with the spouse's enrollment information by email.

Second and third year students with dependents as determined under federal income tax guidelines shall receive an additional $1,500 summer allowance for each dependent. Students who have children/dependents should notify Berkeley Law Financial Aid by email.

Information on spouses and/or dependents is subject to the same deadlines as student applications. Applications completed late will be considered for the need-based grant on a first-come first-served basis as funds remain available.



A student is considered to be financially independent based either upon the student's age or demonstrated financial independence from his or her parents. If the student will be at least 30 years old by December 31 of the fall semester of the academic year for which grant eligibility is being determined, he or she will be considered to be financially independent. Students who meet the age requirement do not need to notify us of their age; they can simply omit parent information on their applications.

Students who do not meet the age requirement for financial independence will be treated as financially dependent unless they demonstrate the following in writing:

  1. that they have not received more than $10,000 total from their parents in the prior five years; and
  2. that they have not lived more than six cumulative calendar months with their parents in the prior five years.  Included must be a list of the student's residences for the past five years and their dates; and
  3. that they have not been claimed as a dependent by their parents on any of their prior five federal tax returns.

Current or admitted students who meet all of the above criteria may demonstrate independence by submitting a Statement of Independence form. Berkeley Law Financial Aid will then review the statement and supporting documentation and either approve or deny the student’s appeal for independent status. If a student is determined to be independent, their status will automatically carry over for their remaining years at Boalt.

You can obtain a Statement of Independence by sending a request to These forms are only made available to current students and admitted students. Please note that along with the statement, a photocopy of the first two pages of student and parent federal tax returns for each of the five years the student was not claimed as an exemption must be submitted. Both student and parent(s) must sign the form. If you cannot provide the required documentation (for example, if you are one year short of the requirement), please do not request that an exception be made on the basis of your being “almost there.” Exceptions are made only on rare occasions and generally involve a legal separation or estrangement from the parent(s).



Berkeley Law encourages students to obtain scholarships, fellowships, and fee remissions from the Law School and outside organizations including the University. Therefore, these awards will not affect the amount of the need-based grant unless the total amount of awards and grant exceeds the cost of attendance. In that rare instance, the amount of the grant will be adjusted downward.


Note, however, that when the Berkeley Law Financial Aid Office determines student loan eligibility, the entire amount of grants and scholarships from Berkeley Law and outside sources must be considered and the sum of all financial aid cannot exceed the student's cost of attendance.