FAQ & Glossary


Frequently Asked Questions


How Is My Eligibility Determined?

The university uses a standard student budget when packaging federal and campus-based financial aid awards. Other expenses may be taken into consideration, such as child care, uninsured medical costs, and relocation expenses (for entering students). These adjustments to the standard student budget are reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. The Graduate/Professional Unit Budget Appeal Form can be downloaded from our Loans webpage beginning in August. Completed Budget Appeal Forms for law students should be submitted via email to Berkeley Law Financial Aid.

The law school produces grant and scholarship offers independently and notifies recipients directly. Grant and scholarship awards made by the law school are assimilated into the federal student aid offer and result in a package combining the federal student loans, campus-based aid, and grants and scholarships. Graduate PLUS Loan or private student loan eligibility is generally the difference between the standard student budget and the financial aid package.

What Aid Is Available for International Students?

University policy requires international students to demonstrate the ability to pay their expenses through their first year. Continuing international students may apply for limited student aid funds through the university and should contact the Berkeley International Office at the International House for additional information.


What Are the Policies for Withdrawing Students?

UC Berkeley has developed a financial aid policy for students who withdraw from school without completing a program. To learn more about this policy, visit the UC Berkeley Office of the Registrar's webpage and the UC Berkeley Financial Aid Office's webpage.


How do I pay my fees and tuition?

Your first Campus Accounts Receivable System (CARS) e-Bill for the fall semester will be available in late July. If you are eligible for financial aid, please note that this July CARS statement will not show your financial aid payments, including loan disbursements, for the fall semester.

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will begin sending financial aid disbursements for fall semester to CARS about 10 days before instruction begins, as long as you meet eligibility requirements, which include being enrolled in at least 6 units, not having any registration blocks, and not having an unresolved overaward in your aid package.

If your aid is delayed because you do not meet eligibility requirements, you can expect your aid to disburse to your CARS account after you establish your eligibility. Click here for details.


What is the Deferred Payment Plan?

The Deferred Payment Plan (DPP) is available to students who are not able to pay the entire amount of fees and tuition by the deadline. Students may make five equal monthly installments during the semester. The initial payment is due on August 15 or January 15, depending on the semester. There is a nonrefundable $40 fee each semester that the plan is used. DPP details are available here.


How do I get my refund?

Financial aid funds (grants, scholarships, fellowships and loans) are disbursed in two equal parts each academic year: half in the fall and half in the spring. With the exception of private educational loans, the funds are applied to the student’s CARS account after the student has accepted the financial aid awards, submitted promissory notes for the student loans, met the entrance loan counseling requirement and enrolled in at least six units. Once the fees, tuition and any other university charges are paid, the remainder is given to the student as a financial aid refund. Refunds are given to students as a direct deposit to their bank account after they have authorized an electronic fund transfer. Authorization can be submitted at eftstudent.berkeley.edu.


If I take out a private educaional loan while at Berkeley Law, will the money be paid to me directly?

No, private loan disbursements are first applied to a student’s CARS account. Once the outstanding charges are paid, the extra funds are then given to the student as a financial aid refund.


Glossary of Financial Aid Terms


Accrued interest
The interest that a loan accumulates over time.

Capitalization of interest
The process of adding unpaid interest (often at the end of the loan’s grace period) to the principal of the loan.  The amount owed increases, and this larger figure, the original principal and unpaid interest, accrues interest itself.  It is advisable, if possible, to make interest payments while in school so that capitalization does not occur.

Consolidation Loan
Combining several loans from different lenders into one bigger loan from a single lender with the intention to simplify repayment and possibly get a lower interest rate.

Cost of Attendance (COA)
The student “budget” determined by the financial aid office, which includes tuition, fees, and living expenses.  The cost of attendance is used in calculating financial aid packages.

Failure to repay a loan according to the terms agreed to in the promissory note.  Default varies by loan.  When in default, the school, lender, and government may all take action to obtain the money owed.  In addition, default can affect credit ratings for up to seven years.  Default can be avoided by applying for deferment or forbearance before missing a payment.

Deferment (In School)
A type of postponement of loan repayment granted to students who are in school and enrolled at least half-time.  If you do not qualify for a deferment, you may still be able to get forbearance.  Subsidized loans in deferment do not accrue interest, but unsubsidized loans in deferment do.

Deferment (Economic Hardship)
A type of postponement of loan repayment granted to borrowers when loan repayment is not possible due to extreme financial hardship. Eligibility for economic hardship deferment is more restricted than forbearance and generally requires that the borrower be receiving some sort of government assistance. If you do not qualify for a deferment, you may still be given forbearance.  Subsidized loans in deferment do not accrue interest, but unsubsidized loans do.

Expected family contribution (EFC)
The amount of money that the family is expected to contribute to the student’s education as calculated by applying a formula to information submitted on the FAFSA.  EFC consists of parent and student contributions, which are determined based on the student’s dependency status, family size, number of family members in school, and taxable and nontaxable income and assets.  Note that the criteria for student dependency for FAFSA are NOT the same as the criteria for dependency for Boalt Hall need-based grants.

A type of postponement of loan repayment.  The borrower does not need to pay the principal during the forbearance period, but interest continues to accrue and must be paid, even on subsidized loans.  Forbearances are usually granted by the lender in cases of financial hardship or other unusual circumstances when the borrower does not qualify for deferment.

Income-based Loan Repayment (IBR)
A loan repayment plan for which the size of monthly payments is determined by the borrower’s income.  IBR is available only for Stafford, Grad PLUS and consolidation loans.  Monthly payments are capped at 15% of discretionary income, where discretionary income is defined as the amount of income which exceeds 150% of the poverty line. Loan balances are forgiven after 25 years of eligible repayment. For all loans issued after July 2014, monthly payments will be capped at 10% of discretionary income (instead of 15%), and the loan is to be forgiven after 20 years of repayment (instead of 25).

Independent student
A student is considered to be financially independent based either on his or her age or demonstrated financial independence from his or her parents.  The student meets the age criteria if he or she will be 30 years old by December 31 of the fall semester for which grant eligibility is being determined.  Students who do not meet the age requirement must demonstrate financial independence for the past 5 calendar years.  Note that this is NOT the same criteria used for the FAFSA.

Perkins loan
A low interest (5%) federal loan for students with exceptional financial need. Perkins loans are not eligible for IBR unless consolidated with Direct Loans. Acs-education.com is the Perkins loan servicer for UC Berkeley.

Private loans
Education loans from private lenders to supplement the student and parent education loans offered by the federal government.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)
Under PSLF, full-time* public service employees may qualify for forgiveness of the balance of their loan after 120 on-time monthly payments (10 years).  PSLF only applies to federal loans made through the Direct loan program (Subsidized and Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans, and Consolidation Loans).
*If you have 2 or more part-time jobs, you must be employed for at least 30 hours total per week to meet the criteria.

Subsidized Loan
The federal government pays the interest on subsidized loans, such as Subsidized Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans, while the student is in school.  In contrast, the student is responsible for the interest accrued during school on unsubsidized loans, such as Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Grad PLUS Loans. As of July 2012, the subsidized loan is no longer available to graduate level (including law) students.