Prospective & Entering Students

Paying For Law School 
Estimated Expenses and Student Budget
JD Program Expenses
Concurrent Degree Program Expenses
Overview of Financial Aid Programs
Need-Based Grants
Scholarships and Fellowships
Additional Scholarship Resources
Educational Loans
Federal Direct Loans
Perkins Loans
Graduate PLUS and Private Loans
Work-Study
Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) 

 

Paying For Law School

Berkeley Law remains a good value in legal education in spite of recent increases in fees and tuition. The law school and the campus provide scholarships, grants and loans to help students meet the costs of attending. Although working will help you to minimize your student loan debt, you are strongly advised not to work during your first year of law school.

In addition to the scholarships and grants which are awarded to entering students, several scholarships and fellowships are made available from within and outside of Berkeley Law each year for continuing students. You should follow our Blog or Twitter and visit our website regularly for updates about these opportunities. Also keep in mind that the law school provides a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) to help you repay your student loans if you enter lower-paying public interest employment upon graduation.

Although Berkeley Law and the campus provide scholarships, fellowships, grants, Federal Stafford Loans, and some Federal Perkins Loans, a growing number of students are obtaining federal Graduate PLUS loans in order to make ends meet. Without a Graduate PLUS loan, many students would not be able to attend Berkeley Law. We encourage you to begin formulating a financial strategy now for your expenses before, during, and after law school. Entering law school with a financial plan will help you reduce your borrowing and make law school more affordable.

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Estimated Expenses And Student Budget

Annual fees and tuition are determined by your residency status. California residents make up approximately 50 percent of the entering class. Residents are required to pay fees determined annually by the UC Board of Regents. Non-residents are responsible for paying both fees and non-resident tuition. Non-resident students may petition for residency status upon completion of the first year of study, provided they meet university requirements. Information about establishing resident status can be found through our Residency page.

The nine-month budget for law students is standardized by the Financial Aid Office for the purpose of awarding grants, scholarships, federal and private loan eligibility and work-study. The budget is designed to reflect the average costs for living in the Bay Area. Adjustments can be made to reflect actual costs if the budget does not fairly reflect what a student pays, such as uninsured medical expenses or child care. In most cases, adjustments are made to increase student loan eligibility. The Budget Appeal Form is available for students wishing to increase their budget starting in August for the following academic year.

Federal regulations prohibit the Financial Aid Office from providing Title IV funds to students for covering the following expenses: 

  • automobile payments, repairs and insurance
  • bar review courses
  • consumer debt (i.e., credit card payments, etc.)
  • interview costs

The standard baseline budget utilized by the Financial Aid Office includes an allowance for personal expenses. This allowance is meant to offset these and other miscellaneous expenses. We strongly urge students to stay within these budgetary guidelines to ensure that their future debt will not grow larger than necessary.

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J.D. Program Expenses

While precise fee levels change each year and the UC Regents have endorsed a fee increase for students in professional-degree programs, Berkeley Law continues to be one of the best values in legal education. Click here to see the cost of attendance components. Fees are subject to change without notice.

Paying at least a portion of fees entitles students to use campus libraries, the University Health Services, and recreational and other university facilities. Law students are also eligible to purchase student athletic privilege cards from the Athletic Ticket Office for admission to sports events. The Class Pass fee provides unlimited AC Transit bus transportation.

Living expenses in the Bay Area tend to be high. The student budget indicates estimated average expenses for a nine-month academic year, based on current year costs, but students should take into account their own spending patterns and the possibility of unforeseen expenses. Updated fee and budget information is posted on our website as it becomes available.

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Concurrent Degree Program Expenses

Tuition and fees for concurrent degree programs (other than the JSP program) are based on the same tuition and fees that other J.D. students pay. The payment schedule may be different, however, depending upon the length and sequencing of the concurrent degree work and the tuition and fees of the other program.

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Overview of Financial Aid Programs

The following information describes the financial aid opportunities available to JD students. All required applications and forms must be submitted in a timely fashion for participation in these programs. In addition to taking advantage of the programs at Berkeley Law, students are encouraged to seek outside sources of scholarship and grant funding.

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Need-Based Grants

This program provides grants to students who demonstrate financial need. Awards are made to cover a portion of the resident fees. Award amounts vary, contingent on an individual's level of need and the availability of funding. The grant is applied directly to the recipient's CARS billing account for payment toward fees. Eligibility is determined for each year individually so students must apply for the grant each year. Click here for program details.

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Berkeley Law Scholarships and Fellowships

The law school administers an array of privately donated and gift funds that are awarded on the basis of need, merit or combined need and merit. Some of the scholarship and fellowship programs have specific eligibility criteria and application procedures, and many law students apply for funding from these programs in response to announcements posted during the academic year. The Law School awards scholarships and fellowships to some students when they are admitted. It is advisable for admitted students to indicate interest in particular scholarships and provide additional information to the Scholarship Committee through the Admitted Student Website. The scholarships typically range from $500 to $10,000. Information on the process, timeline, and a few examples of scholarships can be found on our Entering Student Scholarships page.

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Outside Scholarships and Fellowships

Outside agencies and organizations regularly solicit applications and provide awards to Berkeley Law students. The fellowships typically range from $500 to $5,000, but some are greater. For example, the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara provides a $25,000 scholarship. Other outside fellowships which generally make awards to our students include the Berkeley Law Foundation Phoenix Fellowship, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship and the Foundation of the State Bar of California Scholarship. Our office announces these opportunities by Blog and Twitter, but the information can also be found listed on our Outside Scholarships page.

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Educational Loans

Student loans are the principal source of aid available to help Berkeley Law students fund their law school education. Educational loan resources include federal student loans, private alternative loans and emergency loans available from the university. Loans with the most favorable terms are always made available first to offset student need. To the extent that federal educational loan resources are guaranteed by the federal government, they are limited to citizens and permanent residents of the United States.

Students who borrowed prior to attending Berkeley Law may defer their federal educational loan payments while attending law school. Federal educational loan (Stafford, Perkins, or Graduate PLUS) programs allow borrowers to defer repayment if they are enrolled at least half-time in a degree or certificate program at an accredited institution. For most lenders, the university's Office of the Registrar is able to provide enrollment information beginning the fifth week of the semester through the National Student Clearinghouse. If your lender's needs are more immediate or if your lender does not receive enrollment information from the National Student Clearinghouse, you should obtain an Educational Deferment Form from that lender and submit it to UC Berkeley's Office of the Registrar.

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Federal Direct Stafford Loans

Students eligible for loans at Berkeley Law are offered $20,500 in Federal Direct Stafford Loans each academic year. In addition to submitting the FAFSA application, entering students are required to submit a Master Promissory Note and complete an Entrance Counseling session online before borrowing their first loan at Berkeley Law. In their second and third years at Berkeley Law, students do not need to resubmit the MPN and EC in most cases. However, the FAFSA must be completed every year. Information on the application process is available on our Loans page. 

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Perkins Loans

The UC Berkeley campus offers the Perkins Loan to some students (primarily non-resident first-year students). This loan is interest-free until nine months after graduation or after the student drops to less than six units. Like the Direct Loan, a separate Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling session must be completed before the first payment can be made. If your financial aid award includes a Perkins Loan, the instructions for completing the Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling session will be e-mailed to you by the campus.

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Graduate PLUS and Private Educational Loans

The Graduate PLUS Loan provides funds to pay for the borrower's student contribution and/or student budget expenses not covered by scholarships, grants, other student loans, or other financial aid. Comparative information about the Grad PLUS and private educational loans is located on our Loans page.

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Work-Study Program

The Work-Study Program is a need-based financial aid program that enables eligible students to work and minimize borrowing from the student loan programs. Students may be employed through the program during the academic year and summer. A work-study award can be beneficial when students are seeking employment with nonprofit organizations and government agencies because work-study employers are responsible for providing only 50 percent of a work-study employee's earnings. Entering students are not provided with work-study awards because the American Bar Association strongly recommends that students not work during the first year of law school. After successfully completing their first semester, first-year students who need to work may request an exception to the policy from the Dean of Students.

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Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Berkeley Law's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides financial support to help graduates repay their student loans if they are doing public interest or public service work with a nonprofit organization or government agency. Graduates who meet the income and employment requirements can receive financial assistance with their student loan payments once they enter repayment. Visit Berkeley Law's LRAP page for information regarding policies, eligibility, calculators, loan repayment strategies, and more. If you intend to pursue a career in public interest after graduation, we encourage you to meet with the LRAP Coordinator, Leah Sime, early in the fall semester of your first year at Berkeley Law. E-mail lrap@law.berkeley.edu to make an appointment.

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