FAQ Financial Aid

Bill & Bill Payment

To check if your aid has disbursed, log into CalCentral, click on “My Finances”, then click on “View Awards”.

Then, on the right-hand side you will be able to see the “Awards” and “Loans” sections. Here you can see the status of your financial aid at the bottom right of each award/loan. Awards that have disbursed will show as “DISBURSED” and awards that have not will show as “NOT DISBURSED”. When one aid disburses for only one semester, this will show as “PARTIALLY PAID”.

You can click on the award, and it will show you disbursements per semester.

award&loan

Your first e-Bill for the semester will be available a few weeks before instruction begins on CalCentral if enrolled. If eligible for financial aid, please note that this statement may not show your anticipated financial aid, including loan disbursements, for the semester. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will begin applying financial aid the week before instruction begins, as long as you meet eligibility requirements. Eligibility requirements include, but are not limited to, being enrolled at least half-time. Payments can be made via CalCentral directly to your balance. 

The Fee Payment Plan (FPP) is available to students who do not have enough financial aid to cover fees and tuition by the deadline, or will not be using financial aid to cover the bill. Students may make five equal monthly installments during the semester for a fee.

Your first e-Bill for the semester will be available a few weeks before instruction begins on CalCentral if enrolled. If eligible for financial aid, please note that this statement may not show your anticipated financial aid, including loan disbursements, for the semester. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will begin applying financial aid the week before instruction begins, as long as you meet eligibility requirements. Payments can be made via CalCentral directly to your balance. Please click here for more information on payment options.

Is a third party covering your tuition and fees (such as an external organization/company or home country?) Do they need to receive a bill from Berkeley before they will submit payment? If so, visit Student Billing Services’ webpage on information about Third Party Contracts.

Are you trying to make a payment to Berkeley from an international bank account? If so, follow instructions on making international wire transfer payments.

FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS BORROWERS

You’re encouraged to accept the smallest amount of federal student loans needed for the year. You can accept less than the offered amount, which is your maximum eligibility. If you accept less than the maximum amount offered to you, you have until the end of the term or year to accept additional amounts of the loan. Feel free to use the following examples as guides:

Example 1: Student needs enough to cover tuition and fees. She will be waiving the SHIP health insurance and paying for indirect expenses out of pocket. Her total university charges are estimated at $26,000 per semester.*

She has been offered the following:

  Academic Year* Fall Spring Origination Fee**
Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan $20,500 $10,250 $10,250 1.068%
Federal Graduate PLUS Loan $60,000 $30,000 $30,000 4.272%
  • She decides to accept the full amount of the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan of $20,500. The origination fee of $110.00 is deducted from the loan before the funds apply to her charges ($10,250 x .01068 = $110.00 origination fee per semester). The net amount disbursed per semester is therefore $10,140.00.
  • After the Unsubsidized Stafford loan disburses, she has has a remaining semester balance of $15,860.00.
  • She decides to accept the Graduate PLUS Loan to cover the remaining balance of $15,860.00 per semester, or $31,720 per year. She uses the following method to calculate how much she needs to accept: $31,720 ÷ (1 – 0.04272) = $33,136. She therefore accepts ~$33,136 in the Graduate PLUS Loan ($33,136 x .04272 = $1,415 –> $31,720 + $1,416 = $33,136) for the year.

*Amounts are solely for demonstration purposes. Refer to your estimated Cost of Attendance or bill on CalCentral to view costs and awards.

**Refer to the federal student aid website for current origination fees

Example 2: Student needs enough to cover direct expenses like tuition, fees, and SHIP health insurance. Additionally, he’s determined he needs $20,000 in a refund for room/board and living expenses for the academic year. His total university charges are estimated $27,500 per semester.*

He has been offered the following:

  Academic Year* Fall Spring Origination Fee**
Gift Aid (Grant/Scholarship) $10,000 $5,000 $5,000 n/a
Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan $20,500 $10,250 $10,250 1.068%
Federal Graduate PLUS Loan $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 4.272%
  • After his gift aid disburses, his remaining balance per semester is $22,500 ($27,500 – $5,000 scholarship). He decides to accept the full amount of the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loan of $10,250 per semester. The origination fee of $110.00 is deducted from the loan before the funds apply to his charges ($10,250 x .01068 = $110.00 origination fee per semester). The net amount disbursed is therefore $10,140.00.
  • His remaining semester balance comes to $12,360.00 after his scholarship and Unsubsidized Stafford loan are applied ($27,500 – $5,000 – $10,140.00 = $12,360.00)
  • He decides to accept the Graduate PLUS Loan to cover his remaining balance plus an additional $10,000 to cover his living expenses for a total of $22,360 per semester. After accounting for the 4.272% origination fee, he decides to accept $23,358 in the Graduate PLUS Loan ($22,360 ÷ (1 – 0.04272) = $23,358) for the semester, or $46,716 per year.
  • After his aid is applied to his charges, he can expect a $10,000 refund for the semester to use for living expenses.

*Amounts are solely for demonstration purposes. Refer to your estimated Cost of Attendance or bill on CalCentral to view costs and awards.

**Refer to the federal student aid website for current origination fees

If not approved for the Graduate PLUS loan due to adverse credit history, you will be notified by Direct Loans after Berkeley begins loan processing and you will have the option of seeking an endorser. Click here for more information on seeking an endorser.

Login to CalCentral. Click on “My Finances” and “View Awards.” To accept any amount of your loans, click on “Accept”. Then, you will have the opportunity to indicate how much you’d like to accept. Be sure to consider the origination fees (processing fee) for federal loans in your calculations.

You’re encouraged to accept the smallest amount of loans needed for the year. You can accept less than the offered amount, which is your maximum eligibility. If you accept less than the maximum amount offered, you have until the end of the term or year to accept additional amounts of the loan, which will be automatically offered. Login to CalCentral to accept loans. If you’ve already completed Entrance Counseling as well as the Master Promissory Note for that loan type, you will not need to complete them again.

You have the right to cancel all or part of any disbursement of a Federal Direct Loan without being charged interest or other loan fees as long as the cancellation is processed within 120 days of your loan’s original disbursement date. Please note that if you cancel or reduce a loan that has already disbursed, a charge will be applied to your account within approximately 2 to 3 business days and will create a balance due. You are responsible for paying this balance so that Berkeley can return the funds to the lender.

If it has been more than 120 days since your loan disbursement date, you cannot cancel your loan. However, you can make a payment to your servicer. Locate the servicer’s contact information by logging into your National Student Loan Data System account at www.nslds.ed.gov and clicking on the Financial Aid Review button. In order to ensure that your payment is applied to a particular loan, you must include a letter with your payment that has specific instructions about how to apply your payment. For example: “Please apply this $200 payment to my unsubsidized loan first disbursed on 01/10/09, paying off any accrued interest and then applying any remaining payment to the principal of that loan.”

All interest rates for federal student loans are fixed rates for the life of the loan. The interest rate varies depending on the loan type and (for most types of federal student loans) the first disbursement date of the loan. Interest rates on federal student loans are set by Congress. View current interest rates and origination fees on the Federal Student Aid website.

Before leaving school (transferring, withdrawing, canceling, taking a semester off, or graduating), be sure to complete your Exit Counseling. Keep in touch with your loan servicer. Update your loan servicer through the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) with any changes to your school attendance or contact information. Once you leave school for any reason, your 6-month grace period begins. If you do not re-enroll before 6 months, you will enter repayment. Toward the end of your 6-month grace period, you should receive information about beginning repayment. If you do not, contact the servicer(s) of your loans immediately and confirm that they have your correct contact number and last date of attendance. You begin repaying your loans after the 6-month grace period has passed.

If you plan on borrowing federal student loans, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the different repayment options you have. To make your payments more affordable, repayment plans can give you more time to repay your loans or can be based on your income. Use the Department of Education’s Repayment Estimator. On this site, you can either ‘log in’ to view your actual federal student loans, or you can ‘proceed’ to manually enter in estimated loan balances.

Private Student Loan Borrowers

Not necessarily; private loan disbursements are first applied to unpaid charges on your billing account. Once the outstanding charges are paid, the extra funds are then given to you as a financial aid refund.

All Other FAQs

Typically all financial aid (federal student loans and scholarships from the advanced degree programs office) disburse on the same date. Please keep an eye out for email communication from the Financial Aid Office for more information. Private student loan borrowers, once your loan is certified through the Financial Aid Office, a disbursement date will be set, however, you will need to follow up with your private loan lender to clarify when disbursement will actually occur on their end.

Financial aid is a term that is inclusive of all grants, scholarships, fellowships, but also student loans (federal or private.) The university uses a standard student budget called a Cost of Attendance (COA) when determining the limit on how much financial aid a student can accept per term. The COA is not the bill that you may get; it is the total estimated amount it will cost you to attend each year or term, including an estimate for non-billed expenses. Specifically, the COA includes not only tuition and fees, but estimates for room and board, allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and, if applicable, dependent care. The ADP office determines grant and scholarship offers independently and notifies recipients directly. Loan eligibility is generally the difference between the COA and gift aid.

If your financial aid payments exceed your charges, the extra funds may be issued to you as a refund, typically by the first week of instruction. The actual timing of your refund depends on when your financial aid was applied to your account. Check CalCentral to monitor your aid payment dates so that you can estimate the date of any expected refund. You will get an email letting you know when your refund is available either via Direct Deposit or as a paper check available for pickup at Cal Student Central. We strongly encourage Berkeley Law students to enroll in Direct Deposit if possible to avoid waiting in long lines at the beginning of the semester. Note: UC Berkeley does not require that students open an account with any financial institution. Students may choose to receive credit balances, or refunds, through any banking institution of their choice or via a paper refund check.

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.  

The following link provides a partial list of funding opportunities for LL.M international students. This list is for informational purposes and does not imply any connection with, or endorsement by, Berkeley Law:

International Funding Sources

Login to CalCentral. Click on “My Finances” and “View Awards.” To view semester amounts (fall and spring), click on “View Term Amount” under the Estimated Cost of Attendance.

Expenses may be taken into consideration to increase a student’s estimated COA, such as child care, computer expenses, uninsured medical costs, and relocation expenses (for entering students) for example. These adjustments to the standard student budget are reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the Berkeley Law Financial Aid Office for information about this process. If approved, typically this would result in an additional student loan offer, if eligible.

Glossary

Accrued interest The interest that a loan accumulates over time.

Alternative Loan These are private loans that are offered by financial institutions. Some students choose to or need to apply for private loans when the federal loans don’t cover their total educational costs. Interest rates and other policies vary by lender.

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.

Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request Formerly known as the budget appeal. This is a process that allows students to ask for adjustments in the amount of financial aid they might be offered by increasing the individual student budget. For example, if a student is paying rent and utilities higher than the average posted on the standard cost of attendance. In most instances, students will be offered additional loans.

Default 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 need-based aid at Berkeley Law.

Exit Counseling This is an opportunity to remind yourself of your rights and responsibilities as a student loan borrower. In turn, you must provide your lender with certain information about your plans after you leave school (for example, your current address, your expected employer, two personal references, etc.). If you graduate, withdraw or drop below half-time registration status, and you have borrowed a Federal Direct, Health Professions, or Perkins loan, you must complete the Exit Loan Counseling requirement. Completing the Exit requirement is only one step in keeping your loans in good standing. Remember that student loan indebtedness is reported to credit agencies. Until your loan is paid in full, you should continue to communicate with your lender regarding any changes in your address, school enrollment status or questions about making repayment.

Direct Deposit This is a safe and quick way to have your financial aid deposited directly into your savings or checking account. After your financial aid is applied to your balance in your account, if there is money remaining, you receive it as a “refund.” If you sign up for Direct Deposit you’ll have access to your refund quickly. If you choose not to sign up for Direct Deposit and you are eligible for a refund you will be issued a check that you must pick up from the Billing an Payment Services Office in University Hall. They do not mail checks.

Federal Direct Student Loan Program The full name is William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. The Direct Loan Program is offered by the Department of Education, and it provides students with a simple, inexpensive way to borrow money to pay for education after high school.

Financial Aid Refund If your financial aid payments exceed your charges, the extra funds may be issued to you as a refund, typically by the first week of instruction. The actual timing of your refund depends on when your financial aid was applied to your account.

Food Assistance Program UC Berkeley strives to ensure that all students have access to nutritious food. Currently enrolled students may be eligible for Cal 1 Card dollars or other food assistance. Click here for more information including eligibility criteria.

Forbearance 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.

Gift Aid: Financial aid, such as grants and scholarships, which does not need to be repaid.

Income-Driven Repayment Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one income-driven repayment plan. If your income is low enough, your payment could be as low as $0 per month. Click here for information about the different income-driven repayment plans available.

Origination fee Most federal student loans have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The loan fee is deducted proportionately from each loan disbursement you receive. This means the money you receive will be less than the amount you actually borrow. You’re responsible for repaying the entire amount you borrowed and not just the amount you received.

Outside Resource Any type of financial assistance that you are receiving from a donor outside of the University. Outside scholarships, prepaid tuition plans, and VA educational benefits are examples of outside resources.

Overaward An overaward may exist when the student’s need-based aid exceeds the student’s financial need, the student’s total financial aid awards exceed the cost of attendance, or both. In some but not all cases, financial aid will be reduced to resolve the overaward.

Private loans Education loans from private lenders, typically used to supplement the 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).

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. As of July 2012, the subsidized loan is no longer available to graduate level (including law) students.

Unsubsidized Student Loan Students who have unsubsidized loans are charged interest on the loan as soon as the loan is disbursed. Although students do not have to make payments while they are enrolled at least half-time in college, interest is being charged on the loan. All PLUS loans are unsubsidized.

Work-Study The Federal Work-Study program provides undergraduate and graduate students with part-time employment during the school year. The federal government pays a portion of the student’s salary, making it cheaper for departments and businesses to hire the student. For this reason, work-study students often find it easier to get a part-time job. Eligibility for Federal Work-Study is based on need.