FAQ

Applying for Financial Aid

The university uses a standard student budget called a Cost of Attendance (COA) when offering federal and campus-based financial aid awards. 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. The COA includes tuition and fees, room and board, allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and, if applicable, dependent care. The law school determines grant and scholarship offers independently and notifies recipients directly. Grant and scholarship awards made by the law school are typically 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. Visit the “How To Apply” portion of our website for more information.

Entering Students:

  • You are required to complete the FAFSA for federal student loan eligibility.  Berkeley Law does not require parent information on the FAFSA.

Continuing Students:

  • You are required to complete the FAFSA for federal student loan eligibility.  Parent information on the FAFSA is required only if you are applying for need based Continuing Student Scholarships and under the age of 30.  Continuing students do not submit an SGA survey.

This can vary from student to student and is based on how a few questions are answered throughout the Supplemental Gift Aid survey (SGA). There will be an area on the survey where you can further explain your situation if your answers/survey does not accurately reflect your financial situation. (NOTE: the FAFSA uses different criteria to define ‘independent’, therefore, you may not be required to enter parent information on the FAFSA but will be required to on the SGA.

Entering Student Scholarships & Gift Aid webpage: After you are admitted we encourage you to submit the supplemental gift aid application (SGA) within one month. You can expect to receive an email with instructions on how to submit this supplemental gift aid application.  This form will primarily ask about financial obstacles you’ve faced or are facing, which can then be taken into consideration when determining your gift aid offer. Applying early means you have a better chance of receiving gift aid, especially for funding that has a financial need component. While the supplemental gift aid application is optional, there are questions on this application that are independent of financial need and background. We therefore encourage all admitted students to submit the SGA. If you choose not to submit the SGA, the information contained in your admissions application will still be used to determine a gift aid offer, therefore it is not required.

Disbursement and Refund

Financial aid is set to disburse around August 13th for the fall 2018 semester. To check if your aid has disbursed click on “My Finances” then “View Account Details”.

Or, click on “My Finances” and “View Awards”. 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 fall aid disburses, this will show as “PARTIALLY PAID”:

Financial aid is anticipated to begin disbursing by the first week of classes and before the bill due date for each semester. Your accepted financial aid will electronically disburse towards your tuition and fees bill first. Once your bill is at a zero balance, any excess funds will be returned to you in the form of a refund. The fastest way to receive a refund is by making sure Direct Deposit is set up up to at least two weeks in advance. See more information here

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 (fall 2016 and beyond) 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 Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or as a paper check available for pickup at Cal Student Central. We strongly encourage Berkeley Law students to enroll in EFT 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. 

Cost of Attendance and Fees

The standard student budget accounts for direct and estimated indirect expenses for the 9 month academic year. The Cost of Attendance does not include expenses for periods of non-enrollment, such as summer. Professional LL.M. students should contact us for information specific to the PLLM program. Click here for J.D. Cost of Attendance information. A student’s financial aid package (made up of a combination of federal student loans, gift aid, outside scholarships, private loans, fee remissions, etc.) cannot exceed the COA.

How do I view my bill details?

To view your bill details go to the “My Finances” tab and click on “Details” next to the “Billing Summary Fall 2018” box.

On the right side of the page you will see the “Activity” box. Click on the “Balance” filter, and select “All Transactions”.

If financial aid has been applied to your bill, then you will see it in green font as an “Award”. If your financial aid has covered all charges on your account and there is still an amount left over, then this amount will be given to you in the form of a financial aid refund and you will be able to see this on the same page, listed as a “Refund”.

**This image corresponds to the 2015-16 academic year, values and dates for 2018-19 may vary**

How do I pay my fees and tuition?

Your first e-Bill for the semester will be available approximately one month 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 about 10 days before instruction begins, as long as you meet eligibility requirements. Eligibility requirements include, but are not limited to, being enrolled at least half-time, not having any registration blocks, tasks, or holds. Payments can be made via CalCentral directly to your balance. Please click here for more information.

What is the Fee Payment Plan?

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.

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. The Berkeley Law Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request process is on our Forms webpage and opens sometime in September of each academic year. If approved, typically this would result in an additional Graduate PLUS Loan offer, if eligible.

To view your bill details go to the “My Finances” tab and click on “Details” next to the “Billing Summary Fall 2018” box.

Your first e-Bill for the semester will be available approximately one month 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 about 10 days before instruction begins, as long as you meet eligibility requirements. Eligibility requirements include, but are not limited to, being enrolled at least half-time, not having any registration blocks, tasks, or holds. Payments can be made via CalCentral directly to your balance. Please click here for more information.

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.

Borrowing Loans

Login to CalCentral (fall 2016 and beyond). 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 for the year. Accepted loans will be disbursed evenly between fall and spring semester. Be sure to consider the origination fees (processing fee) for federal loans in your calculations. Processing of the Graduate PLUS Loan, including the credit check, typically occurs in early August. 

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. Loan processing typically begins four weeks before classes begin each semester. To receive a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan, you must be a graduate or professional student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school in a program leading to a graduate or professional degree or certificate, not have an adverse credit history; and meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid. 

For purposes of qualifying for a Direct PLUS Loan*, you’re considered to have an adverse credit history if:

You have one or more debts with a total combined outstanding balance greater than $2,085 that are 90 or more days delinquent as of the date of the credit report, or that have been placed in collection or charged off (written off) during the two years preceding the date of the credit report; or

  • During the five years preceding the date of the credit report, you have been subject to a
    o default determination,
    o discharge of debts in bankruptcy,
    o foreclosure,
    o repossession,
    o tax lien,
    o wage garnishment, or
    o write-off of a federal student aid debt.

 

*The information above is accurate for Direct PLUS Loan credit checks performed on or after March 29, 2015.

You have the option 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 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 you are looking to return loan amounts that have been given to you as a financial aid refund and you have not authorized Direct Deposit then your refund will be mailed to you as a check. Please do not return the check to Berkeley or send a payment to your servicer if you cancel your loan. Be prepared to send your payment to your bill.

If it has been more than 120 days since the loan you are looking to cancel has disbursed, you cannot cancel the 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.”

To reduce/cancel a loan please complete the Berkeley Law Loan Modification Request Form.

 

If this link is not available to you, please email the financial aid office.

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

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.

Yes, if you meet all eligibility criteria, you can accept loans throughout the academic year. Professional LL.M. students should contact us for additional information.

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. If your additional eligibility is not automatically offered, please email the Financial Aid Office. Please plan on accepting any additional loans at least four weeks before the end of a semester for timely processing. If you are accepting additional loans during the spring semester, please keep in mind that your loan period expires at the end of the academic year, and we recommend accepting at least four weeks prior to the end of the spring semester. 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.

Please plan on accepting any additional loans at least four weeks before the end of a semester for timely processing. If you are accepting additional loans during the spring semester, please keep in mind that your loan period with your lender expires at the end of the academic year, and we recommend accepting at least four weeks prior to the end of the spring semester.

No, 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.

Interest accrues daily on your student loan from the day it’s disbursed until the day your loan balance reaches zero.

Use this simple formula to calculate your daily interest accrual:

          Interest rate × current principal balance ÷ number of days in the year = daily interest

           source: https://myfedloan.org/help-center/faq/interest-faq.shtml

  1. monstrate financial independence for the past five calendar years.  This status of independence must be formally approved by our office. It is recommended that all students who wish to be considered financially independent based on this exception provide parental information on the required applications. If it is determined that a student is financially independent, then the submitted parental information will be omitted and grant eligibility will be recalculated. Absent complete parent information, dependent applicants will not be considered for grant eligibility.  If you are appealing for financial independence, please contact us to obtain the Statement of Independence appeal form. You will be asked to show (with a signed statement and documentation) that:
  • You have not received more than $10,000 total from your parent/s in the prior five years and explanation of how you have supported yourself during those years. 

Managing Student Loans

If you do not know what type of federal student loans you borrowed while in attendance at UC Berkeley, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) web site. To verify any lines of credit that you have, including private student loans, request a copy of your free annual credit report.

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. If you will be using Berkeley’s LRAP program, we strongly encourage you to speak with an LRAP advisor for more information.

Typically your federal loan servicer should receive your fall semester enrollment information in a timely manner through UC Berkeley’s use of the National Student Loan Clearinghouse.  This is done automatically for entering students.  If you are in repayment and need to send a deferment form to your lender as soon as possible, please download and fill out an In-School Deferment Form from you lender’s website.  You will need to send your In-School Deferment Form to your lender by uploading it through their website, faxing, or mailing.  Before you can return your form, you will need a Financial Aid Officer at Berkeley Law to certify it.

Before leaving school (transferring, withdrawing, cancelling, taking a semseter off, or graduating), be sure to complete your Exit CounselingKeep 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.

Yes. J.D. students considering public service careers are encouraged to discuss their options with a Berkeley Law LRAP Advisor well before graduation. If you are considering applying to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or participating in the LRAP Program, it’s highly encouraged to schedule an appointment in your 1L year. In order to participate in the LRAP, you must meet with an LRAP advisor prior to graduation.

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.