Financial Literacy

Berkeley Law Resources

Discover live and recorded presentations and webinars on our Info Sessions page, or check out the Berkeley Law Events Calendar.

Book a one-on-one appointment with a Financial Aid or LRAP advisor.

Spending & Budgeting

Developing a personal budget for the years you spend as a law school student will help you keep your expenses low with the ultimate goal of graduating with the lowest debt burden possible.

  • Create a weekly budget (see external resources for more budget templates).
  • Keep track of receipts, bank statements, pay stubs, bills, and other payment records or maintain a daily log for future reference.
  • List income and anticipated expenses like rent, utilities, food, transportation, etc. to determine whether your expenses exceed your income/other funding. Aim to increase discretionary income and reduce expenses.
  • Cost of Attendance Adjustment: If you incur additional costs such as a computer purchase, medical bills, or relocation expenses within the current academic year, you can submit a Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request to increase your loan eligibility. You can learn more about the process and complete an application here.

Student Loans

A law school education is usually funded through student loans. More information about the various types of loans can be found on our loans page.

  • Interest rate reductions are often more valuable than principal reductions (read the full article here).
  • Read the fine print carefully. All the important things to know about your loan–fees, interest rate, grace period, etc.–will be in the promissory note.
  • Remember to set up auto debit of your monthly payment in the way the lender requires.
  • Make monthly payments on time. Otherwise, you risk defaulting on your loans.
  • Federal vs. private loans: consider the benefits that come with federal loans (such as income-driven repayment, deferment and forbearance, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program) before applying for a private loan.
  • Co-signers: To get the best interest rate on a private student loan, consider applying with a credit-worthy co-signer.
  • Compare costs: Analyze and compare different private lenders for hidden costs (i.e. some may charge an insurance premium at the beginning of repayment period). 
  • LRAP ineligibility: If there’s the possibility that you will enroll in Berkeley’s LRAP program, remember that private loans do not qualify.

Loan Repayments and Managing Debt

  • Overview: Loan payments will vary depending on the loan type, how much you owe, and the repayment option you chose. It is important to establish a budget and determine how much money you will need to borrow in loans. Don’t borrow more than you need! You can always return unused loans before the end of the semester by contacting the Financial Aid Office.
  • Monthly payments: If you are having difficulty making monthly loan payments, there are options.
    • You can apply for an income-driven repayment plan to reduce your monthly payment amount to as low as $0 a month.
    • In certain situations, loans can qualify for deferment (loan payments are temporarily suspended and interest does not accrue on subsidized loans). 
    • If you do not qualify for deferment but are experiencing financial hardship and difficulty making loan payments, you may qualify for forbearance
  • Key terms: See other loan related key terms here.

For other information on loan repayment and LRAPs, see the following links: