Financial Aid Checklist & Timeline For Entering Students

This information applies to incoming 1L J.D. students for the 2020-21 academic year only. 

Incoming transfer students should use the Checklist for Transfer Students. Continuing JD students should use the Continuing Student Checklist. LL.M and J.S.D students should refer to the Checklist for LL.M./J.S.D. Students 


Entering First Year J.D. Students (2020-21)


Upon Applying for Admission

November – March

  • Learn about Entering Student Scholarships & Gift Aid and how and when Berkeley Law determines gift aid offers. Gift aid is not unlimited.

  • Submit the 2020-21 FAFSA*
    • While federal student loan offers will not appear on CalCentral until early April, students who submit the FAFSA and are eligible for federal students loans can typically expect to be offered student loans in the amount of the Cost of Attendance.
    • Be sure to include “UC Berkeley” school code #001312 on your application.
    • There is no hard deadline to complete the FAFSA, but we suggest completion by February 2020 to ensure your loan offers will be viewable on CalCentral in the spring/summer preceding the academic year. The FAFSA must be completed by this date to be considered for the GDP (Graduate Diversity Program) scholarship.
    • *Students without U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency, or one of the other eligible statuses for federal student aid, are not eligible to file the FAFSA. Students in this situation who qualify for CA AB540 (in-state residency for tuition purposes) should complete the CA DREAM Act application for UC Berkeley to be considered for some types of institutional aid, such as the Graduate Diversity Program (GDP) award. However no other aid from Berkeley Law is dependent on the CA DREAM Act. 

Mid April – May

  • View your financial aid offers, including federal student loans, through CalCentral
    • You may be notified of gift aid offers separately before or after you are offered federal student loans on CalCentral; you will always receive separate notification of a gift aid award via e-mail.
    • Review timely information regarding Entering Student Scholarships & Gift Aid and how and when Berkeley Law determines gift aid offers. Gift aid is not unlimited. Be sure to check your email for important deadlines and reminders as they relate to gift aid (grants, scholarships, etc.)
    • Submit the FAFSA if you would like to be considered for federal student loans (recommended deadline is 60-90 days before the term begins)
    • Students who submit the FAFSA and are eligible for federal student aid are typically offered student loans up to the Cost of Attendance. 
    • The earliest loan offers are viewable on CalCentral is late March.
    • Beginning in February, if we have received your FAFSA you should be able to view this as a completed task on CalCentral 1-2 weeks  after receiving a confirmation email from Federal Student Aid. 
    • You must accept Terms and Conditions on CalCentral before being able to view the status of your FAFSA application and any tasks (to-do’s), in addition to being able to view federal student loan offers.
  • Complete your Statement of Legal Residence after being admitted

    • Submit through CalCentral. This will show as a ‘task’ in CalCentral. It is important that this be done early as processing may take up to several weeks. You will be held responsible for paying non-resident fees until processing is complete.
    • Determine if you may qualify for in-state residency by reviewing the residency requirements for graduate students.
    • Residency related questions not answered in the link above can be directed to the campus’ Residence Affairs Unit.
  • Create a financial budget
    • Determine if you need to borrow loans to cover your educational expenses. Not sure how much you need? Visit our FAQ page.
      • If using financial aid to cover indirect expenses like books, rent, and travel, remember that the earliest financial aid refunds will be available is the first week of classes for the fall semester, and the first week of classes for the spring semester. We are not able to release financial aid refunds earlier than these time frames, so budget accordingly for your travel/book expenses prior to the term, as well as winter break expenses.


  • Complete tasks above if you have not done so already.
  • Accept any loans you wish to borrow on CalCentral
    • Federal student loan interest rates are typically set for the upcoming year in early July.
    • You will be able to indicate how much you want to accept after clicking the “Accept” button. Note that federal student loans are divided evenly between the fall and spring semesters and paid out on a semester basis. That said, it is possible to make loan amount adjustments (increase or decrease), so please contact us if you have any questions.
    • Be sure to consider the origination fees (processing fees) for federal loans in your calculations. Visit our FAQ page for more information, and use our Financial Aid Planning Calculator on our Fees and Cost of Attendance webpage.
    • Processing of the Graduate PLUS Loan, including the credit check, typically occurs in early August. If not approved for this loan due to adverse credit history, you will be notified and have the option of seeking an endorser.  Please note, that at Berkeley Law, graduate students are not required to complete their own credit check or separate loan application. Simply ensure that your online entrance counseling and master promissory note(s) have been completed and that you’ve accepted your loans on CalCentral. Notification of credit declines are sent via email. It is important to check your spam folder.
    • We encourage you to accept the smallest amount of loans needed for the year. You can accept less than the offered amount, which is your maximum current eligibility. If you accept less than the maximum amount offered to you, you have until the end of the term to accept additional amounts of the loan. Visit our FAQ page for more information on accepting and decreasing loans.
    • Complete Entrance Counseling and Master Promissory Note(s) if borrowing the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford or Graduate PLUS Loans
      • Must be completed online at before the loans can disburse and pay towards your bill or be refunded to you.
      • Entrance counseling only needs to be completed once for both the Unsubsidized and Graduate PLUS Loans. On the other hand, Master Promissory Notes must be completed for each loan type.
      • Allow 2-3 weeks for processing
  • Make sure you’ve created a financial budget (see above), and have accounted for winter break and summer expenses.
    • Financial aid is paid out on a term basis directly to your fees bill, typically a week prior to the start of the term. After financial aid applies to your tuition, fees, and university charges, if there are funds leftover, you may receive funds to use for indirect expenses like books, rent, and travel. This is called a refund.
    • The earliest financial aid refunds will be available is the first week of classes of each semester.

  • Notify the Law financial aid office if you will be using a private educational loan to cover your expenses. Most lenders require us certify your loan. Allow 4-6 weeks for processing.
  • Make sure to complete all financial aid tasks on CalCentral
    • Important Priority Deadline: If you were assigned a “Financial Aid Verification” task, the priority deadline to complete this task is June 30,2020 in order to ensure funding by the start of the term. Submitting documents by June 30 does not guarantee completion, as it can take several weeks for your documents to be reviewed. See more information on how to complete verification  here.
  • Sign up for Direct Deposit to get your refund as early as possible and avoid delays in getting your refund. Without Direct Deposit you may need to wait it long lines to pick up any refund checks.
  • Determine if you will be waiving SHIP and submit waiver by the deadline. This fee will otherwise be automatically assessed and be part of your semester fees bill.
  • Apply for outside agency scholarships
  • If a student parent, consider applying for the UC Parent Grant administered by the Berkeley Graduate Division. Applications due by July 15, 2020.


  • Complete July tasks if you have not already done so
  • Report private outside agency scholarships on CalCentral
    • It’s important to do this early because your financial aid, typically the Graduate PLUS Loan, may be reduced to ensure that the amount of your financial aid resources doesn’t exceed your Cost of Attendance. More information about how and where to mail scholarship checks can be found here.
  • Check your bill and refund status on CalCentral
    • Official billing statements will be available online through CalCentral by the beginning of August. Don’t worry when you don’t see financial aid on this bill (financial aid disburses on a specific date – refer to email communication from the Berkeley Law Financial Aid Office). However, make sure you’ve completed all of your tasks on CalCentral.
    • After you’re enrolled in classes, accepted financial aid will disburse directly to your fees bill on the anticipated disbursement date that is communicated via email from the Financial Aid Office.
    • Detailed billing information can be found on CalCentral under the My Finances Tab. This is where you can view your charges and credits like grants, scholarships, loans, tuition waivers, veterans benefits payments, third party billing payments, etc. 
    • Make sure your tuition and fees are paid by the fall semester deadline. The fees deadline is typically in mid-August, approximately one week after the first financial aid disbursement. Official bill due dates will be available on your CalCentral billing statement. 
    • Remember, financial aid refunds are only available as early as the first week of instruction. Be sure to sign up for Direct Deposit to get your refund as early as possible. 
  • If you have not completed your financial aid requirements or will be paying out of pocket in installments, consider enrolling in the Tuition and Fee Payment Plan (FPP) to avoid late fees and impacts on enrollment.


    Questions? Visit our FAQ page or Contact Us!

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