Paying For Law School
Berkeley Law remains a good value in legal education despite recent increases in fees and tuition. The law school and the campus provide scholarships, grants, and loans to help students meet the cost of attendance. Although working will help to limit your student loan debt, we encourage you not to work during your first year of law school and to focus instead on academics. Each year, in addition to the scholarships and grants that are awarded to entering students, several scholarships and fellowships are made available from within and outside of Berkeley Law for continuing students. Also keep in mind that the law school provides a competitive Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) to help you repay your student loans if you enter low-paying public interest employment upon graduation. Although Berkeley Law and the campus provide scholarships, fellowships, grants, Federal Stafford Loans, a growing number of students also obtain federal Graduate PLUS loans or private loans. Without additional loans, 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. Once you have a plan, we urge you to apply early for financial aid, concurrently with your application for admission.
Annual fees and tuition are determined by your residency status. California residents comprise approximately 50 percent of the entering class. Residents are required to pay fees determined annually by the U.C. Board of Regents. Non-residents are responsible for paying both fees and non-resident tuition. Non-resident students may petition for California residency status upon completion of the first year of study, provided they meet university requirements. Information about establishing resident status can be found on our Legal Resident Information page. The nine-month Cost of Attendance (COA) 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 COA is designed to reflect the average costs for living in the Bay Area. Adjustments can be made to reflect actual costs if the COA 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. A Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request form is available for students who wish to increase their COA in September for the following academic year.
|Federal regulations prohibit the Financial Aid Office from providing Title IV funds to students for covering the following expenses:
The standard COA 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 encourage students to stay within these budgetary guidelines to ensure that their future debt will not grow larger than necessary. Back to top
While precise fee levels may change each year, and the U.C. Regents have endorsed fee increases for students in professional-degree programs in the past, Berkeley Law continues to be one of the best values in legal education. Components of the cost of attendance can be found on the Fees & Cost of Attendance page. Keep in mind that fees are subject to change without notice. Paying at least a portion of fees entitles students to use campus libraries, 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. The cost of living in the Bay Area is high. The student budget includes estimated average expenses for a nine-month academic year, based on current year costs, but students should take into account their own spending habits and the possibility of unforeseen expenses. Updated fee and budget information is posted on our website as it becomes available. Back to top
Tuition and fees for concurrent degree programs (other than the J.S.P. 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. Back to top
Information on financial aid opportunities for J.D. students can be found on the Types of Aid page. All required applications and forms must be submitted in a timely fashion for consideration 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. Back to top
The Berkeley Law Grant program provides grants to eligible J.D. students who demonstrate financial need. If a grant is awarded it is applied directly to the recipient’s billing account for payment towards fees. To apply, be sure to follow the instructions on the Financial Aid Checklist for Entering Students. Back to top
There are two ways to be identified as a potential scholarship candidate. Every applicant has the opportunity to self-identify for a few very specific scholarships by completing the Scholarships Section of the admissions application and submitting any required supplemental materials. Please read the instructions carefully and adhere to all deadlines. More information can be found in the law school admissions application. For example, applicants to the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship must submit an application by December 15th. Every applicant is also considered for scholarships based on the materials they submit as part of their law school admissions application. Reviewers can indicate that they believe an applicant would be a strong candidate for a scholarship in broad categories such as “merit,” “need,” “social justice,” “environmental,” etc. More information can be found on our Entering Student Scholarships page. Back to top
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 that 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 publishes these opportunities on our Outside Scholarships page. Back to top
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. Note that federally-insured student loans 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 programs (Stafford, Perkins, or Graduate PLUS) 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 U.C. Berkeley’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, contact the Law Financial Aid Office. Back to top
Students who are eligible for loans at 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 (MPN) and complete an online Entrance Counseling (EC) session before borrowing their first loan at Berkeley Law. In most cases, students do not need to resubmit the MPN and EC in their second and third years. However, the FAFSA must be completed every year. Information on the application process is available on our Loans page. Back to top
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. Back to top
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. Back to top
Berkeley Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides financial assistance in student loan repayment for public interest-oriented graduates who work at nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Graduates who meet the income and employment requirements can receive financial assistance with their student loan payments once they enter repayment. Visit our LRAP page for information on program eligibility, policies, and loan repayment strategies. Students interested in pursuing a public interest career after graduation are encouraged to schedule a counseling session with an LRAP advisor fall term in their first year at Berkeley Law. A meeting with an LRAP advisor is required prior to participation in LRAP. Back to top