Prospective & Entering Students


Paying For Law School

Berkeley Law remains a good value in legal education in spite of 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 you to limit your student loan debt, we encourage you to not work during your first year of law school and focus instead on academic excellence. Each year, in addition to the scholarships and grants which are awarded to entering students, several scholarships and fellowships are made available from within and outside of Berkeley Law for continuing students. We encourage you to follow our JD Financial Aid Blog and visit our website regularly for updates on these opportunities. Also keep in mind that the law school provides a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) to help you repay your student loans if you enter lower-paying public interest employment upon graduation. Although Berkeley Law and the campus provide scholarships, fellowships, grants, Federal Stafford Loans, and some Federal Perkins Loans, a growing number of students are obtaining federal Graduate PLUS loans in order to make ends meet. Without a Graduate PLUS loan, 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. Back to top  

Estimated Expenses And Student Budget

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 budget 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 budget is designed to reflect the average costs for living in the Bay Area. Adjustments can be made to reflect actual costs if the budget 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. The Budget Appeal Form is available for students wishing to increase their budget starting in August for the following academic year.

Federal regulations prohibit the Financial Aid Office from providing Title IV funds to students for covering the following expenses: 

  • automobile payments, repairs and insurance
  • bar review courses
  • consumer debt (e.g., credit card payments, etc.)
  • interview costs

The standard budget 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  

JD Program Expenses

While precise fee levels 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, the 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. Living expenses 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  

Concurrent Degree Program Expenses

Tuition and fees for concurrent degree programs (other than the JSP program) are based on the same tuition and fees that other JD 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  

Overview of Financial Aid Programs

Information on financial aid opportunities for JD 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  

Need-Based Grants

The Need-Based Grant program provides grants to eligible JD students who demonstrate financial need. If a grant is awarded it is applied directly to the recipients CARS billing account for payment towards fees. Back to top  

Berkeley Law Scholarships and Fellowships

The law school administers an array of privately donated and gift funds that are awarded on the basis of need, merit or both. Keep in mind some of the scholarship and fellowship programs have specific eligibility criteria and application procedures. The law school awards scholarships and fellowships to some students upon admission. Admitted students are encouraged to indicate interest in particular scholarships and provide additional information to the Scholarship Committee through the Admitted Student Website. The scholarships typically range from $500 to $10,000. More information can be found on our Entering Student Scholarships page. Back to top  

Outside Scholarships and Fellowships

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 which 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 announces these opportunities on the JD Financial Aid Blog, but the information can also be found on our Outside Scholarships page. Back to top  

Educational Loans

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. Loans with the most favorable terms are always made available first to offset student need. Keep in mind that federal student loans guaranteed by the federal government 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 (Stafford, Perkins, or Graduate PLUS) programs 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 UC 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 lenders’ needs are more immediate or if your lender does not receive enrollment information from the National Student Clearinghouse, you should obtain an Educational Deferment Form from that lender and submit it to UC Berkeley’s Office of the Registrar. Back to top  

Federal Direct Stafford Loans

Students eligible for loans at Berkeley Law 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 and complete an Entrance Counseling session online before borrowing their first loan at Berkeley Law. In their second and third years at Berkeley Law, students do not need to resubmit the MPN and EC in most cases. However, the FAFSA must be completed every year. Information on the application process is available on our Loans page. Back to top  

Perkins Loans

The UC Berkeley campus offers the Perkins Loan to some students, primarily non-resident first-year students. This loan is interest-free until nine months after graduation or after the student drops to less than six units. Like the Direct Loan, a separate Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling session must be completed before the first payment can be made. If your financial aid award includes a Perkins Loan, the instructions for completing the Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling session will be e-mailed to you by the campus. Back to top  

Graduate PLUS and Private Educational Loans

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


Work-Study Program

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  

Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Berkeley Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) provides financial assistance in student loan repayment for public interest-oriented graduates working 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 Leah Sime, Associate Director of LRAP, early fall term in their first year at Berkeley Law. Back to top