Applying for Loans
Accepting and Modifying Your Loans
Loan Options
Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loans
Perkins Loans (no longer available)
Graduate PLUS Loans
Private Educational Loans
Loans Options for Bar Exam and Study
Short Term Emergency Loans
Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request


Loans are the principal source of aid available to law students to fund their education. Loans with the most favorable terms are always made available first to offset student financial need. The majority of educational loans are provided by the federal government.

Federal student loans are available to most students regardless of income and provide a range of repayment options including income-based repayment plans and loan forgiveness benefits, which other education loans are not required to provide.  Click here for more details.

Please note that only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to receive federal student loans. If you are not eligible for federal or private educational loans, neither Berkeley Law nor the University of California, Berkeley will be able to provide you with an institutional loan.


Applying for Loans

To submit a general application for federal loans, the following are required:

For more information on the timeline for applying for financial aid, including loans, see our entering student checklist or continuing student checklist.


Please keep in mind:

  • Stafford Loans take roughly three weeks to process after we receive your FAFSA
  • Graduate PLUS Loans require a credit check and can take roughly four weeks to process
  • Additional time may be required if your MPN or Entrance Counseling is delayed or incomplete
  • The campus stops processing loan applications about one month before the end of the spring semester for that academic year

Students applying for loans during the academic year must therefore plan to submit their applications one month before they need the disbursement and at least two months before the end of the spring semester for that academic year. It is your responsibility to abide by each loan’s individual timeline and to stay informed of any changes.


Accepting and Modifying Your Loans

In order to receive your loans, you must apply for loans each year and accept the amount you wish to borrow in the Award Details page of your CalCentral account. Each year your accepted loans will be disbursed in two equal payments minus the loan origination fee; typically half for fall semester and half for spring semester. Please allow at least two or three weeks for the disbursement of the accepted loan, providing all administrative requirements are complete. If you expect to use loans to assist in paying your fees, it is recommended that you accept the loan(s) by the beginning of July prior to the beginning of the fall term. Please note that any financial aid awards you receive subsequent to your initial offer will reduce your eligibility for loans, as your total financial aid, including loans, cannot exceed your Cost of Attendance.

For more information on the timeline for applying for, accepting, and modifying loans throughout the year, see our entering student checklist or continuing student checklist and Frequently Asked Questions.


Loan Options

The table below provides interest rates for Direct Loans first disbursed on or after July 1, 2018 and before July 1, 2019. Origination fees are reflective of Direct Loans first disbursed on or after October, 1 2018 and before October 1, 2019.

*Loans disbursed after October 1, 2019 (and before October 1, 2020) will have new origination fees: Federal Direct Unsubsidized 1.059 and Federal Direct Grad PLUS 4.236

  Federal Direct Unsubsidized Federal Direct Grad PLUS Private Educational Loans University Bar Study Loan Private Bar Study Loans
 Restrictions  FAFSA eligible  FAFSA eligible, subject to credit check  Subject to credit check  Limited number of loans to graduating 3Ls  Subject to credit check
 Origination Fee  1.062%  4.248%    
 Interest Rate  6.6% fixed, IR set annually in the summer  7.6% fixed, IR set annually in the summer  varies  8.0% fixed varies
 Maximum Annual Loan Amount  $20,500 Cost of Attendance minus accepted aid Cost of Attendance minus accepted aid  $4,200 varies, typically $1-$15K
 Grace Period  6 months  6 months  Usually 6-8 months  8 months varies
 Interest accrues while in school  Yes  Yes  varies  N/A
 Eligible for federal Income Driven Repayment  (IDR)  Yes  Yes  No  No No
 Eligible for PSLF  Yes  Yes  No  No No
 Eligible for LRAP (JD grads only)  Yes  Yes No  No No

Visit for the most up to date information regarding student loan interest rates and origination fees

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

A maximum of $20,500 per year is available. Interest accrues on the Stafford Loans during periods of enrollment and continues through repayment, which begins six months following graduation or after a student’s enrollment status drops to less than half-time. Repayment is made over a 10-25 year term with no prepayment penalty.

In August 2013, Congress passed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. The changes go into effect on July 1, 2013 and affects all Federal Direct Loans for graduate and professional students for the 2013-14 academic year and beyond. Click here for details.

For more information about accepting loans, please visit our FAQ page.


Perkins Loans*

* The authority for colleges to make new Perkins Loans ended on September 30, 2015, with a few exceptions

This loan is interest-free until nine months after graduation or after the student drops to less than six units. At that time interest begins to accrue at 5 %. A separate promissory note and entrance loan counseling must be completed for this loan before a payment can be made. If your financial aid award includes a Perkins Loan, the instructions for completing the promissory note and entrance loan counseling will be e-mailed to you by the campus once you accept a portion of the loan. The e-mail will contain information on accessing the required Promissory Note and Entrance Interview for this loan.


Graduate PLUS Loans

Sample Grad PLUS Loan Offer
$79,228 Academic Year Cost of Attendance
-$10,000 Scholarship/Grant
-$20,500 Direct Stafford Loan
=$48,728 Grad PLUS Loan

Students who need to borrow funds beyond the Stafford loan limits will be able to choose between the federal Graduate PLUS Loan (“Grad PLUS”) and a private educational loan.

The Direct Grad PLUS being offered at UC Berkeley has a fixed interest rate and no annual or aggregate borrowing limits (other than cost of attendance less other financial aid received). While credit checks are required to be eligible for the Grad PLUS, the credit criteria are less strict than those associated with private student loans. Furthermore, if you do not meet the credit requirements for a Grad PLUS, you may still obtain the loan with an endorser who does meet the credit requirements.

Q: What is considered to be an adverse credit history?

A: 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.

We encourage you to determine how much money you will need for the academic year and take out as little as possible to reduce your debt burden upon graduating. If you accept less than the maximum amount offered to you, you have until late April of the spring semester to accept additional amounts of the loan. We are available to assist you in determining the appropriate amount of loan to borrow.

For more information about accepting loans, please visit our FAQ page.


Private Educational Loans

Although we encourage students to carefully weigh the benefits of federal education loans compared to private educational loans, we make both types of loans available to our students. To apply for a private educational loan, submit an application with the lender of your choice and notify our office of your pending application. You may use any lender, but we suggest that you compare their loan terms with those on the University of California’s Preferred Lender List. Maximum eligibility is based on the cost of attendance less gift-aid received. If you have questions about your eligibility for a private loan, send an email to Private loan funds are disbursed electronically from lenders to the UC Berkeley campus and applied to a student’s billing account beginning in early August for the fall term and early January for the spring term. Application and processing times vary.

Disclaimer:  The Financial Aid Office does not receive, and will not accept, inducements from lenders in exchange for inclusion in the Preferred Lender List, nor does Berkeley Law share in the profits from student loans. Click here for the University of California Code of Conduct in Regard to Preferred Lender Arrangements.


Loan Options for Bar Exam and Bar Study




Increase Federal Loans:

Add Direct Bar Exam Fees to Cost of Attendance 

You may increase your loan eligibility to specifically cover direct bar exam fees. In order to request an increase, you must follow the Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request (COAAR) procedure.  The COAAR process and deadline information is listed on our Cost of Attendance Adjustments page. Should your request be approved, you will receive an offer to accept additional loan eligibility via CalCentral.  Once accepted and processed, the funds will be disbursed to you in the form of a refund (make sure to set up Direct Deposit on CalCentral or you will need to pick up a check in person). Deadline to submit any COAAR is typically April 1st each year.




University Bar Study Loans

These loans are intended to cover bar exam costs and living expenses while preparing for the examination. The application will be available on our Berkeley Law Forms page each spring. Check here intermittently for the form release date and deadline. This loan is not a federal student loan and therefore does not qualify for LRAP and cannot be consolidated with federal student loans. The University Bar Study Loan is not available to students who are blocked or have a university account that is past due.

  • Loan amount: up to $5,500
  • What expenses the loan covers: Bar exam review courses, preparatory materials, bar exam deposits and fees, and living expenses
  • Interest Rate: 8% fixed
  • Other requirements: SSN and U.S. address where you can receive mail permanently is currently required
  • How to apply: Berkeley Law Forms page



Private Bar Study Loans

Private educational loans, also known as alternative loans, are loans made by a private bank or lending agency for educational purposes. International students may qualify if the loan is co-signed by a creditworthy US citizen or permanent resident. Most likely, a US co-signer and SSN will be required. Make sure that you have considered all of your federal loan options before considering a private loan.

The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) maintains a Preferred Lender List. Choose UC Berkeley and then search “Bar” on the Program Type menu. 

  • Loan amount: Varies, $1k – $16K
  • What expenses the loan covers: Bar exam review courses, preparatory materials, bar exam deposits and fees, and living expenses
  • Interest Rate: Varies, 4.62% – 11.49%
  • Other requirements: Typically requires that borrower be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or a foreign borrower applying with a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Application availability varies by lender. Typically, students may apply if they are in their last year of law school. If a student has graduated, they must have graduated within a certain number of days (again, varies by lender).
  • How to apply: Directly with lender 



Short Term Emergency Loans

There are two short-term loans available to help students through unexpected financial difficulties. These funds are available within a short period of time and are expected to be repaid accordingly.

  • The UC Berkeley Emergency Loan is an interest-free loan which must be repaid within 60 days. There is a processing fee required to obtain the loan. Click here for updated information on the UC Berkeley Emergency Loan.

Cost of Attendance Adjustment Requests

Students whose financial aid budgets do not reflect their actual costs may submit a Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request (COAAR) to increase the student budget for additional loan eligibility. Allowable costs include relocation expenses for the first year, greater-than-average rent and utilities, computer purchase for law school ($3,000 maximum and purchase can be no earlier than July), uninsured medical and dental expenses, and child care expenses. A list of allowable expenses can be found on the forms webpage. The Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request Form information is available on our Forms page after the start of the fall term and should be submitted to the Berkeley Law Financial Aid Office.


SB 1289 Disclosure

The State of California requires that you be told the following.

Students considering student loans need to be aware of the differences between federal student loans and private student loans:

  • Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options including, but not limited to, income-based and income-contingent repayment plans, as well as loan forgiveness benefits that private lenders are not required to provide.
  • Federal direct loans are available to most students regardless of income. Other qualification criteria do apply. For more information, please visit
  • Private student loan lenders can offer variable interest rates that can increase or decrease over time, depending on market conditions.
  • The interest rate on a private loan may depend on the borrower’s and/or co-signer’s credit rating.

Some UC campuses offer students their own private (institutional) student loans. Students offered a UC institutional private student loan should know that: Private student loans have a range of interest rates and fees and students should determine the interest rate of, and any fees associated with, the private student loan included in their financial aid award package before accepting the loan.  Students should contact the lender of the private student loan or their UC campus’ financial aid office if they have any questions about a private student loan.

  • Interest rates on UC loans will be fixed, not variable
  • UC loans can have a range of interest rates
  • UC loans are not awarded based on the credit history of the borrower
  • UC loans do not require a co-signer.