Entering Student Scholarships & Gift Aid

We realize that financing a legal education is of great concern to many prospective and admitted students. We encourage you to review all of the types of aid available for financing your legal education.



Review Process & Timeline

Gift Aid Sources

Responding to a Gift Aid Offer

Your Financial Aid Package

Interaction With Alumni and Donors

Deferring Gift Aid



Review & Timeline

 

How do I apply for gift aid?

 

As an applicant to Berkeley Law, the best thing you can do to make yourself competitive in the gift aid review process is simply to prepare and submit the strongest overall admissions application possible. Every applicant has the opportunity to also self-identify for a select number of specific scholarships by completing the Scholarships Section of the J.D. admissions application and by submitting any required supplemental materials. All instructions for these particular scholarships are included in the J.D. Admissions application. Please read the instructions carefully and adhere to all deadlines. Please be aware that applicants to the Berkeley Law Opportunity Scholarship must submit an admissions application and supplemental materials by December 15th.

After you are admitted we encourage you to submit the supplemental gift aid application (SGA) within one month. You can expect to receive an email with instructions on how to submit this supplemental gift aid application.  This form will primarily ask about financial obstacles you’ve faced or are facing, which can then be taken into consideration when determining your gift aid offer. Applying early means you have a better chance of receiving gift aid, especially for funding that has a financial need component. While the supplemental gift aid application is optional, there are questions on this application that are independent of financial need and background. We therefore encourage all admitted students to submit the SGA. If you choose not to submit the SGA, the information contained in your admissions application will still be used to determine a gift aid offer, therefore it is not required.

Students admitted through the Binding Early Decision program will have the opportunity to submit the SGA beginning in February.

Students who deferred admission from the prior year will be invited to submit the SGA in December.

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Do I need to reapply each year?

 

Eligibility for most awards is determined prior to your first year. Awards are automatically renewed up to a total of three years (six semesters) provided that you maintain full-time enrollment. Waiving the need to apply each year allows students to create a financial plan for all three years of the JD program. While initial eligibility for need-based aid is subject to verification, summer earnings have no impact on awards.

That said, continuing students will have the opportunity to submit the Continuing Student scholarship application in the summers after 1L and 2L years. You are also encouraged to submit applications for external (outside) scholarships prior to your 1L year and throughout your studies at Berkeley Law.

 

What does Berkeley Law use to determine gift aid offers?

 

When reviewing a candidate for gift aid, we conduct a comprehensive review of the following factors:

  • A history of leadership, demonstrated interest in innovation and entrepreneurship. Individuals who identify problems or needs and then step into those spaces to address them with strong analytical skills and creativity.
  • Substantial knowledge about and/or a long-standing commitment to a specific field (patent law, banking regulation, etc.), or to a specific population (e.g., the LGBTQ community, youth in foster care, etc.), or having extensive research experience.
  • A multi-disciplinary perspective shaped by a broad range of personal, academic, and/or professional experiences. Someone who is driven to help solve the emerging problems that our society and the world face.
  • Significant public service or policy-related work. This may include military service.
  • A record of success that would not have been predicted given personal or family background (first in family to attend college, geographic isolation, etc.)
  • Past or current experience of extreme financial hardship (low-income or impoverished background, having qualified for need-based assistance such as TANF or SSI, qualifying for Pell Grant as an undergraduate, etc.)

In general, the awards range from $15,000 – $75,000 ($5,000 – $25,000 per year). Gift aid offers that far exceed this amount are possible but exceedingly rare.

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How and when will I be notified?

 

Gift aid award recipients will be notified by e-mail. You may receive a gift aid offer as early as one month after being admitted, but not before December 15. Your admissions application (and supplemental gift aid application if submitted within 30 days of being admitted) will be considered when determining your gift aid offer. Prior to the deadline to submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR), most gift aid award offers will be viewable on the student portal, CalCentral.

Unfortunately there are more qualified admitted students than gift aid available. If you have not received a gift aid offer by March 30, then you should assume that we were not able to make you a gift aid offer. We encourage you to apply through the reconsideration process, which begins on March 20 and closes on May 1.

As is always the case, students who have been awarded gift aid may withdraw admission to attend other schools. We will re-award those funds through the reconsideration process which begins March 20.

If  it is determined that we will not be able to offer gift aid, we will do our best to notify you  via email. However, we cannot guarantee a specific decision date, nor can we adapt our process to fit within the response deadlines of other law schools. If you have a pending offer at another law school that will not allow you to learn about offers from other schools, our best advice is to contact the other school directly and to request an extension.

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Does Berkeley Law offer need-based aid?

 

Yes. Berkeley Law provides need-based aid to J.D. students to supplement other aid in an effort to decrease the potential debt burden incurred by students who have experienced or are experiencing extreme financial hardship. However, the scholarships, grants and fellowships offered as a part of gift aid packages differ for each entering class, as do the specific criteria for those awards. Many are based on a combination of financial need and merit. A few awards, such as the Berkeley Law Grant, are solely based on past or present severe financial hardship. Regardless of eligibility criteria, most gift aid awards we offer are renewable for all three years of your legal studies as we do not re-evaluate financial need on an annual basis.

Therefore, while a portion of a student’s gift aid award from Berkeley Law may include need-based aid, funding is made possible through donations to various scholarship and fellowship funds. It is for this reason that a student may see a total gift aid award offer instead of individual awards on an aid offer.  While the total gift aid offer may ultimately be composed of a combination of named scholarships, grants, and fellowships, rest assured that, when you begin coursework, the total will be equal to what was promised to you in your gift aid offer.

 

What if I’m not offered gift aid?

 

Those who submit the FAFSA and are eligible for federal student aid can expect to be offered federal student loans up to the Cost of Attendance. Information about all loan options, including private student loans, can be found on our Loans page.

We also strongly encourage applying for external scholarships, a list of which can be found on our Outside Agency scholarships webpage.

Information about the gift aid reconsideration process can be found on the admitted students webpage (REQUIRES CALNET AUTHENTICATION). Need help with your CalNet ID and password? Click here.

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Gift Aid Sources

Below are some examples of awards that may ultimately compose a gift aid offer:

Hyundai and Kia Scholarships
Typically $90,000 (awarded as $30K per year)
Awarded to two entering students based on academic merit, leadership experience, and an interest in and commitment to the field of law and technology.

Philip S. Ehrlich Public Service Loan-Grant
Typically $60,000 (awarded as $20,000 per year)
Forgivable loan awarded to entering student with demonstrated commitment to public service law and prior history of community work.  Preference given to students with demonstrated financial need and ability to overcome socioeconomic disadvantages to attend law school.

Billie & Adrian Kragen Scholarship
Typically $30,000 (awarded as $10,000 per year)
Award based on merit and need and made to an individual who earned a “Big C” in intercollegiate athletics as an undergraduate at U.C. Berkeley.

Sho & Masako F. Sato Fellowship
Typically $12,000 (awarded as $4,000 per year)
Award is made each year to a deserving entering student with a strong experience in and demonstrated commitment to environmental law.

Logan Harriet Scholarship
Typically $30,000 (awarded as $10K per year)
To assist needy and deserving students with preference to blind students

John B. Hall Scholarship
Typically $60,000 (awarded as $20K per year)
Awarded to outstanding students with a demonstrated commitment to a career in public interest or public service.

 

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Other Gift Aid Sources:
Amounts vary; renewable for three years.
Awards are based on a combination of two or more factors such as academic merit, professional promise, leadership potential, commitment to a particular field, financial need, or other criteria:

  • Berkeley Law Dean’s Fellowship
  • Berkeley Law Grant
  • Goodin, Vernon & Marion Scholarship
  • S.K. Yee Fellowship
  • Larry L. Hillblom Fellowship
  • Ralph Eltse Memorial Scholarship
  • Leonard & Catherine Unger Scholarship
  • Jonathan J Wilcox Scholarship
  • B & A Cory Scholarship
  • Robert G Adams Scholarship
  • R.H. Cole Fellowship
  • Judge Spencer Williams Scholarship
  • John Currey Scholarship
  • Louis Wiener Jr. Scholarship
  • Edward Tom Scholarship
  • Folger, Levin & Kahn Scholarship
  • Sheharbano Sangji Scholarship
  • Marcus Fellowship
  • Pence Scholarship
  • And others…

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Responding to a Gift Aid Offer

Berkeley Law frowns upon the practice of making “exploding” aid offers. We will typically provide two weeks for you to consider your gift aid offer. We will never require a response before April 1.

Acceptance of gift aid requires that you both accept our admission offer and that you withdraw from all other schools where you have been admitted. We do not require that you withdraw from schools where you have not yet received a final admissions decision, for example if you remain on a wait list. In practice, we find that the process works best if you simply communicate with us what your situation is and request a deadline extension should you feel you need one. Extensions are not guaranteed, but we do want you to make as fully informed a decision about where to attend law school as possible. In fairness to all other award candidates who may be waiting for a decision or for more funds to become available, we ask that you respect this requirement.

Questions about responding to a gift aid offer should be directed via email to Kristin Theis-Alvarez, Director of Outreach and Recruitment, ktalvarez@law.berkeley.edu

 

Your Financial Aid Package

Gift aid is considered a financial aid resource and may reduce your need to borrow loans. The totality of any grants, scholarships, fellowships, loans, and work study compose your “financial aid package.” If you have any questions about your overall aid package you should review the How to Apply section of the financial aid website (Entering student checklists and timeline) or contact the Berkeley Law financial aid office at financial-aid-law@berkeley.edu

 

Interaction With Alumni and Donors

We may request for a “thank you” letter if the donor for your scholarship is interested in hearing about you and your accomplishments. Most recipients are invited to an annual Scholarship Luncheon where they can meet the donor who made their scholarship possible. Occasionally we reach out to scholarship recipients to connect them with writers for our Alumni Magazine, Transcript, to be profiled. Participation in such activities is voluntary.

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Deferring Gift Aid

Requests for admission deferments must be directed to the Dean of Admissions and are entirely separate from requests for a scholarship deferment. In general, gift aid deferments are rare and depend on the nature of the request and the circumstances that require it. If you have been offered gift aid and are requesting deferment from the Dean of Admissions, then you must also make a separate request to the Scholarship Committee before the response deadline of your gift aid. An approved deferment from one side does not guarantee the same from the other. Questions about deferring gift aid can be directed via email to Kristin Theis-Alvarez, ktalvarez@law.berkeley.edu

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