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?


The majority of gift aid (grants, scholarships, fellowships) offered by Berkeley Law are offered prior to your attendance as three-year awards. There is a much more limited amount of funding for Continuing Student Scholarships. As an applicant to the J.D. program at 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. See below for specific criteria used to determine a gift aid offer. 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, you will be invited to submit our supplemental gift aid application (SGA). You can expect to receive an invitation email within approximately one week after being admitted with instructions on how to submit this supplemental application.  This form will primarily allow us to consider the financial obstacles you overcame or are overcoming to determine your total gift aid offer. However, there are a few questions on this application that help us to identify you for donor-based awards for which you may qualify that are not related to financial need. In most years, applying early can mean 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. However, to have financial needs considered, you must submit the SGA. It’s important to remember that our gift aid review process is holistic, so if you are offered gift aid, you can rest assured that both the content of your admissions application and the SGA (if submitted) were used to determine that total gift aid award offer.

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 as early as 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 typically automatically renewed for up to a total of three years (six semesters) provided that you maintain full-time enrollment. (However, gift aid awards for students in dual or concurrent degree programs may be limited to five semesters of eligibility.) 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 the 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.) – determined by information provided on our Supplemental Gift Aid (SGA) application.

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. While you will be notified via e-mail of any gift aid offer from us, offers will not be viewable on CalCentral until late March/early April, which is prior to the deadline to submit your Statement of Intent to Register (SIR).

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 the admission to attend other schools. We will re-award those funds through the reconsideration process which begins on March 20. Information about the gift aid reconsideration process can be found on the admitted student webpage (REQUIRES CALNET AUTHENTICATION). This page includes information about how and when to request reconsideration. Please read the instructions carefully.

Unfortunately, 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 request an extension.

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Does Berkeley Law offer need-based aid?


Yes. To be considered, be sure to submit the supplemental gift aid application (SGA.) Berkeley Law provides need-based aid to J.D. students 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 needs 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 needs on an annual basis. 

If you receive a gift aid offer from us, rest assured your financial need was considered so long as you completed the SGA by your deadline.

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.

Please be aware that each institution and school evaluate financial need differently. A school may choose to use a tool such as the FAFSA, CSS Profile, or its own internal application to determine what constitutes a ‘financial need.’ At Berkeley Law, the SGA in combination with your admissions application is our tool for reviewing past and recent financial obstacles you’ve overcome. Because of our unique, holistic means of evaluating financial needs, it is possible that you may receive a ‘need-based’ award from another institution and not from Berkeley Law, or vice versa. 

What if I’m not offered gift aid or would like to be reconsidered?

Information about the gift aid reconsideration process can be found on the admitted student webpage (REQUIRES CALNET AUTHENTICATION). This page includes information about how and when to request reconsideration. Please read the instructions carefully.

Gift aid is only one component of formulating a strategy to attend law school. In general, our gift aid 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. We therefore strongly encourage applying for external scholarships, a list of which can be found on our Outside Agency scholarships webpage. Even without 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.



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Gift Aid Sources

Below are some examples of awards that may ultimately compose a gift aid offer. Awards and funding are evaluated annually.

Berkeley Law Dean’s Fellowship/Berkeley Law Grant
Awards are based on a combination of two or more factors such as academic merit, professional promise, leadership potential, commitment to a particular field, and/or financial need. See “What does Berkeley Law use to determine Gift Aid offers?”

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)
The 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 a 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 the public interest or public service.

Pahlke Trial Advocacy Scholarship
Award amounts vary
The award is made each year to an entering student with a demonstrated interest in civil or criminal trial advocacy and/or significant interest in participating in trial competitions in law school.

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

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:

  • 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…

These are only some examples of awards that may ultimately compose a gift aid offer; funding for gift aid offers may ultimately be comprised of many different grants, scholarships, or fellowships from various sources.

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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 waitlist. 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 Admissions at admits@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) and review communications sent from the Berkeley Law Admissions Office. If you have questions that are unanswered, feel free to contact the Berkeley Law financial aid office at financial-aid-law@berkeley.edu.

Interaction With Alumni and Donors

The Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) office may ask students to provide information about their law school experience as part of their stewardship of the donors. Being able to communicate to donors about the impact of their giving is crucial for ensuring that these important sources of financial aid continue to grow. It is the best way for the school to demonstrate gratitude for the donors’ generosity. There may also be formal opportunities to interact with alumni donors or to share your story with writers for the school magazine, Transcript, or website. Participation in such activities is voluntary. In addition, DAR can facilitate a meeting for students who are interested in interacting with the donors behind their scholarships or even just learning more about them. 

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Deferring Gift Aid

Requests for admission deferments must be directed to the Office of J.D. Admissions. 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, please contact the admissions office.

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