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Financial Aid Information


Graduate students may apply for need-based loans and work-study through the Financial Aid Office (FAO website). The programs are based on demonstrated financial need and require a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), independent of the fellowship application. Low-income students with dependent children and high need will be considered for a need-based parent grant award, as funding permits.

Questions about the programs described in this section should be directed to the Financial Aid Office, Graduate Unit, University of California, Berkeley, 211 Sproul Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1960, (510) 642-6442, Or, consult the FAO website for more information.

Only U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens (those holding permanent resident cards) may apply for funds administered by the Financial Aid Office.

Eligibility for Financial Aid

Your eligibility for federal need-based financial aid is the difference between your expenses and your resources.

Expenses: The student budget chart displays average living costs and fees for the current and/or upcoming academic year. These figures are adjusted annually based on student surveys and other research.

Resources: Your resources include the contribution calculated from the income and assets reported on your FAFSA (see below) and awards you received other than student aid from the FAO (e.g., fellowships or department aid).

Your eligibility may change throughout the year. For example, you may receive fellowship or departmental awards, which may reduce your initial loan. Or you may wish to document that your expenses are higher than those reflected in the standard student budget. Research, relocation, uninsured medical, and child care costs are typical expenses that students claim throughout the year to prove increased need.

How to Apply for Student Loans & Other Federal Student Aid Administered by the Financial Aid Office (FAO)

Please complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), available on the FAFSA website. The UC Berkeley FAFSA school code is 001312.

We recommend that you submit your FAFSA by the priority deadline to ensure timely processing and the best financial aid package. If you miss that deadline, submit your FAFSA as soon as possible. You will still be entitled to your full federal Direct Loan eligibility, but the campus-based funds (Work-Study, Perkins, and Parent Grant) may be depleted. You should file the FAFSA even if you are not sure you will need or want any aid from the FAO. You can decide later.

The FAFSA is the only application necessary to apply for aid from the FAO. Graduate and professional students are considered independent, so parent information should not be included on your FAFSA. Optometry students should refer below to the description of the Health Professions Student Loan (HPSL) for an exception.

In late April or May, the FAO will notify you about your award. The FAO will include information about the acceptance and disbursement of awards, how to make changes or appeals, and other options. In some cases, you may be asked to submit additional documents to verify information on your application.

Types of Financial Aid

Most graduate students easily qualify for loans. Student loans are an important resource, but you should consider loans as a last resort, because there is danger in borrowing too much and accumulating high indebtedness. We suggest that you actively pursue other funding, such as fellowships, employment, work-study, and outside funding throughout your academic career.

The University of California, Berkeley, is participating in the federal government’s Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP). Direct loan amounts and eligibility are identical to those of the Stafford program. The difference is that private lenders originate loans for the Stafford program, while with FDSLP, schools receive funds directly from the federal government. A maximum of $20,500 per year is available to most eligible registered graduate students. Loans may be either subsidized (the federal government pays the interest as long as the borrower remains in school) or unsubsidized, depending on the student’s resources. The interest rate is 6.8 percent per annum.

Note: The U.S. Congress may change loan limits and regulations. The Financial Aid Office will include information about changes with your award notification.

Perkins Loan. The Financial Aid Office has a limited number of Perkins Loans to award to students with exceptional financial need. The interest rate is 5 percent; its accrual begins nine months after graduation or upon withdrawal from the university (or if you drop below six units).

Grad Plus Loan and Alternative Loans. Two loan options are available for students who need to borrow more than the federal Direct Loan maximum of $20,500. Grad Plus is a federal loan program that will be available to most students to cover the difference, if any, between their total budget and other educational awards (including other federal loans). The interest rate on the Grad Plus loan is fixed and is scheduled to be set by Congress after this publication’s press date. Details on the application process and current rates will be available on the Financial Aid Office website. Alternative loans with adjustable interest rates from private lenders will also be available to cover unmet need. Preferred lenders, application links, and a chart comparing the Grad Plus and some alternative loans will also be available on the FAO website.

Short-Term Loans. All graduate students are eligible for the short-term emergency loan program offered by the university. These interest-free loans are available throughout the academic year to help cover cash-flow problems. Please consult the FAO website for more information.

The Financial Aid Office has a limited amount of work-study funds that enable students to earn money while in school, thereby reducing the need to borrow more money. Many graduate students use their work-study awards for campus, departmental, or other jobs related to their educational objectives. Hourly wages of $10–$15 an hour are typical. The amount of the work-study award will be based on the availability of funds, but may be as high as $10,000 per year. When you receive your award notification, you will be able to request work-study. Throughout the year, requests for work-study will be granted as funding permits.

Health Professional Student Loan (HPSL)
This program is limited on the Berkeley campus to Optometry students. To be considered for an HPSL, Optometry students must include parent information on their FAFSA, regardless of their “independent” status for all other programs.

The HPSL is interest free until one year after graduation or until you drop below 6 units. At that time, interest begins to accrue at 5 percent.

Outside Sources of Financial Aid

You may be eligible for need-based financial aid administered by other agencies.

Disabled Students
The Disabled Students Program (DSP), 260 Cesar Chavez Student Center, (510) 642-0518 or TTY/TDD (510) 642-6376, provides a wide range of services and accommodations for eligible students with verified disabilities. Some examples of possible course-specific disability-related accommodations: real-time captioning, extended time for examinations, alternate testing formats, notes, and sign-language interpreters. A Student Grant is available for disability-related assistive technology. Staff can also advise students about other types of special aid, scholarships, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. For more details, please consult the DSP website.

Benefits for Veterans, Reservists, and Dependents of Veterans
If you have ever served in the military and are a veteran or current reservist, you may qualify for educational benefits under the G.I. Bill. If you are the dependent of a veteran who died or is disabled as a result of military service, you may be eligible for educational benefits or fee waivers. Questions should be directed to Michael Cooper, Veterans’ Services, 120 Sproul Hall #5404, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-5404, (510) 642-1592.

American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) Fellowships
These fellowships are available to full-time students who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes or who are at least one-fourth American Indian or Alaska Native, as recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Awards are based on financial need as verified by the applicant’s college financial aid office. Applicants must apply for aid at that office.

Applications are available from the American Indian Graduate Center, 4520 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Suite 1-B, Albuquerque, NM 87109, (505) 881-4584. Or you can download an application from the AIGC website.


Last Updated: June 17, 2011 4:29 PM