Dear Graduate Student Community,

This message is to inform you about financial resources available from the CARES Act and campus relief funds to assist eligible students with additional expenses experienced during this period of social distancing and online learning. The request for action deadline is Friday, May 15th. Please read below for more information on who is eligible and what is required.

CARES Act Funding Eligibility

As part of the federal CARES Act, UC Berkeley has received $15 million in direct-to-student funding, $4 million of which will be awarded to eligible graduate students. 

The U.S. Department of Education has limited CARES awards to students eligible for Title IV financial aid authorized under the Higher Education Act. The school has alternative funding sources for undocumented students and international students.

Our goal is to maximize all available sources of relief funding to award as many eligible students as possible, as quickly as possible. Receiving relief funding from other campus sources may limit your eligibility for CARES funds.

Action Required

  • CARES Act Funding:
    In order to be considered for funding, graduate students who are citizens or eligible non-citizens must file a 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form if they did not fill out a FAFSA for 2019-20. Filing a FAFSA does not guarantee funding.
  • Dream Act Funding:
    Students who are eligible for financial aid under the California Dream Act must file a 2020-21 California Dream Act Application (CADAA) if they did not fill out a CADAA for 2019-20. The campus is committed to providing students eligible for financial aid under the California Dream Act with equivalent funding from the Student Emergency Fund. 

The deadline to file a FAFSA or a CADAA for funding consideration is Friday, May 15th. Filing an aid application does not obligate students to take out loans — it is simply the most expedient way for the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office to verify federal/state aid eligibility.

Even though CARES and Dream Act funding is limited and not guaranteed, we encourage all eligible graduate students to apply.

Note: You may be required to submit additional documentation to verify Title IV eligibility.

When to Expect Funding

We anticipate awarding to begin the last week of May for eligible students. We encourage students to monitor their communications and their awards in CalCentral for updates. 

Alternate Resources

If you do not meet the eligibility requirements to file for financial aid through the FAFSA or CADAA, you can still apply for assistance to help with additional expenses related to COVID-19. To apply, visit the UC Berkeley COVID-19 Student Relief Funds website. Students may also apply for an interest-free Short-Term Emergency Loan from UC Berkeley.


If you have any questions about whether or how you should file an aid application to receive this funding, please contact Cal Student Center by opening a case or calling 510-664-9181, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

For resources to address other COVID-19 related questions or concerns, visit the Graduate Division’s COVID-19 Information page.


Lisa García Bedolla
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate Division

Adam Orford
President, Graduate Assembly

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is the CARES funding different from the stimulus money I received?
    Yes. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which provides emergency funding to higher education institutions. The CARES funds are to be disbursed directly to students in the form of emergency grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  1. Does receiving the stimulus affect me getting this campus funding?
    No. The receipt of stimulus funding does not prevent you from receiving CARES funding.
  1. If I was claimed as a dependent, for tax purposes, does this mean I cannot get these funds?
    No. If you are eligible to receive federal Title IV aid or Dream Act aid as a graduate student, you are considered independent for financial aid purposes and will be considered for CARES or Student Emergency Fund dollars.