UC Berkeley was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 public college in the country. But while attending the university is a great opportunity, you’ll need to figure out how to pay for your education.
As a public school, UC Berkeley is more affordable than many private colleges. Unfortunately, it’s still pretty expensive. A year at Berkeley costs between $24,516 and $35,054 for in-state residents, depending on their living situation. Out-of-state residents could pay as much as $63,068.
Obviously, most students will need help covering these costs. If you’re not sure how to pay for UC Berkeley, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about scholarships, grants, loans, and other funding options.
How to pay for UC Berkeley: Aid and student loan options
While as many as 71% of students graduate four-year colleges with student debt, it makes sense to borrow as few loans as possible. Grants, scholarships, family contributions, and working while in school can help cover the costs of Berkeley and reduce the amount you must pay back later.
If you must borrow, federal student loans from the Department of Education or private student loans from banks and online lenders could help you cover college costs. UC Berkeley also offers its own payment and loan programs to qualifying students. These also have favorable terms.
Consider the following options as you figure out how to pay for UC Berkeley.
UC Berkeley offers several scholarships to students, including the following:
- Berkeley Undergraduate Scholarship: Every year, 2,500 California residents and eligible nonresidents receive this merit-based scholarship. To become eligible, students must complete either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Dream Act Application. The scholarship award is based on financial need.
- Fiat Lux Scholarship: Students from eligible schools in the Bay Area, the Central Coast, San Jose, Sequoia, Sacramento, and Los Angeles may be eligible for this scholarship. Students awarded this scholarship are also paired with a faculty mentor. Students must complete the FAFSA or Dream Act Application and may be awarded funding up to the full cost of attendance, based on financial need.
- Middle Class Scholarship: This scholarship is available for undergraduate students with a family income and assets under $165,000. Funding is provided on a sliding scale based on family income, and students will need to complete the FAFSA or Dream Act Application to be eligible.
- Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship: Each year, around 200 of the world’s most prestigious students are awarded this scholarship at UC Berkeley. There’s a rigorous selection process, including a one-on-one interview. Students without financial need may receive a $2,500 honorary award, while students with need may be eligible for funding up to the full cost of attendance.
Students can also apply for scholarships from organizations outside of Berkeley. This guide to finding free money for college can help you uncover scholarships.
Like scholarships, grants don’t need to be repaid. Students may be eligible for a number of different grants, including awards offered by the school, state, or federal government. Grant options include:
- Cal Grant: This grant is offered by the state. California residents or graduates of California high schools are guaranteed Cal Grants if they meet eligibility requirements, including demonstrated financial need and a GPA of 3.0 for high school students or 2.4 for college students. Students may be eligible for up to $12,630 to attend UC Berkeley in the 2018-2019 academic year. Students must complete the FAFSA or Dream Act application.
- Chafee Grant: Current and former foster youth with demonstrated financial need can obtain up to $5,000 annually through this grant. Students must complete the FAFSA or the Dream Act Application and must not be 22 years old as of July 1 in the year the award is made available.
- Parent Grant: These grants are available to undergraduate students who are parents. Students must be California residents or AB 540 students, must not be living in residence halls, and must have at least one dependent child under age 18 living with them. Students must complete the FAFSA or Dream Act Application. Awards are based on financial need and available funding.
- Federal Pell Grant: Pell Grants are need-based awards offered by the federal government, and students must complete the FAFSA to qualify. For the 2017-2018 academic year, the maximum annual limit for Pell Grants is $5,920.
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: This federally funded grant is available to students with exceptional financial need. Up to $400 per year may be awarded to UC Berkeley students.
The federal work-study program is another great way to pay for school without borrowing, provided you’re eligible. Work-study opportunities may be available if you demonstrate financial need when you complete the FAFSA. Work-study jobs are often related to your field of study, but opportunities are limited.
Wages vary depending on the position you take, and it may be possible to get work-study jobs during both the academic year and the summer. In fact, students with fall work-study awards can begin working as early as June 1. They can work 40 hours per week if there’s an open position and their financial aid award makes them eligible for the opportunity.
For more information about what work-study programs entail, check out our guide.
UC Berkeley loan and payment programs
When you’re figuring out how to pay for UC Berkeley, you should also be aware of financial aid opportunities that can make the cost of attendance more affordable:
- Middle Class Access Plan: This scholarship program ensures contributions parents make for students don’t exceed 15% of their income. Families with typical assets and incomes between $80,000 and $150,000 are eligible.
- Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan: This scholarship program provides up to $12,630 in scholarships and grants for California residents whose family income is below $80,000. This plan totals your grants and scholarships from all sources; if the amount doesn’t fully cover your tuition and fees, this program will make up the difference.
UC Berkeley also offers loans with favorable terms to qualifying students. Options include the following:
- Berkeley Loan: This low-interest subsidized loan has a rate of 5.00%, as of March 2018. Students may be offered this loan on a case-by-case basis, but you must complete the FAFSA or Dream Act Application in order to be eligible. Repayment begins nine months after leaving school or if you drop below half-time enrollment. The loan comes with a standard 10-year repayment term.
- Dream Loan: This low-interest subsidized loan is for AB 540 students who meet qualifying criteria. The interest rate matches the rate on federal Direct Loans. Students may borrow up to $4,000 per year, up to a lifetime maximum of $20,000. The standard repayment period is 10 years.
There are also UC Berkeley loans available for students who wish to attend summer programs or who need short-term emergency financial help.
Federal student loans
Borrowing is inevitable for most students, even if you receive grants and scholarships. However, federal student loans have low fixed interest rates set by the government. And you don’t need to provide proof of income or a high credit score to be eligible.
There are different types of federal loans you can apply for, including the following:
- Direct Subsidized Loans: If you’re an undergraduate and can demonstrate financial need, you may be eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans. There are annual and lifetime limits for subsidized loans. The government covers the interest charges on these loans while you’re in school or when your loans are deferred after graduation.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for these loans, even without demonstrated financial need. There are also annual and lifetime limits on these loans. You’ll be responsible for all interest costs, and interest that is unpaid while you’re in school will be added to the loan balance.
- PLUS Loans: Graduate students and parents could be eligible for PLUS Loans. Borrowers aren’t eligible if they have an adverse credit history. The origination fee and interest rate are higher for PLUS Loans. Parents typically will be expected to begin repaying loans after disbursement, although they can request deferment while their child is attending school at least half time and for six months after graduation.
To obtain any type of federal student loans, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA. When you submit your financial and academic information, your details will be sent to UC Berkeley. The college will use that information to determine the amount you can borrow through federal loans.
Flexible repayment options, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and income-driven repayment plans all make federal loans an ideal choice for students who must borrow.
Private student loans
While there are many sources of funding, eligibility is limited for federal financial aid, scholarships, grants, and Berkeley-based loans. As a result, many students are not able to cover all their educational costs with these options.
However, there are many private student loan lenders that can help you pay the difference. With private loans from banks, credit unions, and online lenders, you can borrow up to the school-certified cost of tuition.
You can choose between fixed- and variable-rate loans. A fixed rate means your interest rate won’t change throughout the life of the loan. With a variable-rate loan, your interest rate can go up or down based on market conditions. You can also choose from a variety of different repayment terms, which typically range from five to 20 years.
To apply for private loans, you’ll need to shop around to find a lender. Start with our private student loan marketplace and compare terms. You can submit an application online and usually get an answer within minutes.
While it often makes sense to max out other loan options before applying for private student debt, applying with the right private loan lender can make it possible to attend the school of your dreams.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 2/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.23% – 13.23%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.20% – 11.44%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 10.11%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|