How to Pay for UC Berkeley: Aid and Student Loan Options

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As a top public college, the University of California, Berkeley, is a highly sought-after school. But before attending, you’ll need to figure out how to cover UC Berkeley costs.

In the 2020-2021 year, California residents who live on campus can expect to pay an estimated $14,254 per year in tuition and fees. Out-of-state students, meanwhile, face a far heavier total of $44,008. And that’s not including other UC Berkeley costs, such as housing, food or supplies.

If you’re not sure how you’ll cover UC Berkeley’s cost of attendance, this guide will tell you what you need to know about your funding options — specifically:

How to cover UC Berkeley costs: Financial aid and student loan options

While many students graduate four-year colleges with student debt, it makes sense to borrow as little in student loans as possible. Grants, scholarships, family contributions and a part-time job can help cover your UC Berkeley cost of attendance 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 with favorable terms to qualifying students.

Consider the following options as you figure out how to pay for UC Berkeley.

Scholarships

UC Berkeley offers several scholarships to students, including the following:

  • Berkeley Undergraduate Scholarship: Every year, 3,000 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 California Dream Act Application. The scholarship award is based on financial need. If you receive it, it may be converted into a separately named scholarship award.
  • Fiat Lux Scholarship: Students from eligible local high schools in California 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 less than a set amount. 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. In 2019-2020, the maximum award was $5,028.
  • Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship: Each year, around 200 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 money for college can help you uncover scholarships.

Grants

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 satisfactory academic progress. 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 26 years old as of July 1 in the year the award is made available.
  • Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan: This scholarship program provides up to $12,570 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.
  • Parent Grant: These grants are available to undergraduate students who are parents. Students must be California residents or qualify under California law AB 540, 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 2020-2021 academic year, the maximum annual limit for Pell Grants is $6,345.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): This federally funded grant is available to students with exceptional financial need. Up to $400 per year may be awarded to UC Berkeley students.

Work-study program

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 July 1.

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 college, you should also be aware of loans that can make the UC Berkeley cost of attendance more affordable:

UC Berkeley also offers loans with favorable terms to qualifying students. Options include the following:

  • Berkeley Loan: This low-interest subsidized loan has a fixed rate of 5.00%, as of June 24, 2020. 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 students covered under California law AB 540 and 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 loans.

Federal student loans

Borrowing is inevitable for many 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, state and institutional financial aid. 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.

Before lending you money, private lenders check your credit and other financial information. Most undergraduate students have to apply with a cosigner, such as a parent, in order to qualify. Even if you can qualify on your own, applying with a cosigner might help you get better rates.

Once you get approved, 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.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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