How to Pay for UCLA: Aid and Student Loan Options

 February 22, 2021
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how to pay for ucla

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The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a very well-respected public university, but it won’t come cheap. The estimated 2020-2021 cost of one academic year (for those living on-campus) was $37,947 for California residents and $67,701 for out-of-state students. But fortunately, UCLA scholarships and other financial aid can make your cost of attendance more affordable.

If you’re interested in UCLA and thinking about how to pay for it, here’s…

How to pay for UCLA

Although UCLA is expensive, don’t let its price tag scare you away. Here are five options to make college more affordable.

1. UCLA scholarships
2. Grants
3. Payment plan
4. Federal student loans
5. Private student loans

1. UCLA scholarships

Scholarships are one of the most valuable resources you can use to pay for school. Unlike student loans, which have to be repaid with interest, a scholarship ise money that doesn’t have to be repaid.

UCLA offers several scholarships to new students, including:

  • UCLA Achievement Scholarship: UCLA gives awards between $500 and $10,000 per year to students who demonstrate academic excellence.
  • UCLA Regents Scholarship: This award goes to students who show “academic excellence, leadership and exceptional promise.” All students are guaranteed $2,000, but could get additional funding if they have financial need.
  • UCLA Chancellor’s Blue & Gold Scholarship: This $1,000 to $5,000 annual scholarship is awarded to students coming from community colleges in the Los Angeles area.
  • UBAA Winston C. Doby Legacy Scholarship: This $10,000 annual scholarship, sponsored by the school’s Black alumni association is open to Black students who “show great promise” and have a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Dr. Ralph J. Bunche Alumni Scholarship: Students from historically underrepresented backgrounds are eligible for the Bunche Alumni Scholarship.
  • Freshman Alumni Scholarship: Incoming freshmen can receive up to $20,000 over the course of four years. This scholarship is based on academic merit.
  • Community College Transfer Alumni Scholarship: The Community College Transfer Alumni Scholarship is awarded to students who attended community college before transferring to UCLA.
  • Out-of-State Alumni Scholarship: Prospective students who don’t live in California could qualify for the Out-of-State Alumni Scholarship. This award is divided into equal installments and distributed over the course of four years to incoming freshmen.
  • Department-specific scholarships: Some academic departments offer their own scholarships to new students. Visit UCLA’s scholarship resource center for information about the available scholarships.
  • Middle Class Scholarship: The Middle Class Scholarship provides scholarships to undergraduate students whose families make up to $177,000 per year.
  • Campus-specific scholarships: If you’re flexible on which UC school you attend, you might qualify for additional scholarships based on academic merit or financial need. Each school has its own stipulations, so check each campus’ requirements.

2. Grants

If you’re a California resident, grants are another form of money you can use to pay for school. Like scholarships, grants don’t have to be paid back. They’re a useful tool to reduce your college costs and limit how much you need to borrow to pay for school.

California residents might qualify for one of the following state-issued grants:

  • Cal Grant: U.S. citizens or eligible noncitizens can receive up to $12,570 through the Cal Grant program, as of the 2018-19 school year.
  • California Chafee Grant for Foster Youth: Students who are currently in foster care or were in foster care can receive up to $5,000 per year through the Chafee Grant for Foster Youth program.
  • California Dream Act: The California Dream Act allows some undocumented students to receive state-based financial aid and institutional scholarships. You can find more California Dream Act information and resources here.

3. Payment plan

UCLA offers the BruinPay Plan (BPP), a payment plan which allows you to make either three quarterly payments or four semesterly payments, rather than pay the full tuition bill upfront. When you receive your electronic bill, you’ll see an option for BPP. Once you enroll, you can make a payment with a credit card or bank account.

BPP is a term-based plan, so you must enroll at the beginning of each term. All students are eligible for BPP as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • You don’t have a balance from a previous term.
  • You don’t have three or more returned check payments.
  • You don’t have one or more returned credit card payments.
  • You’re not covered in full by financial aid.

4. Federal student loans

If you’ve exhausted all of your scholarship and grant opportunities and still need money for school, federal loans are a smart next step. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates and more generous repayment terms than other forms of debt, so they’re a more cost-effective option.

As an undergraduate student, you can access the following types of loans:

  • Direct subsidized loans: With subsidized loans, the government covers the interest that accrues while you’re in school, during your grace period after graduation and if you enter your loans into deferment. That benefit can help reduce how much you owe over time.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans: Unlike with subsidized loans, the government doesn’t cover interest charges on unsubsidized loans. However, they still have low interest rates, so they could be a useful tool to pay for school.
  • Parent PLUS loans: If your parents are willing to help you pay for school, they can borrow as much as you’ll need to cover the total cost of attendance with a PLUS loan.

5. Private student loans

There are some cases when you cannot qualify for enough scholarships, grants and federal loans to cover all of your education expenses. If you need more money to pay your tuition bill, another option to consider is taking out a private student loan.

Unlike federal loans, private loans are offered by private banks and financial institutions. But although they tend to have higher interest rates and fewer repayment benefits than federal loans, they could still be a useful way to get the money you need to pay your school’s bill.

Before applying for a loan, make sure you compare offers from multiple private student loan lenders to ensure you get the best deal.

How to evaluate your financial aid options

If you’re trying to figure out how to pay for UCLA, your first step should be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Both schools and the federal government use the FAFSA to determine how much aid you can receive, including grants and loans.

If you’re not sure where to start, follow this step-by-step guide to filling out the FAFSA.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

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