Basic Needs

We’re invested in you as a student. Your well-being is a priority when undertaking a world-class education. Below you will find resources to help you keep your health at optimal levels as well as additional information to help you in time of need here at Berkeley.

Food Assistance Program

Are you a currently enrolled student skipping meals, or eating less because of paying for other expenses, such as rent? Have you exhausted all of the financial aid resources offered to you this academic year? Are you ineligible for financial aid? We can help! UC Berkeley strives to ensure that all students have access to nutritious food. We want you to be able to concentrate on your studies, plan for the rest of the term, and not worry about how you’ll get your next meal.

If you lack access to food in the short-term and are waiting for your CalFresh benefits, or you are not eligible for CalFresh benefits, applying to our food assistance program may be an option for you. Through the support of an additional funding source, we encourage all students who are experiencing food insecurity to review the Application for Additional Food Assistance on our Forms page.

Who Can Apply?

  • The program is available to non-CalFresh eligible students with financial need and CalFresh eligible students in extreme need (who have yet to receive their CalFresh debit card) who have exhausted other funding options, including student loans (if applicable). Eligible students need to be in the process of applying for CalFresh, or be ineligible for CalFresh benefits in order to be considered for the Food Assistance Program. To learn more about apply for CalFresh, visit one of the CalFresh clinics hosted every Friday in #68 MLK Student Union.
  • Currently enrolled graduate and undergraduate students who are US citizens, permanent residents or AB 540 eligible who have not completed a FAFSA or a Dream Act application, or are not eligible to receive financial aid per federal, state or institutional regulations, and have short-term needs may also be eligible for Cal 1 Card dollars.

Students awarded assistance through this program may be required to submit additional information, attend a one-on-one financial counseling session to explore additional aid options, and/or develop a spending plan. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office may monitor the use of additional funding to help counsel students and improve the program.

Note: The food assistance program is intended to assist only the student applying, not additional family members. International students are not eligible for this program. Submission of an application is not a guarantee of approval.

Apply with the Food Assistance Program’s Basic Needs Holistic Support Application Fall ’20.

​Housing Security Deposit Award Fund

Students helping Students obtain safe, secure, and stable housing. Your UC Berkeley education should be accessible regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, immigration status, criminal record, or your socioeconomic status.

“The Housing Security Deposit Award allowed me to avoid the emotional and financial burden of using an emergency loan to fund my deposit…I could focus on my work and studies without the worry of facing housing insecurity.

I am incredibly grateful…and I truly believe that it has been equally impactful in the lives of fellow students at UC Berkeley.”

​– Rose, UC Berkeley Student 2018

The Housing Security Deposit Award Fund was established to empower student success in the face of economic injustice. This self-generating award is funded by student fees and was created through a popularly supported student fee referendum. Students are now helping enrolled students who need assistance in paying security deposits to obtain safe, secure, and stable housing.

You Can Pay it Forward

This award is intended to be repaid once you have moved out and your security deposit is returned. These funds will go towards helping the next student, like you, find safe, secure, and stable housing.

Do I Qualify?

To be considered for the Housing Security Deposit Award, complete the Basic Needs Holistic Support Application and schedule an in-person appointment with us here at the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. We want to ensure that all of your basic needs are being met during our assessment. However, we recognize that in some cases an in-person appointment may not be possible. To move forward in the process, please upload or fax the application through Cal Central. Review these instructions to upload your form in CalCentral!

Are you a Past Recipient?

If you are a past recipient of the award, and would like to contribute back to the self-generating fund and repay some or all of what you were awarded, you can DONATE HERE.

Need Help Right Now?

The UC Berkeley Food Pantry in Stiles Hall, located in the ASUC Building – Room 68, provides emergency, nonperishable food to UC Berkeley students while they explore campus food security resources. Visit the Food Pantry website for current hours of operation.

Student parents can contact The Bear Pantry, which provides an emergency food supply to low-income UC Berkeley students who have dependent children and who receive tuition assistance through the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. Contact The Bear Pantry by emailing thebearpantry@berkeley.edu.

The following resources are available all year to students

Eliminating Hunger at UC Berkeley

As living costs rise, food insecurity — the lack of nutritious food — is becoming a significant issue for college students across the country. In fact, Feeding America, a national hunger-relief charity, will for the first time this year include in its quadrennial survey a breakdown of college students seeking food assistance.
Food insecurity can affect any student. UC Berkeley prepares students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to be future leaders, and we recognize the need to help students become food secure so that they can successfully complete and obtain their degrees.

UC Berkeley offers the following comprehensive food security resources.

Financial Aid Awards and Financial Aid Counseling

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office provides financial aid to eligible students who file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application. You may also request financial aid counseling to help you better understand how to use your financial aid to meet food budget costs. Start by contacting Cal Student Central.

Bears for Financial Success Peer-to-Peer Workshops and Mentoring

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office does more than connect you with sources of financial aid—they can also help you learn how to use your resources wisely with an eye toward lifelong financial stability. The Bears for Financial Success program offers financial wellness group workshops and one-on-one peer mentoring. You can request a workshop or schedule an appointment on their website, which also provides essential financial wellness information to help you manage your money and build for the future.

Appeals for Special Circumstances

If you’ve experienced special circumstances that affect your financial aid, you can appeal for a re-evaluation of your financial aid package or budget.

UC Berkeley Food Pantry

The UC Berkeley Food Pantry in Stiles Hall in the ASUC Building, Room 68 provides emergency, nonperishable food to UC Berkeley students while they explore campus food security resources. Visit the Food Pantry website for current hours of operation.

Student parents can contact The Bear Pantry, which provides an emergency food supply to low-income UC Berkeley students who have dependent children and who receive tuition assistance through the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. Contact The Bear Pantry by emailing thebearpantry@berkeley.edu.

UC Berkeley Basic Needs Security

UC Berkeley’s Basic Needs Security Committee is fully dedicated to leading the transformation of UC Berkeley into a basic needs secure institution of higher education. Check out their website for more information about food security, housing security, Financial Security, and Crisis.

Additional Resources