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Alternative Loan: These are private loans that are offered by financial institutions. Some students choose to or need to apply for private loans when the federal loans don’t cover their total educational costs. Interest rates and other policies vary by lender.

California Student Aid Commission (CSAC): CSAC is a California state agency responsible for administering the Cal Grant program for students attending public and private universities, colleges, and vocational schools in California.

Cost of Attendance: Also known as the student budget. The total amount it should cost the student to go to school, including:  tuition and fees; living expenses (food and housing, previously called room and board); allowances for books, course materials, supplies, and equipment;  transportation; and miscellaneous and personal expenses. Loan fees, if applicable, may also be included in the COA. Childcare and expenses for disabilities may also be included at the discretion of the financial aid administrator.

Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request: Formerly known as the budget appeal. This is a process that allows students to ask for adjustments in the amount of financial aid they might be offered by increasing the individual student budget. For example, if a student is paying rent and utilities higher than the average posted on the standard cost of attendance. In most instances, students will be offered additional loan or federal work-study. More information about how to complete a Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request form can be found on the Cost of Attendance Adjustment page of our website. 



Dependent Student: Is a student who must provide information about their parents’ income and assets on the FAFSA. Generally speaking, this is a student who is under 24, an undergraduate, is unmarried and has no dependents. See the definition of Independent Student below.

Direct Deposit: Also known as Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), this is a safe and quick way to have your financial aid deposited directly into your savings or checking account. After your financial aid is applied to your balance in your account, if there is money remaining, you receive it as a “refund.” If you sign up for Direct Deposit/EFT you’ll have access to your refund quickly. If you choose not to sign up for Direct Deposit/EFT and you are eligible for a refund you will be issued a check that you must pick up from the Billing an Payment Services Office in University Hall. They do not mail checks.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC): The amount of money that the family is expected to be able to contribute to the student’s education, as determined by the Federal Methodology need analysis formula approved by Congress. The EFC includes the parent contribution and the student contribution, and depends on the student’s dependency status, family size, number of family members in school, taxable and nontaxable income and assets.

Federal Direct Student Loan Program: The full name is William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. The Direct Loan Program is offered by the Department of Education, and it provides students with a simple, inexpensive way to borrow money to pay for education after high school. You apply by completing the FAFSA. It could be offered as a “subsidized” or “unsubsidized” loan. Refer to our page on Federal Direct Loans for more information.

Financial Need: The formula for determining the amount of financial need that a student has is the Cost of Attendance minus the Expected Family Contribution. If the difference is a negative number then the student is not eligible for need-based financial aid.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): The SEOG program is for undergraduates with exceptional financial need. Pell Grant recipients with the lowest expected family contributions (EFCs) will be considered first for this award. The SEOG award does not have to be repaid. At Berkeley, the maximum SEOG is $400 per academic year.

Federal Methodology (FM): This is the need analysis formula used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Federal Methodology takes family size, the number of family members in college, and taxable and nontaxable income and assets into account. FM does not consider the net value of the family residence in the formula.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): Known as the “FAFSA,” this is the form that all students must complete to be considered for financial aid. At UC Berkeley, you must complete it by the Federal priority deadline, prior to the fall semester that you will be enrolled to be considered for on-time financial aid.



Gift Aid: Financial aid, such as grants and scholarships, which does not need to be repaid. Note: Students may have to repay a portion of their aid, including gift aid, if they withdraw from the institution during a given term.

Grade Point Average (GPA): To find out how to compute your GPA at Berkeley, review Grades information on the Registrar site.

Health Professions Student Loan: Is a fixed-rate, low interest, need-based federal loan administered by the UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships Office and offered only to Optometry Students.

Independent Student: An independent student does not need to provide information for their parents. If the independent student is married, she/he must provide financial information for the spouse. An independent student is defined by being one of the following: Being 24 or older, being married, having dependents, being a veteran, a graduate student, or being an orphan or having been a Ward of the Court

Living with Relatives Budget: A student who is living with a relative, usually a parent, is assigned a Living with Relative budget.


Master Promissory Note (MPN): A promissory note is the legal agreement a student signs with a lender accepting student loan funds. The MPN states the terms and conditions of the loan, including repayment schedule, interest rate, deferment policy and cancellations.



Need-Based Financial Aid: When you subtract the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the cost of attendance, the difference is the amount of “need-based” financial aid that you might be eligible for.

Non-Need-Based Financial Aid: Any type of financial aid that does not require financial need. For example, you may be offered a Parent PLUS Loan that happens to be equal to your Expected Family Contribution. This would be considered non-need-based financial aid. Some scholarship donors do not require financial need to be a factor in the awarding of a scholarship.

Off-Campus Budget: Any apartment, shared house, University Co-op, Fraternity, or Sorority. If you are living with relatives, then this is not considered off-campus.

On Campus Apartment Budget: Apartments owned or contracted by the University. This includes University Village Apartments, Channing-Bowditch, Martinez Commons, Wada, Manville and Ida L. Jackson.

On-Campus Residence Hall Budget: A University Residence Hall room. It requires that students be enrolled in a residence hall meal plan.

Outside Resource: Any type of financial assistance that you are receiving from a donor outside of the University. Outside scholarships, prepaid tuition plans, and VA educational benefits are examples of outside resources.

Parent Contribution (PC): The amount of money that the federal government expects the parents can contribute toward the students’ education. The amount is based on a number of factors including income, assets, family size, and number of family members in college (not including the parents).

Parent PLUS Loan: The Parent PLUS Loan is an unsubsidized loan that is part of the Federal Direct Loan program. The Parent PLUS is offered to parents of undergraduate students. It usually is offered to cover the amount of the Expected Family Contribution.

Perkins Loan: A subsidized federal loan with a fixed interest rate of 5% during repayment. At UC Berkeley, undergraduate freshman, sophomores, and some graduate students with financial need may be offered this loan. The Perkins Loan program ended in 2017.

PLUS Loan for Graduate Students: Is an unsubsidized loan offered to graduate students to help cover college expenses not already covered by the Federal Direct loans and other outside resources.



Satisfactory Academic Progress: To remain eligible for financial aid, students must meet satisfactory academic progress requirements. This includes being eligible for a specified period of time, successfully completing 67% of your units annually and cumulatively, and having an eligible GPA.

Self-Help: Loans and work-study are considered self-help and are usually a part of all financial aid offers at Berkeley.

Student Aid Report (SAR): This is provided electronically to all students who complete a FAFSA or Dream Act Application. The SAR summarizes the information included in your aid application. The SAR will also indicate the amount of Pell Grant eligibility, if any, and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You should be able to review your SAR within two weeks after you file your aid application. Review your SAR and correct any errors on the SAR.

Student Contribution (SC): The amount that the federal government calculates that the student can contribute towards their own education. This is based on income and asset information provided on the FAFSA.

Subsidized Student Loan: A loan that is subsidized means that the federal government is paying the interest on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half-time. When the loan goes into repayment the student will be charged interest.

Title IV Programs: Authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, these federal student aid programs include federal grants, federal loans, and the federal work-study program for undergraduate students, as well as federal loans and the federal work-study program for graduate students.

Unmet Need: The amount of a student’s budget that is not covered by any type of financial aid.

Unsubsidized Student Loan: Students or parents who have unsubsidized loans are charged interest on the loan as soon as the loan is disbursed. Although students do not have to make payments while they are enrolled at least half-time in college, interest is being charged on the loan. Parents who are taking out PLUS loan are required to begin making payments on the principle and the interest of the loan after the last disbursement for the academic year. All PLUS loans are unsubsidized.

Verification of Income and Assets: Some students are selected for a process where we review federal tax returns and other income and asset information. The federal government requires all colleges to conduct such a review.

Work-Study: The Federal Work-Study program provides undergraduate and graduate students with part-time employment during the school year. The federal government pays a portion of the student’s salary, making it cheaper for departments and businesses to hire the student. For this reason, work-study students often find it easier to get a part-time job. Eligibility for Federal Work-Study is based on need. Money earned from a FWS job is not counted as income for the subsequent year’s financial aid application.