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How to Estimate Your Financial Aid

How to estimate your financial aid if your family’s financial situation has changed

If your family’s financial situation has changed recently, you may have concerns about how this will impact your financial aid package. Beginning on May 1, you will be able to submit an expected family contribution appeal through the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office. An expected family contribution appeal will allow you to provide a written statement and documentation of your circumstances that our office will review for potential adjustments, as appropriate, based on your current financial situation. 

In the meantime, if your family’s current income has changed significantly since you submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA), or if your family is experiencing extenuating financial circumstances, you can utilize Berkeley’s Financial Aid Estimator, or Cal-Culator, to estimate how this change in income could affect your financial aid package. 

Your actual offer may differ from what you estimated below.
 


Information to Gather Before You Begin

It would be a good idea to have your Student Aid Report from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) available. You can access your Student Aid Report by going to fafsa.gov for FAFSA filers, or https://dream.csac.ca.gov/ for Dream Act Application filers. You will refer to it for some of the sections below. 

Now you will need to calculate your Parent(s)’ estimated income from January 1, 2020 -December 31, 2020 based on the changes in your family’s financial situation. Be sure to include the following income if it pertains to your family’s situation: 

  • Wages 
  • Business Income - estimated amount for 2020
  • Unemployment Benefits - estimate the total amount expected for 2020
  • Severance Pay - one lump sum payment as a result of layoff or termination
  • Alimony - estimated amount expected for 2020
  • Taxed Pension/Retirement - estimated amount expected for 2020

Once you have that estimated income, you can estimate your taxes paid - we recommend using 10% of the estimated income from above. 

We know that many things about the rest of this year are still very uncertain, and you may not yet know what income your family will have. There are no limits on the number of times you can use the Cal-Culator to estimate your aid, so you can see how your aid may change under a few different scenarios.


How to Use the Financial Aid Estimator (Cal-Culator)

Step 1: Navigate to the Financial Aid Estimator (Cal-Culator)

Step 2: Dependent or Independent

You are considered a Dependent if you were required to report parent income on your aid application. If you are considered an Independent student and are not required to report parental information, skip to Step 8. 

Step 3: Parent(s)’ current marital status

Choose the status that best represents your parent(s)’ marital status today. 

Step 4: Parent(s)’ Income

Report what you calculated as your parent(s)’ income in the “Before you Begin” section here. 

Step 5: Taxes paid

Input what you calculated as your parent(s)’ taxes in the “Before you Begin” section here. 

Step 6: Parent(s)’ other income

Include here any estimated child support, payments to tax deferred pensions (what you will pay into your 401K or 401b in 2020), and any other untaxed income you will expect to receive.

Do not include extended foster care benefits, student aid, earned income credit, additional child tax credit, welfare payments, untaxed Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act educational benefits, on-base military housing or a military housing allowance, combat pay, benefits from flexible spending arrangements (e.g., cafeteria plans), foreign income exclusion or credit for federal tax on special fuels

Step 7: Parent(s)’ Assets 

This figure should match what you reported on the aid application for cash/checking/savings and investment accounts. Please add together the amounts from lines 88-90 from your aid application for FAFSA filers or lines 94-96 for Cal Dream Act Application and input here.

Step 8: Student’s Income

Report here any income the student is expected to earn from working in 2020. For married students, this figure should include both the student and spouse information. Be sure to include: 

  • Wages
  • Business Income - estimated amount for 2020
  • Unemployment Benefits - estimated the total amount expected for 2020
  • Severance Pay - one lump sum payment as a result of layoff or termination
  • Alimony - estimated amount expected for 2020
  • Taxed Pension/Retirement - estimated amount expected for 2020

Step 9: Student’s taxes paid

Just as in the parent taxes paid, you can estimate your tax by taking 10% of the income reported in the line above. 

Step 10: Student’s other income 

Include here any estimated child support, payments to tax deferred pensions (what you will pay into your 401K or 401b in 2020), and any other untaxed income you will expect to receive in 2020. If you are a married student, be sure to include information about you and your spouse. 

Do not include extended foster care benefits, student aid, earned income credit, additional child tax credit, welfare payments, untaxed Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act educational benefits, on-base military housing or a military housing allowance, combat pay, benefits from flexible spending arrangements (e.g., cafeteria plans), foreign income exclusion or credit for federal tax on special fuels

Step 11: Student’s assets 

This figure should match what you reported on the aid application for cash/checking/savings and investment accounts. Please add together the amounts from lines 40-42 from your aid application for FAFSA filers or 41-43 from the Cal Dream Act Application and input here.

Step 12: Number in Household 

Dependent Students- include

  • yourself, even if you don’t live with your parents;
  • your parents; 
  • your parents’ other children (even if they do not live with your parents) if
    • (a) your parents will provide more than half of their support between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, or
    • (b) the children could answer “No” to every question in Step Three on page 5 of this form; and
  • other people if they now live with your parents, your parents provide more than half of their support and your parents will continue to provide more than half of their support between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

Independent Students- include

  • yourself (and your spouse); 
  • your children, if you will provide more than half of their support between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, even if they do not live with you; and
  • other people if they now live with you, you provide more than half of their support and you will continue to provide more than half of their support between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

Step 13: Number in College

How many people in your household will be college students between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021? Always count yourself as a college student. 

  • Dependent students should not include parents. 
  • Do not include people who are in U.S. military service academies. 
  • You may include others only if they will attend, at least half-time in 2020-2021, a program that leads to a college degree or certificate

Step 14: State of Residency 

Choose your legal state of residency 

Step 15: Housing Pathway 

Report where you plan to live during the 20-21 academic year. 

Estimate your Financial Aid 
The calculator will estimate a new expected family contribution, and also provide an estimate of your grant aid, your estimated loan and work, and the estimated amount of Parent Loan that will be offered to parents (for dependent students only). Use this to compare to your current awards listed in CalCentral. 

Remember that this is simply an estimate. 


Next Steps

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will start accepting expected family contribution appeals starting on May 1. Your actual offer may differ from what you estimated above.