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Newly Admitted Student FAQ

Congratulations on your admission to the University of California, Berkeley! 

As a new member of the Golden Bear community, you and your family likely have a lot of questions about your financial aid. We understand and we're here to provide you and your family all of the important information you need to make your financial decisions. We've gathered some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about financial aid that we receive from newly admitted students. The information below will assist students and families in understanding how the aid process works on the Berkeley campus. Note: These are general responses and may not apply to all students and/or in all cases. 

Newly Admitted Undergraduates

How do I see my financial aid package?

A: Log into CalCentral and click on “My Finances” in the menu bar. Choose the “View Awards” button under Financial Aid and Scholarships to see your award and cost of attendance details, messages and tasks.

Why are my awards conditional?

A: All initial financial aid offers for entering students are conditional. These awards should be considered estimates and are subject to change. We will begin updating financial aid offers from conditional to actual awards in late spring/early summer for eligible students.

There are two other reasons your awards may be conditional.

1. Students selected for a process called "verification" will be required to provide additional information. You will find requests for additional information in the Tasks section of My Finances in CalCentral

2. Students that applied for aid using the California Dream Act Application must have their AB540 eligibility confirmed by the Residency Office. Be sure to complete your Statement of Legal Residence as soon as possible.

Please monitor your messages and tasks for requests for additional information and award updates. UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions of federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.

What is net cost?

A: The Net Cost is your cost of attendance minus any gift aid (grants and scholarships) you are offered. The net cost represents the amount of funding you may need in addition to your gift aid, to meet all of your educational expenses for one year. The net cost can be met through a number of resources, like outside scholarships, work-study, loans, family contributions, etc. Note that this is an estimate of how much funding you may need beyond the grants and scholarships you’ve been offered and not necessarily the amount you will owe to the University.

How do I accept my financial aid?

A: Any grants and scholarships you are offered are automatically accepted for you. Work-study is also accepted for you but the funds are not disbursed up front. To receive these funds, you will need to find a work-study job and begin earning this award. You can accept your loans on CalCentral. Click on “Accept” to start the process. We encourage you to review our loan webpage for information on borrowing and your responsibilities as a borrower.

Why did my original financial aid offer change?

A: Adjustments to your financial aid offer may happen throughout the year for a number of reasons. The most common reasons include corrections to your application information during verification, receipt of outside scholarships, or you made a change to your housing type in CalCentral. Please review the Adjustments to Your Offer page for more information.

UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions of federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.

How will I receive my financial aid?

A: If you have completed all of your financial aid tasks, your financial aid (excluding work-study earnings and some private loans) will disburse approximately 10 days before the start of the semester. All of your accepted financial aid will first pay the charges on your bill on Cal Central. If your financial aid exceeds the amount of your bill, you will receive a refund for the remaining amount. If the amount of your financial aid is less than the amount of your bill, you will be responsible for paying the remaining balance. Note: For refunds, we strongly encourage students to sign up for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

How much will I have to pay out of pocket?

A: The amount paid out of pocket varies by student. Everyone is budgeted with a standard cost of attendance, which includes direct and indirect costs.

Direct Costs: You will be billed through CalCentral for all of the direct costs you will owe directly to the university, including tuition and fees and housing (if you’re living in University housing).

Indirect Costs: You will also have indirect costs that will not be charged by the University, like books, transportation, clothing, food (outside of the residence hall contracts or meal plans), and other living expenses. The cost of your indirect expenses often depends on you and your personal choices. We encourage you to estimate your indirect costs by developing a budget or spending plan for the semester and/or year.

The combination of these direct and indirect costs make up your cost of attendance and are an indicator of how much total funding you will need for your educational expenses for one year.

To estimate what you may owe, subtract your financial aid from your cost of attendance. We strongly encourage students:

Do this calculation by term because your costs can vary by semester. For example, new students may have costs for Golden Bear Orientation in the fall that they may not have in the spring.

Do not include your work study award in the amount of aid that you subtract from your cost of attendance. These funds have to be earned through work and will not be disbursed at the start of each term like grants and loans.

For billing questions, please refer to the Billing and Payment Services website.

UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions of federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.

What is work-study and how do I apply?

A: Work-study is a need-based student aid program that gives you the opportunity to earn money through part-time employment. Eligibility is determined by the FAFSA and/or the Dream Act Application and eligible students will see a work-study award in their aid package. Once you have been awarded an official work-study award, you can log in to the work-study website to search for available positions. Work-study earnings are not disbursed to your student account and do not reduce the charges on your CalCentral bill. They are earned wages through employment that you’ll receive in the form of a paycheck. You will need to budget earnings towards your college costs. Having a work-study award in your financial aid package does not guarantee that you will get a job.

How do I apply for scholarships?

A: Scholarships are awarded based on merit and financial need. To be considered for scholarships awarded by the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, simply complete either the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application. There is no separate scholarship application to complete!

Berkeley students receive more than $10 million per year in outside scholarship aid. We strongly encourage all students to apply for outside scholarships. To start searching for outside scholarships, take a look at the scholarship search page on our website.

Note: All outside scholarships must be incorporated into your financial aid package per federal regulation. Typically, need-based loans and work-study are adjusted before university grants and/or scholarships. Exceptions apply based on awarding and/or funding restrictions. Report all outside awards in the My Finances section of CalCentral, including awards paid directly to the student.

How will my financial aid change if I change my housing option?

A: Your cost of attendance is the estimated average and reasonable cost of completing an academic year at UC Berkeley. It serves as the foundation for determining your financial need as well as the amounts and types of financial aid, including grants and scholarships, that can be offered to you. The cost of attendance varies based on your housing type, which means if your housing situation changes, expect your financial aid awards to also change. This includes a prorated adjustment to your grants and scholarships that aligns with your housing type changes.

If you are planning to change your housing option or want to see how your financial aid will change, log into CalCentral to update your housing status. UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions to federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.

How do I change my housing status?

A: You can change your housing status in the My Finances section of CalCentral. Once you’re in Cal Central, follow these simple steps to update your housing and review your financial aid.

1. My Finances: Select “$ My Finances” from the Cal Central menu to see more information about your financial aid.

2. Housing or Pathway: Simply click on “Update Housing/Pathway” and select the housing type you are considering for fall and spring. Click on “Update”, then return to your Financial Aid and Scholarship page to review the revised Cost of Attendance, awards, and Net Cost.

We encourage you to select the “View the Term Amount” options under the Estimated Cost of Attendance and Awards sections to review your costs and awards by semester.

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) says I’m eligible for Cal Grant so why don’t I see it in my financial aid package?

A: Awarding a Cal Grant award requires confirmation of many eligibility requirements for entering students, including graduation from a California high school, establishing California residency and/or completing verification. We review income verification information on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the summer. We also coordinate with both the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and the Registrar’s Office to confirm the high school completion and residency information over the summer as you are submitting documents to these offices. If we cannot confirm this information, we will contact you directly to provide the necessary documentation.

Once we document your eligibility for Cal Grant, we will update your awards. Note: Cal Grant awards generally replace university grants and scholarships, dollar for dollar. Most students will not receive Cal Grant in addition to the grants and scholarships that are currently in the award package. This allows us to maximize our limited institutional funding and ensures access to a world class education for our neediest students.

For more information, please review our Cal Grant FAQs.

UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions of federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards, including Cal Grant. Information is subject to change.

I am eligible for the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan, so why don’t I see it in my financial aid package?

A: The Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan is a University of California systemwide award designed to ensure that California resident students with an annual income of less than $80,000 receive enough in grants and/or scholarships to cover their UC systemwide tuition and fees, up to their calculated financial need (if less than the amount of systemwide tuition and fees).

The plan combines all sources of scholarship and grant awards you receive (federal, state, UC, and private) to count toward covering your fees. Therefore, most students will not see an award on their financial aid package named Blue and Gold. Instead you will see a combination of different awards adding up to, or exceeding, the amount of systemwide tuition and fees. If, for example, you receive a Pell Grant, a University grant and private scholarships that don't fully cover your systemwide tuition and fees, your Blue and Gold award will make up the difference if you have financial need. At Berkeley, however, most students awarded gift aid receive more than the amount of systemwide tuition and fees.

How do I give someone else (parent, spouse, other third party) access to my financial aid?

A: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student records and prohibits university staff from disclosing certain information to parents or other individuals without the permission of the student.

If you would like to share your financial aid package details or information about other university records with your parents, a guardian, a spouse, or other person, you will need to delegate access under "Profile" in CalCentralWatch this video or follow this step-by-step guide to get started. Note: We will be prohibited from providing your parent, guardian, spouse, etc. any information about your financial aid until you have granted access.

How will my financial aid be impacted if I receive an outside scholarship?

A: Outside scholarship awards are coordinated with your financial aid offer per federal regulation. You are required to report expected or received funds in the Award Details section of CalCentral, including awards paid directly to you.

The total of your financial aid awards, including your outside awards, cannot exceed your Cost of Attendance. If you receive an outside award, your financial aid awards will be adjusted based upon the conditions of the outside award.

To ensure our students maximize the gift aid they’ve been awarded, we typically reduce need-based loans and work-study awards first to "make room" for an outside award. Note that the terms of some outside awards may not allow for this. For example, Cal Grant and Cal Vet both pay toward tuition so you can only be awarded one type of tuition award. If the amount of your outside award(s) exceeds the amount of need-based loans and work-study in your package, then other gift aid is reduced.

Outside awards are split evenly between semesters unless donor instructions state otherwise. UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions of federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards, including Cal Grant. Information is subject to change.

Are nonresident students eligible for grants and scholarships from UC Berkeley?

A: In accordance with UC Regents policy, newly admitted, nonresident and international students are ineligible for need-based University gift aid. AB540 students are considered California residents for need-based University gift aid awarding purposes. Please see the Meeting Nonresident Costs and International Students pages for information on planning while you are at Berkeley.

How do I establish California residency?

A: Students whose parents reside outside of California are highly unlikely to obtain California residency for tuition purposes at Berkeley.  Students physically present in California solely for educational purposes are not be eligible for resident classification regardless of the length of their stay in California. This applies to students who enter as freshmen and those who transfer from community colleges or other post secondary institutions within California. Virtually all students from outside California whose parents live outside of California will be assessed Nonresident Supplemental Tuition each semester for the duration of their undergraduate career. Complete your Statement of Legal Residence as soon as possible. This will allow the Office of the Registrar to determine your residency. For more information, please see the Office of the Registrar's web page.

Note: Financial aid offers are based on student self-reported residency information until your residency status is confirmed by the Office of the Registrar. Your awards may change significantly if you are classified as a nonresident. UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions to federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.

If you are a transfer student from another state, please check the residency requirements on the Office of the Registrar’s webpage carefully. UC Berkeley residency requirements may be different than at your previous institution.

How do I remain eligible for financial aid?

A: Financial aid regulations require that students meet specific eligibility requirements, including Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to receive financial aid. Please review all eligibility requirements, including our SAP policy for more information.

I’m thinking about waiving the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). How will this impact my aid?

A: Students can choose to keep SHIP or waive enrollment if they have comparable coverage that meets the University's criteria. Note: While all students are eligible to use services at the campus health center, the Tang Center will only accept SHIP insurance.

As part of the waiver decision making process, students should consider how maintaining and/or waiving out of SHIP can impact their financial aid offer. We encourage you to review our online information to assist you in understanding how being granted a SHIP waiver and/or keeping the SHIP coverage may impact the financial aid budget and awards.

UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions to federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.

I have additional questions about financial aid. Where can I find more information?

A: We encourage students to contact Cal Student Central with questions about financial aid, registration and billing. Please note that wait times may be longer than normal during peak periods. We appreciate your patience.

 
Newly Admitted Graduates

How do I see my financial aid package?

A: Log into CalCentral and click on “My Finances” in the menu bar. Choose the “View Awards” button under Financial Aid and Scholarships to see your award and cost of attendance details, messages and tasks.

What kind of financial aid am I eligible for?

A: The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office administers federal loans and work-study awards for graduate and professional students. If you are interested in being considered for federal loans and/or work-study, please complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students receiving merit-based awards including fellowships, fee remissions for teaching and research appointments, and department awards are encouraged to contact the Graduate Division or their academic department for more information about these awards.

Haas Students: Students admitted to the Haas School of Business are encouraged to explore these additional resources.

How do I accept my financial aid?

A: To view and accept your financial aid, visit your My Finances tab in CalCentral and click on View Awards. Review your financial aid offer to ensure all fellowships, department, or other outside awards have been reported. These awards are automatically accepted for you.

Federal student loans are available to most students regardless of income and provide a range of repayment options including income-based repayment plans and loan forgiveness benefits, which other education loans are not required to provide. You may accept all, a portion of or none of your loan(s) at this time. You are under no obligation to accept the loans offered to you. We strongly encourage you to borrow only what you need to meet your educational expenses. You may accept some now, and request an additional loan later. Students enrolled at least half-time in both the fall and spring semesters have until April 1 to accept loans. You can find more information on how to accept loans on our Graduate Award Guide.

How will I receive my financial aid?

A: If you have completed all of your financial aid tasks, your financial aid (excluding work-study earnings and some private loans) will “disburse” 10 days before the start of the semester. All of your accepted financial aid will first pay your bill on Cal Central. If your financial aid exceeds the amount of your bill, you will receive a refund for the remaining amount. For refunds, please consider signing up for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). If the amount of your financial aid is less than the amount of your bill, you will be responsible for paying the remaining balance.

How do I remain eligible for financial aid?

A: Federal financial aid regulations require that students meet specific eligibility requirements, including Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) to receive financial aid. Please review all eligibility requirements, including our SAP policy for more information.

Why did my original financial aid offer change?

A: Your financial aid offer may be revised for a number of reasons. The most common reasons include the receipt of a fellowship, departmental award or a fee remission.

Other common reasons for changes to your awards include accepting less than the amount offered, changes in funding availability or eligibility criteria, changes in enrollment (e.g. fall & spring enrollment to fall enrollment only) and/or to correct an error in the original offer.

How will my financial aid be impacted if I receive an outside scholarship?

A: Outside scholarship awards, including fellowships and fee remissions, are coordinated with your financial aid offer per federal regulation. You are required to report expected or received funds in the Award Details section of CalCentral, including awards paid directly to you.

The total of your financial aid awards, including your outside awards, cannot exceed your Cost of Attendance. If you receive an outside award, your financial aid awards will be adjusted based upon the conditions of the outside award.

Outside awards are split evenly between semesters unless donor instructions state otherwise. UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions of federal, state, or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.

I’m thinking about waiving the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). How will this impact my aid?

A: Students can choose to keep SHIP or waive enrollment if they have comparable coverage that meets the University's criteria. Note: While all students are eligible to use services at the campus health center, the Tang Center will only accept SHIP insurance.

As part of the waiver decision making process, students should consider how maintaining and/or waiving out of SHIP can impact their financial aid offer. We encourage you to review our online information to assist you in understanding how being granted a SHIP waiver and/or keeping the SHIP coverage may impact the financial aid budget and awards.

Note: UC Berkeley reserves the right to adjust awards to correct any awarding errors. Changes to qualifying information or revisions of federal, state or institutional policy may result in updates to aid eligibility and adjustments of financial aid awards. Information is subject to change.