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Parent Guide

Guiding Parents to Success

As a parent of a UC Berkeley student you will already have invested significant time and resources in preparing your son or daughter for college life. The following sections are designed to answer basic questions you may have while preparing your student for college and beyond. Check out our Explore - Types of Aid page to start your search for resources and information.

This guide is designed to help inform parents of UC Berkeley students. However, some UC Berkeley students are also parents. Visit our Parent Grant page to learn about a special grant offered to parents attending UC Berkeley. Student parents can also find help and resources at the Student Parent Center.

Financing an Education

Planning and Estimating

If your student is preparing to go to college now, the Smart Student Guide has tips for you. Learn how to estimate college costs, save for your student's future educational needs, and maximize eligibility for financial aid.  For an estimate of how much aid your student might receive at Berkeley, visit our Estimate Your Financial Aid page. Visit our Scholarship Connection page to help your student apply for outside scholarships.  Application deadlines for outside scholarships are often much earlier than school deadlines for applying for financial aid, so be sure to start your search as soon as you apply to colleges.

Visit our Compare Costs page for information on how to help your student choose a college wisely. 

Family Contribution

Calculating the Contribution

Completing a financial aid application is the first step in assessing your family's ability to pay for college. Parent and student income and assets are used to determine the amount of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward college cost. The EFC consists of a Parent Contribution and a Student Contribution toward cost of attendance. For the 2020-2021 academic year, your family's expected contribution is based on income from the 2018 calendar year income and assets reported at the time you file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Dream Act Application

Appealing the Contribution

UC Berkeley does not negotiate financial aid awards in response to offers from other schools. However, we will consider a change to the family contribution. If your circumstances have changed since you completed the FAFSA or the Dream Act application,  let us know about any changes by submitting a Parent Contribution Appeal form. Visit our Appeals and Special Circumstances page for more information.

Middle-Class Contribution

If your total income is in the mid-range with typical assets and you are concerned that you will not qualify for any assistance, complete a financial aid application anyway. California residents may qualify for the Middle Class Scholarship (MCS).  See "California Residents" below.

Students Who Are Not Residents of California

Students who are not residents of California may face challenges in finding enough financial resources to attend UC Berkeley. To find out about the residency rules, visit the Registrar's residency web page. Be sure to develop a financial plan to meet your student's educational expenses until the time your student graduates from UC Berkeley. Financial tools, such as private loansoutside scholarships, and college savings plans can help.

Applying for Financial Aid

If your student is a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, they apply for financial aid every year by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The priority deadline for completing the FAFSA is March 2 every year, but if you miss the deadline, complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. You can help your student keep track of this filing deadline by marking your calendar each year and working with them to start this process during the mid-year school break. Visit our Apply for Aid page for more information.

California Residents

Visit the California Student Aid Commission website for information on applying for Cal Grant and Middle Class Scholarship funds.

If your student attended high school in California and is not eligible to submit a FAFSA, he or she may be eligible for California Dream Act aid.  See the California Student Aid Commission website for more information and the California Dream Act Application. Also visit our Berkeley Undergraduate Dream Act Aid page for more information about California Dream Act Aid at Berkeley.

The deadline to apply for Cal Grant or California Dream Act funds is March 2 each year.

Tracking Down Financial Resources

Get Access

The best way to track what's happening with your student's aid and bills is to establish regular check-ins with your student to discuss upcoming bills that may be due and deadlines that need to be met to ensure your student continues to receive aid. Check to make sure your student has visited CalCentral to see their financial aid records and has taken the necessary steps to access their loans, if they plan to take out student loans. Visit our Loans page to find out more about student loans. 

In CalCentral, your student can delegate access for you to be able to view their financial aid and billing information. We encourage you and your student to learn more about Berkeley's privacy policy regarding student records.

Grants and Scholarships? How Can You Get Them?

Grants are awards that eligible students do not have to repay or work for. Grants come from many sources and have different awarding guidelines. UC Berkeley evaluates student eligibility for federal and university grants. State agencies determine eligibility for state grants. To learn more about grants offered at UC Berkeley, visit our Grants page.

Scholarships are another form of free money that do not need to be repaid and can come from many different sources. Visit our Scholarships page for more information about scholarships administered by UC Berkeley. If your student has received notification that they are receiving a scholarship award from a source outside of UC Berkeley, learn more about how Berkeley manages these outside awards by visiting our Outside Scholarships page.

Prizes are another form of assistance that do not need to be repaid. Students compete for the prizes offered at Berkeley. Visit our Prizes page for more information.

Consider Accepting an Offered Parent Loan

Your student's My Finances page on CalCentral will display the types of aid offered. You may see a Parent  PLUS Loan offered on the Award Details page. Visit our Parent PLUS Loan page for more information on how to access the loan offered.

Private Loans

Some lenders will make private loans available to students who have additional costs that cannot be covered by other financial aid or family resources. Visit our private loans page for more information

Gaining Financial Literacy

There are many tools to help students and families estimate costs, budget, keep track of aid and bills due, and maximize their funds. Below are some links to help you get started:

Build a Budget

Financial Aid Payments and Refunds

Estimate Your Financial Aid

Tools, Tips, and Resources

Bears for Financial Success