Financial aid 101 video transcript

This is the transcript of Associate Vice Chancellor for Admissions and Enrollment Anne De Luca’s introductory video for Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley’s Facebook app, presenting basic information on Berkeley’s financial-aid process for students and families from the United States.

I’m Anne De Luca, UC Berkeley’s associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment. To start off our conversation about Financial Aid, I want to give you a short overview about our programs, and then it will be your turn to ask questions and vote on the ones you want answered. I’ll return in about a week with answers to the top vote getters.

We have just admitted an outstanding class of new freshmen for the 2012-13 school year, and I know that they and their families want to understand more about financial aid and scholarships … and I’m sure that many current students also have questions about a process that can be a bit complicated.

At Cal we have a long tradition of providing access to a world-class education for students from all financial backgrounds.  The university gave out its first financial aid back in 1897! Today, we distribute millions of dollars of financial aid every year to undergraduates from low- and middle- income families.

Here are some key stats: Today more than two-thirds of our undergraduates receive some form of financial assistance … .4 percent of all Berkeley undergraduates pay no tuition at all, due to their grant and scholarship awards ….  and, overall, our students graduate with relatively little debt — about $16,000 on average, far less than the national average of about $25,000 for students who attend public universities.

UC’s systemwide Blue and Gold plan guarantees that tuition will be paid for with grant or scholarships for all California residents who have family incomes below $80,000 per year.

But, as they say on TV, “wait, there’s more.” Here at Berkeley we recently launched an unprecedented program to expand financial aid eligibility for middle-class students. Berkeley MCAP (for Middle Class Access Plan) is targeted at families whose annual gross income ranges from $80,000 to $140,000. The program caps the contribution parents make toward the total yearly cost of attendance at 15 percent of their total income — and when we talk about yearly cost, that includes tuition, fees and expenses, books and room and board. No other public university in the country offers anything remotely similar.

We created MCAP because we know how tough it is out there for many families, and we want to do everything possible to make sure that financial challenges don’t stand in the way of qualified students who want a Berkeley education. It’s all part of what it means to be a public university.

Here’s the bottom line: There is financial aid available for every student in need from the United States, and it’s your family’s financial situation that will determine the mix of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study you are offered. So, at this point I want to help you get started exploring what may be part of a Berkeley offer for you.

As a first step all students and their parents should fill out what’s known as the FAFSA — the  Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Don’t let the name confuse you, it’s not just for federal aid — the application is what opens the door for all forms of aid at UC Berkeley. You can access the application at fafsa dot ee-dee dot gov.

Everyone, especially families who have not yet submitted a FAFSA, can also go to our “Cal-culator” at calculator dot berkeley dot edu and enter some basic financial information to get an estimate of their eligibility for aid at Berkeley.

After the FAFSA is submitted students can go to myfinaid dot berkeley dot edu — where they can see and accept their awards and grant viewing access to their parents, if they want to.

In these economic times, financial circumstances can change quickly and unexpectedly for many families.  If you fall into that category and the information on your existing FAFSA does not reflect your current situation, simply fill out the Parent Contribution Appeal form found on our website, financialaid dot berkeley dot e-d-u. If you are an independent student, you’ll want to fill out the Student Contribution Appeal form.

Now, it’s your turn to post general questions about what we offer and how it all works. Or, you can just vote for any of the questions that have already been posted. But if you have a very specific query about your own, unique circumstances, that’s what our financial aid counselors and advisors are there for. Just drop by our Sproul Hall office, or email us at f-a-o underscore u-g-r at Berkeley dot e-d-u.