Student Loan Programs

Federal Student Loan Programs provide the major source of need-based financial aid funding for graduate professional degree students, and most graduate students easily qualify for federal aid. Social workers with educational debt may also be eligible for certain loan forgiveness or payment modification programs. Berkeley participates in the Federal Direct Student Loan and Work-Study Programs, which are administered by the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office.

How to Apply for Financial Assistance

Eligibility is based entirely on demonstrated financial need, and requires filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You must file the FAFSA every year. Berkeley’s FAFSA school code is 001312.

The priority deadline to file a FAFSA is usually March 1 for the upcoming academic year – but even if you miss the priority deadline, you should still complete the FAFSA. To be considered for any university or departmental funding, you should file the FAFSA even if you are not sure you will need or want any aid from the Financial Aid Office - you can always decide later. The University must have your FAFSA for the current academic year on file in order to award you any type of fellowship.


Work-study is a federally subsidized hourly wage job program. Graduate students with a work-study award as part of their financial aid package from the Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships Office can apply for work-study jobs. Students who do not have work-study but do have financial need (currently receiving student loans) may also convert unpaid need-based loans to work-study. Some MSW field placement agencies may also participate in Work-Study and offer a small stipend.

For Work-Study program information, eligibility requirements, and instructions please visit the Work-Study Program.

Short-Term Emergency Loans

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office offers short-term, interest-free emergency loans designed to help students meet unanticipated expenses directly related to the cost of education.

For short-term loan amounts, dates of availability, and how to apply, please see Short Term Emergency Loans.

Student Loan Resources

Graduate Award Guide (Berkeley Financial Aid Office)
How to understand, accept and manage your financial aid offers.

FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
Apply for aid here: this is your first step in getting student aid. You must do this every year.
Official federal student aid website: apply for aid; complete the aid process; learn about repayment plan options; manage your loans.

National Student Loan Data System
Loan history; servicer name and contact information; aggregate debt and remaining balances.

Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs

Social workers with educational debt may be eligible for certain loan forgiveness or payment modification programs. Click on each program name for further information:

Graduated, Extended, and Income-based Repayment Plans
Income- or time-based repayment plans available to help make payments more affordable.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on eligible federal student loans after having made 120 payments on those loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program
Offers fully trained and licensed clinical social workers up to $60,000 to repay student loans in exchange for two years serving in an approved community-based site in a high-need Health Professional Shortage Area.

California State Loan Repayment Program
Authorizes repayment of educational loans to health professionals who commit to practice in medically underserved areas in public or non-profit entities for a minimum of two years and maximum of four years.

Licensed Mental Health Services Provider Education Program
Up to $15,000 to repay educational loans over a two-year period in exchange for a two-year commitment to practice and provide direct care in a publicly funded or public mental health facility, a non-profit mental health facility, a mental health professions shortage area, or in a Public Mental Health System. Registered or Licensed Clinical Social Workers are eligible to apply, and awards are made on a competitive basis.