For those of you who will be balancing Cal and parenting, we'd like to extend a warm welcome from a network of student parents with children ranging in age from newborn babies to others with their own kids in college...and everything in between! We're looking forward to answering questions and sharing information, resources, and support that will help you transition and succeed at UC Berkeley.
First things first…
Accepting Your Offer of Admission
If you haven't done so already, you will probably need to accept your offer of admission by June 1st 2019. And in between now and the Summer orientations, there are a number of ways to get your questions answered and begin to put your plans in place to attend Cal!
We've provided some key areas of information and web page links below, intended to provide additional guidance and reassurance! And once you've checked out all the info, and have even more questions...here are some options for beginning a dialogue with Student Parent Center staff and interns:
And now for some more in depth pointers!
Financial Aid and Scholarships:
UC Berkeley’s Financial Aid and Scholarships Office works closely with the Student Parent Center to provide financial support to students with dependent children. Some important financial aid considerations for student parents are included below. Be sure to meet the Financial Aid staff during their office hours at the Student Parent Center during the academic year. We are here to partner with you throughout your time at Berkeley.
1). Your financial aid awards may be conditional pending the completion of verification.
Note: Newly admitted students who have accepted their offer of admission and have created a Cal Net ID, can begin the verification process on the Financial Aid Forms website. If you have not registered with the Berkeley Financial Aid Forms website, you will need to do that first. This is a one-time process that matches your personal information with your aid application. Review the instructions on how to get started.
Verification: As an independent student with dependents, you'll be required to go through a verification process to document your income and establish that you provide more than 50% of support for a dependent child. To prepare, you'll need a signed copy of your 2017 tax returns, all schedules and w-2s, or if you did not need to file, please follow the instructions to document this.
You'll be asked to list the people in your household, including children that receive more than 50% of their support from you.
If you are a parent but don't claim your child on your taxes, please upload a statement about your circumstances for the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office staff to review.
2). Once you're verified you'll get an initial offer based on a "standard Cost of Attendance". The offer will include all of the awards you are eligible for, including federal, state and institutional funding. If your financial circumstances have changed since completing your aid application and/or you need to increase your student budget for dependent child expenses, please review the following processes:
Student Contribution Appeal: If the income (and/or a spouse's income) that you documented for your FAFSA or Dream application (on which your initial financial aid offer was based) will be changing when you start school, you can request an update of your financial information using this appeal process, which may result in additional grant or loan eligibility. If your Estimated Family Contribution is already $0, please consult the Financial Aid and Scholarships staff or a Student Parent Center adviser before you submit an appeal. You will find more information about the Student Contribution Appeal process on the Financial Aid and Scholarships website.
Cost of Attendance Adjustment for family expenses: Student parents are initially packaged based on a standard Cost of Attendance depending on your housing type, i.e. on-campus apartment, off-campus apartment, etc. Students who are eligible for need-based awards and have dependent-related expenses can submit a Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request (COAAR) to request an increased financial aid budget and package to help cover child care, housing, and other family maintenance expenses (like food, clothing, transportation). The process for this normally begins in August. If you live in Family Housing (and are the only adult on the UVA lease), your budget for rent will be automatically adjusted. If you have allowable one-time expenses that are not included in the initial standard budget, for example moving expenses to relocate to Cal or a computer purchase. Save those receipts for a Cost of Attendance appeal in the Fall. If you have expenses for your dependent child that are not included in a standard Cost of Attendance (e.g. food), and you also meet specific income requirements, you may request that these additional expenses be added to your budget. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office staff will award additional financial aid based on your remaining eligibility. Note that most appeals result in loan funding. Staff and interns at the Student Parent Center can go over all of these situations in more detail.
Reduced Course Loads:
Student parents with majors in the College of Letters and Sciences and also in the College of Natural Resources can submit a reduced course load request, based on family responsibilities, (and also for other reasons, like employment) and often do so, especially in the first transitional semesters. Other colleges (Engineering, Chemistry, Business, College of Environmental Design) do not have a formal policy, but do approve reduced course schedules on a case by case basis. In most instances you will retain the same level of financial aid grants, but the sources may change a bit. This policy can also provide a way for students to reduce to half time (6 units) due to pregnancy. As a student parent in Letters and Sciences you are able to request a reduced course load, typically a minimum of 8 units, for parenting reasons.
College of Letters and Science: Reduced Course Load Due to Parenthood
College of Natural Resources: Reduced Course Load Due to Parenthood
There is university owned family housing for students with children (married and not married, single and not-single parents). Your primary eligibility documentation will be based on providing a copy of your child/children's birth certificate. Family Housing is located in University Village in the City of Albany (with direct bus service to campus). Families are eligible to enroll their children in Albany Schools, which include a pre-school, on-site elementary school, after-school programs and a Teen center. They also offer subsidized before and after school programs, but space is limited. If you know that you will be requiring before and/or after school care, review the Albany Children’s Center website for more information and to learn more about how to get your child or children on their waiting list.
Cost! The rents can be initially shocking, when compared to other housing markets, but not so much when compared to the Bay Area in general. Family Housing also includes all utilities, and it eliminates the costs of commuting. Bus passes to campus are free, and a free parking space at your apartment is included.
Family Housing Deadline: Applications are accepted on an on-going basic but it's important as a newly admitted student to apply as soon as possible, as the deadline for new students is June 2nd, 2019. You can indicate a preferred move-in date anytime between now and the start of the semester, depending on your current housing obligations. Single parents get highest priority and married parents second priority.
Last year new undergrads were able to obtain a housing assignment with move in dates in June/July/August. The application fee should automatically be waived if you are a Pell Grant recipient. The $250 deposit, and first month's rent payment may also be able to be deferred to be paid by your Fall financial aid disbursement, if you ask for a deferment from the Apartment Assignments Coordinator. So don't assume you don't have access to Berkeley's Family Housing if you don't have access to the deposit and first month's rent!
Documentation of single parent status: If you don't have a formal agreement that says you have 50+ percent custody of your child/children, you can submit a notarized statement, which we can provide! If you have other ambiguous situations, like married but separated, unmarried but partners.. just let us know if you need assistance in figuring out what documentation is required.
Documentation of Residency: To be able to enroll in school/apply for childcare, even if you have not yet moved, as soon as you sign a lease, you can request a letter from the Apartment Assignments Coordinator to provide to the Albany Unified School District
The Housing Assignments Office:
2610 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone: (510) 642-4108
Childcare Programs and Schools:
The campus Early Childhood Education Program (ECEP) serves infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, at sites on campus and in University Family Housing. Low-income subsidized spots are limited, and full fee spaces are unaffordable for most student families.
If you are applying to the University sponsored Early Childhood Education Program, spaces start being assigned in mid-May, so apply now! The applications can be downloaded on their website and you can email the Student Parent Center if you have questions about the documentation needed to complete the subsidized child care application.
If you don't yet know yet what your income will be, you should be able to provide a conditional financial aid offer letter from your My Finances within Cal Central, to attach to the application.
Also, if have to apply after the deadline, indicate you are a newly admitted transfer student.
2339 Haste Street, Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone: (510) 642-1827
The Berkeley Unified School District, Children's Centers and the Berkeley-Albany Headstart Programs are another possibility for subsidized child care, and we have the intake/eligibility forms available at the Student Parent Center. The YMCA of the East Bay also offers after school programs, some of which are located at Family Housing. For more information, please see: https://www.ymcaeastbay.org/
Need to transition other benefits or to document your continued eligibility while at Cal?
The Student Parent Center can serve as your source of documentation for CalWorks, MediCal, Section 8, and CalFresh (Food Stamps) by providing income verification, training program certification, monthly progress reports, subsidized child care verification, internships to meet work requirements and referrals and advocacy for transfer or continuation of benefit eligibility. Just let us know!
Disabled Student's Program:
The Disabled Students' Program ensures all students with disabilities have equal access to educational opportunities at UC Berkeley. Their service is individually designed, and based on specific needs of each student as identified by their Disability Specialists.
Title IX law requires that schools receiving federal funds not discriminate against students on the basis of sex, which includes pregnancy and related conditions like childbirth, pregnancy termination, and recovery. This prohibition against discrimination comes in a number of forms – for example, students must not be forced to attend a different program or school than their peers, must be given the opportunity to make up missed work for pregnancy-related absences, must be treated the same as if they had a temporary disability, and may not be excluded from sports or extracurricular activities.
AND ONE MORE Information Resource (for now): The Berkeley Parents Network listserv was started a number of years ago by a graduate student at Cal, and now covers a bay area wide membership and includes multiple weekly postings covering Schools, Pre-schools, Camps and Childcare as well as a Marketplace (including free stuff) and Parenting Advice. Check out past postings at http://parents.berkeley.edu/ and subscribe at http://parents.berkeley.edu/subscribers.html
FINALLY, The Bottom Line!
Welcome to Cal, and don't hesitate to contact the Student Parent Center if you need additional information to be able to make an informed decision about accepting your offer of admission, or any assistance from fellow student parents as you begin to navigate your way around Cal!