As a student, you are typically eligible for significant government loans. To apply, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Your financial information will be forwarded from the Department of Education directly to the graduate division, at which point you will be issued an offer letter online and in paper. Accepting your loans and getting a check is as easy as filling out the “offer letter” electronically in CalCentral. Men must be registered with the selective service (the draft) to be eligible for federal loans.
Remember, however, that loans are not free money – they may make your life more comfortable, but it is your responsibility to pay them back. To make this a little easier, you do not have to pay your loans while you are enrolled in school, and you are given a 6-month grace period after you graduate (though interest does accrue during this time).
Be sure to check out Berkeley’s online resources for managing your finances – Financial Success Resources and cashcourse.org – these websites will help teach you great tools for keeping track of your spending. Graduate school is stressful enough – no need to tack on money worries on top of getting that first paper published!