Why are donor-funded scholarships important to UC Berkeley?

Thirty years ago, Berkeley got roughly half of its funding from the State of California. Currently Berkeley receives just 14 percent of its funding from the State. The rest of our operating budget comes mostly from federal student aid, research funding, and private philanthropy. This means that, in a single generation, Cal has had to change its financial model significantly in order to support the needs of students and the campus. As a result we rely greatly on the generosity of our donors — alumni, the parents of current and former students, private foundations, and other friends of the university — to help fund our financial aid program. Many donors choose to create endowed scholarships that are invested for Berkeley in perpetuity, providing an annual distribution to the campus used to directly fund financial aid packages. This has allowed Berkeley to maintain aid to students so that students take out less loans and graduate with less debt. In 2015–16, Berkeley was able to provide over $40 million in scholarship funding to undergraduates through philanthropy.

Why am I being asked to do this?

You are the recipient of a donor-funded scholarship with one or more living contacts, and those contacts wish to receive information about the the recipients of their scholarship.

Why/how did I receive this scholarship?

All scholarships awarded by the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office (FASO) are need- and merit-based. There is no separate application process to receive funding from this type of scholarship.

In the spring, you are offered a financial aid package based on the information you provided on your FAFSA and on the pool of financial aid funding the campus has available for the upcoming academic year; this includes State and Federal aid (Cal and Pell grants, respectively). After you enroll in August, the sources of the campus funding you are eligible to receive are determined by the FASO. In cases like yours it is determined that some support will come from a donor-funded scholarship.

Does this mean I am getting additional financial aid?

No. Unless the FASO determines there is a change in your financial need, the aid package you are offered in the spring will remain the same. In the spring, FASO determines the pool of money it has to disperse to students qualifying for financial aid. The office creates financial packages based on this amount and on each students’ FAFSA. When students enroll in the fall and their presence at the university is confirmed, FASO goes back and matches financial aid with specific named scholarship funds in addition to other sources such as work study and loans.

Why wasn’t I given more advance notice that I would need to complete a profile?

Matches to named scholarship funds are made in two groups: one is not completed until October 1 and another group is not ready until November 1. We email students as soon as possible after we receive this information, mailing responses by December for the first group and February for the second. FASO is unable to make these matches in spring as they need to be made after students have enrolled for the fall and their presence on campus is confirmed.

How do I find out more about the donors of my scholarships?

A scholarship biography is included along with the email you received notifying you of this scholarship and directing you to fill out a profile. Within your profile you can invite your donor to contact you, if you wish. You may also email fundstewardship@berkeley.edu with specific questions about your donors and their scholarship fund.

Who will see my profile?

We are very careful to protect our students’ privacy. When you are done creating your profile, we will ask you to make a choice about privacy:

If you select “NO,” your profile will be read and lightly edited for grammar and punctuation by a university staff member and then sent to the donor. No one else will see your profile.

If you select “YES,” your profile will be read and lightly edited for grammar and punctuation by a university staff member and mailed to the donor; in addition, you give us permission to use quotes from your profile in other university materials that support scholarship fundraising at Berkeley.

What should I do if I need more time?

We understand that things come up! We’re happy to give you an extension if you need one. To discuss a new deadline, reply to the email you received or write fundstewardship@berkeley.edu.

I submitted a response last year; do I need to submit another one this year?

Yes. On the first page of the profile form, there will be a question that reads, "Do you know your donors personally or have you received this scholarship before?" If you have not received any new scholarships this year, then select "YES." This will send you to a separate form where you can provide a short update for your donors.

If you have received new scholarships this year, please select "NO" to the aforementioned question. We will provide you with access to your profile from last year. Please make sure your profile is up to date. 

What happens if I don’t fill out a profile?

The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office will likely swap the scholarship funding source you received so that you are funded by another source. This will not negatively impact your financial aid package. If you have questions about changes to your funding due to a scholarship re-award, please write to fundstewardship@berkeley.edu.