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“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

A Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of California, Berkeley is an investment in a rewarding career and in yourself. Numerous programs – from fellowships and loans, to fee reductions and loan forgiveness – create paths to finance the cost of your graduate studies.

UC Berkeley Fellowships and Awards

Over $1.5 million in fellowships and awards are made annually by UC Berkeley to our current students.

All OD students in good standing receive these monetary awards. Depending on availability of funds, students receive a total award of approximately $24,000 spread out over the 4-year program.

Domestic non-residents will receive an additional $5,000 in the first year of study to augment Nonresident Supplemental Tuition (NRST). It is expected that US citizens and permanent residents will successfully apply for California residency by their second year of study.

International students will receive an additional $5,000 in their first year to augment Nonresident Supplemental Tuition. In their second through fourth years, international students are responsible for the full cost of Nonresident Supplemental Tuition.

You do not need to apply for Departmental Awards. They are automatically applied to all students in good standing.

For more information and resources for international students, please contact UC Berkeley’s International Office.

Four Graduate Opportunity Awards (GOP) & Four Optometry Opportunity Awards (1 faculty, 2 alumni and 1 faculty & staff) will be awarded to the incoming class who demonstrate significant financial need and whose backgrounds, interests, or goals serve to enhance the level of diversity within the graduate community.

Subject to funding availability, GOP & OOA awards provide a $10,000 stipend ($5,000 per semester), tuition and in-state fees for the first year (only). This is in addition to the departmental award and $5,000 towards Nonresident Supplemental Tuition (described above).

Eligible applicants (including US citizens, permanent residents, and AB540 applicants) who wish to be considered for these awards should submit additional documentation and information as described in the application for admission. This award supplants the Departmental Award in year one of the OD program.

The Optometry Dean’s Fellowship seeks to improve the quality of education of all our students by admitting students with diverse backgrounds/experiences or who have expertise in the area of underserved populations, or racial or gender inequalities. We anticipate that this fellowship will assist in creating a student body who are committed to diversity, respect for cultural differences, and promotion of social justice. Achieving health equity, eliminating disparities, and improving the health of all population groups is a guiding principle of our program. This fellowship, modeled after the University of California, Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Fellowship, offers funding to students that may meet one or more of the following criteria.

Potential to bring to one’s academic career the critical perspective that comes from a non-traditional educational background or one’s understanding of the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in higher education; Communication skills and cross-cultural abilities to maximize effective collaboration with a diverse cross-section of the academic community; Demonstrated significant academic achievement by overcoming barriers such as economic, social, or educational disadvantage; Potential to contribute to higher education through understanding the barriers facing domestic minorities, students with disabilities, and other members of groups underrepresented in higher education careers, as evidenced by life experiences and educational background (e.g. attendance at a minority serving institution, ability to articulate the barriers facing minorities in science and engineering fields, participation in higher education pipeline programs such as UC Leads, Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP), The Leadership Alliance or McNair Scholars; Academic service advancing equitable access to higher education for women and racial minorities in the fields where they are underrepresented; Leadership experience among students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in optometry; research interests focusing on underserved populations and understanding issues of racial or gender inequalities (e.g. research that addresses issues such as race, gender, diversity, and inclusion, health disparities, educational access and achievement, political engagement, economic justice, social mobility, civil and human rights, and other questions of interest to historically underrepresented groups).

Over $150,000 is awarded annually through Professional Student Support Fund (PSSF) scholarships. These awards, available to continuing students, are made possible through the generosity of faculty and alumni of the school.
Native Americans are among the most underrepresented groups within higher education, including at UC Berkeley. As part of our commitment to expand diversity and make graduate education more affordable and accessible to students of all backgrounds, financial support opportunities will ensure that all newly accepted and current California Native American UC students can attend tuition free. Please contact Admissions & Student Affairs for more information
Student parents make up about 10% of Berkeley’s graduate population. Visit Berkeley Graduate Division or speak to our AD of Admissions for more information.


The UC Berkeley Financial Aid and Scholarships Office works closely with students to make a priceless UC Berkeley education an affordable reality. We suggest reviewing the types of aid that are available, eligibility requirements, and our financial aid calculator to learn more about financial aid. Graduate students interested in using federal loans or earning federal work study to help fund their education must fill out a free application for federal student aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA school code for UC Berkeley is 001312. Additionally, Optometry students are eligible for the Health Professions Student Loan and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

A Health Professions Student Loan (HPSL) is a subsidized low-interest loan limited to Optometry students on the UC Berkeley campus. Students typically receive around $7,500 of HPSL per academic year. Annual loan amounts can vary and are determined each year based on fund availability.

To be considered for an HPSL, Optometry students need to include parent information on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), regardless of their independent status for all other programs.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 (10 years) qualifying payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. Loans will only be forgiven if you meet all PSLF Program eligibility conditions.

Extramural Scholarships

OD students also have many additional outside scholarship opportunities throughout their four years in the program. The following list is not exhaustive and students are encouraged to seek out additional opportunities that may be available. Examples include the military based scholarships, such as the Air Force, Army, and Navy Optometric Scholarships, veteran’s educational benefits, and those administered by the American Optometric Association (AOA).

Awards can range between $1,000-$5,000 dollars and are provided by various organizations across the country: including non-profits, health and medical corporations, and optometric associations.
Veteran’s educational benefits for eligible servicemen and women can provide significant financial assistance. UC Berkeley Veteran Services offers information related to the types of benefits, certification of benefits, contact information for dedicated support, and campus resources for students who have served in the military.

Eligibility for veteran’s educational benefits is determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), not by UC Berkeley. You may apply for veterans’ educational benefits online through Veterans On-Line Application (VONAPP).

Current students, who are eligible, can apply for scholarships funded by branches of the US Military. Some awards can cover 100% of costs including tuition and living expenses. Military service is required after graduation. For more information please see links below.

Fee Reductions

OD students have three possible options for lowering their cost of attendance: become a California resident, registering for ‘In Absentia’ status (Year 4), and waiving the student health insurance plan.

After the first year of the program, non-resident U.S. citizens and permanent residents may apply to become in-state residents. This will reduce your fees by removing the non-resident supplemental tuition in the subsequent semesters.
In absentia registration is available to eligible professional graduate students. Students registered in absentia are assessed full health insurance fees, and 15 percent of the combined University Tuition and Student Services Fees. If applicable, students are also assessed the full non-resident tuition and/or professional school fees. OD students who qualify for in absentia status can reduce their university bill for one semester in the fourth year of the program (Fall/Spring only), if rotations place them outside a certain radius of the East Bay.
Students may be eligible to waive the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) provided by UC Berkeley. Students can save about $3,100 per semester. Please visit the SHIP website for more information, see below for the link.
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