Each school must determine a Cost of Attendance, also referred to as the "student budget", for each of its programs.
During a given period of enrollment (usually a two-trimester academic year), a student is not allowed to receive a total amount of student aid (including scholarships, grants, federal student loans, private student loans, and Federal Work-Study) that exceeds that student's Cost of Attendance.
The Cost of Attendance includes the student's tuition and fees as charged by the school, as well as allowances for books, supplies, and living expenses such as rent, food, utilities, transportation, and an allowance for miscellaneous personal expenses.
The standard Cost of Attendance budgets at California Western School of Law include a generous living expense allowance that should cover the education costs of the majority of California Western students.
We strongly urge students to limit their borrowing to the amount of the standard Cost of Attendance or ideally even less, but in some cases, a student may incur allowable education expenses that are either greater than the amounts included in the standard budget or else not included at all.
In these cases and at its discretion, a school's financial aid office may allow students to request an adjustment based on their documented actual expenses.
If approved, such an adjustment will result in additional eligibility for federal student aid, usually in the form of Federal Graduate PLUS loans.
A Cost of Attendance is tied to a period of enrollment (generally a two-trimester academic year). If a student incurs costs that exceed the amount in certain included budget categories, or certain allowable costs that are not included in the standard cost of attendance, the student may request an adjustment for those costs.
Some allowable costs:
Note that the Financial Aid Office may limit the amount of a student's increase for any reason, and must decline an increase if it is determined that the cost was not incurred during the current period of enrollment or if it is not an allowable education-related expense.
Some unallowable costs:
Because most budget increases must be done after an expense is incurred, students may wish to determine in advance whether a cost would be approved prior to incurring that cost. In such cases, students should submit a request for a pre-approval.
Financial Aid Office staff will review the request and inform the student of the amount that would be approved.
After a pre-approval, a student must still submit proof that the pre-approved payment was made during the current award period in order to receive a budget adjustment and additional student aid.
Since most budget increases result in eligibility for additional Graduate PLUS, a student may undergo an additional credit check. A student will be required to obtain an additional endorser addendum if the student needs an endorser to qualify for Graduate PLUS.
Students should not rely on their requested funds until those funds are disbursed by the Business Office. Any expenditures or financial decisions made prior to disbursement are the student's responsibility and are at the student's own risk.
The form to request a budget increase is available on our Forms page or via this direct link. The form to request an increase for bar exam costs is available here.