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Funding and Employment for Current Students

Welcome, Brennies! 

Please use this as your guide for funding and employment resources. As always, Bren School staff are here to help if you have any questions along the way ( 

Funding Options and Financial Support Resources for Bren Students:

  1. Financial Aid: The UCSB Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (FinAid) distributes financial aid, work-study, and other FAFSA-related support to UCSB students. There is a "Cost of Living Calculator" on their website to provides students with a better sense of the total costs including rent, books, food, and other personal expenses. Additional graduate student loan information can be found on their website along with a link to the Financial Awareness Counseling which is available through the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site and is a great tool for students to use when managing their finances.
  2. Work-Study and On-Campus Employment Opportunities: Many students qualify for Work-Study, which can be applied to employment opportunities both on and off campus. Hiring students with Work-Study awards is beneficial to employers because the Work-Study program pays a percentage of the student employees gross wage. Students may work on campus in the one of the following positions: TA, GSR, Reader, or Student Assistant. See more information on these positions below under On-Campus Employment. In addition, the Bren School may hire second-year MESM students as writing or math consultants to tutor other current MESM students. Bren School staff will send these advertisements to students via email. Additional graduate student campus employment resources can be found on the UCSB Graduate Division’s website.
  3. Off-Campus Employment: Sometimes students prefer to work part-time positions off-campus that are related to their post-graduation career goals. Off-campus internships and job opportunities are regularly circulated to students through Bren email lists including ( - click here to subscribe.) In addition, the Bren Career Development team circulates job and internship announcements through BrenConnect. The career team is always available ( for career advising if a student is having trouble with their internship or job search.
  4. UC and UCSB Fellowships and Scholarships: The UCSB Graduate Division and the UCSB FinAid Office have several lists of funding opportunities, including campus-wide funding, and University of California opportunities. The UCSB Division of Student Affairs also has a list of scholarships on their website. ScholarshipUniverse is a scholarship matching tool that helps UCSB students find and apply for both internal and external scholarships.
  5. UCSB Graduate Division Digital Fellowship Library: The Digital Fellowship Library contains samples of successful fellowship applications from your peers and features a wide variety of fellowship proposals. You can filter by award name, award year, field of study, discipline, and document type.
  6. UCSB Basic Needs Resources: For more information on food pantries, prepared meals, food security and CalFresh advocates, financial crisis response team, etc.:
  7. UCSB Financial Crisis Response Team: After all financial aid options including loans have been exhausted, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships provides assistance such as meal vouchers, referrals to on campus resources, possible grant assistance (students must complete the Financial Crisis Team application and be reviewed), International Student Loan. To contact the Financial Crisis Response Team, email
  8. UCSB Division of Student Affairs Money Matters Guide
  9. Additional Loans for Domestic Graduate Students
  10. Bren School Summer Internship Funding (SIF). By helping students pay for a portion of travel and housing costs, SIF funding is intended to facilitate students completing internships that present an opportunity to gain valuable experience despite offering no or low compensation. Visit BrenConnect for information on the application process.
  11. Bren School funding to support students attending professional conferences. See the Bren School Conference Funding Request Form for more information.

Quick Facts:

  • The cost of a graduate education at UCSB is significantly less than at most other well-respected universities, making the Bren School a particularly cost-effective choice among environmental science and management programs.
  • UCSB's Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships provides work-study and loans, offering up to $45,000 a year to CA residents and up to $65,000 a year to out-of-state students.
  • For domestic non-residents from other U.S. states, establishing California residency after your first year is easy, resulting in significantly reduced tuition costs in your second year.
  • The number of Bren students graduating with debt has decreased in recent years, with only 32% graduating with debt in 2018.
  • Last year, over 60% of MESM students secured academic student employment for at least one quarter which paid a salary, regular tuition, and health insurance for the quarter they were employed. (Tuition remission for Academic Student Employment does not cover Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST) or Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (PDST).
  • In the 2018-19 academic year, Bren students secured 124 academic employment positions, primarily TA positions, in 19 campus departments, including Earth Science, Environmental Studies, Economics, Physics, Women’s Studies, and Anthropology, among others.

Quarterly Tuition and Fees:

See a summary of the quarterly tuition and fees in the table below. 

Please note that fee and tuition costs are subject to change at the discretion of the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and the PDST is considered for a 3% increase annually.

Most out-of-state domestic students establish California residency for tuition purposes and do not pay NRST in the second year.

For more information about fees, visit the Office of the Registrar's website.

Estimated Quarterly Fees + Tuition Costs

The Master of Environmental Science and Management is a 6-quarter program.

California Residents Non-Residents International Students
Academic Fees + Tuition $4,190 $4,190 $4,190
Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (PDST) $3,333 $3,333 $3,333
Campus-based Fees $332.51 $332.51 $332.51
Health Insurance (UC SHIP) $1,431 $1,431 $1,431
Year 1 Non-resident Tuition $4,082 $4,082
Year 2 Non-resident Tuition - if residency is established $4,082
Total Cost of 2-year (6-quarter) program $55,719 $67,965 $80,211

BARC and UCSB Business & Financial Services
The Billings Accounts Receivable Collections unit (BARC) is the UCSB campus centralized receivable system. This system allows students to view any outstanding balances, including registration fees, campus housing charges, phone bills, and student health services. Visit the Business & Financial Services website for more information on how to access your BARC account and pay your bill.

Paying your Bill
UCSB students must pay their fees quarterly in full by the first day of instruction. Acceptable forms of payment include cash, money order, checks, E-checks, credit card, or domestic and international wire transfers. All checks should be made out to UC Regents and include your PERM number or billing account number on the check.

If for some reason you cannot make a payment in full, call the UCSB Business & Financial Services Office at 805-893-3756 to set up a payment plan.

Establishing California Residency for Tuition Purposes
To establish California residency, students must 1) be continuously physically present in California for more than one year (366 days) immediately prior to the residence determination date (e.g., the first day of classes), AND 2) intend to make California their home permanently. You can demonstrate your intention to stay in California by relinquishing legal ties to your former state and establishing legal ties to California. View some of the ways to establish intent, as identified by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), by visiting the How to Establish Residency section of UCOP's Understanding Residency website.

Out-of-state students who wish to establish in-state residency for their second year of study may wish to begin the process during their first year of study. Questions regarding residency may be answered at the UCSB Registrar's website or submitted to the UCSB Residency Deputy (

Fellowship Award Disbursement
For students receiving a Bren School recruitment fellowship, your BARC account will be credited by the first day of instruction, as long as you are registered for class well in advance of the first day of school. You may still receive an email from BARC prior to the start of the quarter regarding payment of fees.  If for some reason you still do not see a credit after the start of the quarter, please contact the Bren School Student Affairs and Admissions team. 

Financial Aid and FAFSA
Students' Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms are processed by UCSB's Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (not the Bren School). UCSB graduate students are notified of eligibility for student loans by the Financial Aid Office during the summer. You can check your financial aid status by logging-in here. Any questions regarding financial aid packages and loans should be directed to the UCSB Financial Aid office at 805-893-2432.

When you complete the FAFSA, you may qualify for work-study, which can be applied to employment opportunities both on and off campus (if the employer qualifies). Hiring students with work-study awards is beneficial to employers because the work-study program pays a percentage of the student employees gross wage. You must elect to use your work-study award, so please make sure you fill out the appropriate paperwork. You can search for on and off-campus work-study positions on the UCSB Career Services website. In most cases, Student Assistant and Research Assistant Positions are eligible to use work-study.

On-Campus Employment Opportunities

Student Assistant Positions
Most staff units within the Bren School hire MESM students as Student Assistants. Often these jobs do not directly relate to the students' academic or professional interests, but their pay (~$13 - $18/hour), flexible hours, and convenient location make them of interest to students. Staff units who hired student assistants for the 2019-20 academic year include Career Development & Alumni Relations; Student Affairs & Admissions; Events; Facilities Maintenance; and Computing. Staff units circulate announcements advertising opportunities throughout the year to cohort listservs as they identify hiring needs, though most prefer to hire Student Assistants in Fall Quarter. You are automatically signed up to receive these announcements. 

Research Assistant Positions
Research Assistant positions can be arranged directly with the faculty member who needs a student to assist with research. If you are interested in a research position, then you should contact the professor who is doing research of interest to you to inquire whether any positions are available for next year. 

Alternatively, faculty members will circulate temporary Research Assistant positions among our MESM cohorts soliciting help on short-term projects or proposals. Many announcements of this type are distributed throughout the year, usually by the Bren School Career Development team.

Research Assistant (RA) positions are different from Graduate Student Research (GSR) positions. The RA position is typically paid an hourly rate in exchange for assisting faculty in their research. GSR positions are usually held by PhD students doing research in their faculty advisor's lab, for which they receive a salary and tuition remission. On occasion, MESM students are hired as a GSR, usually in the second year. If you are hired by a faculty member to assist in research, it is important to be clear about their (and your) expectations for compensation.

A Reader appointment is for a student to serve as a "course assistant," which will normally include grading of student papers and final examinations. These are good opportunities for students who do not want to commit to a TA or a GSR position but who still want to work on campus. More details can be found on the UCSB Graduate Division’s website.

Teaching Assistant (TA) Positions

Overview and Benefits
TA positions are a great way for students to gain teaching experience while offsetting costs of school. In the 2019-2020 academic year, MESM students obtained 160 TA appointments in 19 different departments on campus. That was over 60% of MESM students employed as a TA during at least one quarter last year.

If you are employed as a TA at 25-50% time (10-20 hours per week, respectively), you receive a salary and of payment of tuition and health insurance for the quarter(s) you are employed (see the table below). TA positions do not cover campus fees ($328 per quarter), or the $3,333 per quarter Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition (PDST), or the $5,034 per quarter Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition (NRST). For more information, please visit the UCSB Graduate Division website's Academic Appointments section.

TA financial benefits

*Please note the amounts listed above are from the 2019-2020 academic year and they are subject to change at the discretion of the University of California Office of the President (UCOP).

Any student who has secured a TA position for any department on campus is required to attend a mandatory TA Orientation. Any student who secures a TA position at a later point in the school year may schedule a make-up orientation with Lisa Berry (; 805-893-8395) at UCSB Instructional Development. All TA's are also required to complete Sexual Harassment Prevention training and in many instances must complete additional trainings specific to the department. For example, MCDB and EEMB require students to complete Lab Safety Training and to enroll in a special course: MCSB/EEMB 502, to be eligible for their positions. It is the student's responsibility to ensure they have completed the proper training. Before accepting a position, please make sure you know what training, weekly meetings or other commitments you are responsible for your position and ensure they do not conflict with your course schedule. It is not acceptable to miss class on a regular basis for TA duties. 

How to find a TA position
At UC Santa Barbara, students are eligible to TA for the level of education they have completed. The Bren School does not offer undergraduate classes, so we cannot hire MESM students to TA Bren classes. Bren staff distribute any advertisements received from departments via email to incoming students; however, students who wish to secure TA positions should directly contact UCSB departments with undergraduate programs that employ TA's. All UCSB departments have a different process and timeline for recruiting TAs. TA selection for Fall Quarter typically starts in Spring Quarter and continues throughout the summer up until just before the start of the school year. 

Subscribe to the UCSB Graduate Division's GradTech Forum located on Google GroupsThe purpose of this forum is to connect Graduate Students seeking Student Academic Employment with departments in need of additional support. Please feel free to contact the Graduate Division directly at if you have any questions.

Who to Contact
Students must reach out to the graduate program assistants in the UCSB undergraduate or graduate departments they’d like to work for. Alternatively, you could reach out to the faculty member who is teaching the course you’d like to assist. 
Many Bren MESM students work as TAs in the Environmental Studies (ES) department; however, MESM students have worked in nearly every department on campus. Choosing a department to work for highly depends on your academic background and interests. The ES department contact for TA appointments is Erinn Magann ( Other common departments for MESM students are Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology (EEMB) and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB). If you are interested in being a TA in the Communications department at UCSB, they have set up a link to submit your information and indicate your interest. All other department contact information and annual updates to posted positions can be found on the UCSB Academic Personell’s Graduate Student Academic Appointments page (click ASE Open Positions). Additionally, Bren students recently put together this helpful pdf of contacts for the departments that MESM students worked in during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years. 
Important Things to Consider
When you apply for Teaching Assistant positions, it is important to remember you represent the Bren School- professional courtesy applies. Most departments have obligations to fund their graduate students first and then look to hire from outside departments. You may not hear from them right away, and it is not unusual for Bren students to get hired in the weeks right before the start of the quarter. They receive high volumes of applications from students and expect you to notify them if you are no longer available (i.e. have accepted another position) and, most importantly, to follow through with any acceptance of employment.

Additionally, check to make sure that your schedule of classes enables you to TA for the section you are assigned and that you understand all of your required responsibilities (i.e. do you need to proctor exams, attend all lectures?) before you say yes. It is NOT acceptable to miss class so you can TA or to bail on a TA position at the last minute. This type of behavior may inhibit you or other Bren students from being hired in that department in the future. Please also note that the lunch hour (11am -12pm) Monday-Thursday have been left open for Bren-related events such as seminars, career and academic program workshops. Please do not schedule sections or other commitments over this time, as students are expected to attend these sessions.

Additional Resources

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