On what should have been a carefree day of reconnecting with friends and settling into new classes recently, more than two dozen students at the University of California, Berkeley, sat in uneasy silence outside the financial aid office.
The airy room on the second floor of Sproul Hall took on the desperate feeling of an unemployment office, with students waiting their turn to plead for emergency loans.
“I want to have enough money to pay for school,” Daniel Seman, a junior majoring in English and music, said as he waited to see a financial aid counselor last Wednesday. “My mom is really worried.”
Mr. Seman, 23, said he had already spent an emergency loan of $500 from the university on books and food. But faced with about $7,230 for tuition and fees this semester, roughly $1,000 more than the fall semester last year, he was back in line trying to get another loan.