Why Students Take Summer Classes
Some students take advantage of summertime to take a break from school and recharge themselves for the next semester. Others take the summer as an opportunity to catch up on failed courses to improve grades, knock out electives, or get ahead to graduate sooner by taking summer courses. Summer classes can be beneficial by reducing costs of room and board in the long run if you’re graduating early. It also potentially means you’ll start working full-time and earning more sooner.
You’ve already got the finances figured out for your fall and spring semesters. Now that you’ve realized the benefits of attending a summer session, you may be wondering what your options are when it comes to paying for those extra summer classes. Will you have time for a summer job? Can you get financial aid for summer classes? Are there scholarships available? Does the FAFSA cover summer classes?
Here are some ways that college students can pay for a summer session:
1. File the FAFSA for summer financial aid.
If you’re asking yourself, “Does FAFSA cover summer classes?”, the answer may pleasantly surprise you. Yes, you may be able to get federal financial aid for summer classes if you haven’t already taken your maximum available for the academic year and if you’ll be enrolled at least half time during the summer session. It all starts with your FAFSA, and your individual school determines which FAFSA application they use for the summer session. If you already have a FAFSA on file for the previous fall/spring academic year, you may not need to file a new one for summer. Alternatively, if they need a new FAFSA for summer classes, you’ll want to apply as soon as you can. Federal aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
The National Student Loan Data System is a great way to check how much federal aid you’ve used up in any given year and if you have anything remaining. Your school’s financial aid office is a key resource too. Before you decide on completing a summer session, make sure you do your research and check with all the right resources to plan out how to fund it. If you do it right, you’ll be able to get ahead on your education without stressing too much about cost.
2. Explore summer jobs and internships.
If you’re planning on a summer session, it’s unlikely that a full-time summer job will be possible. However, since summer sessions tend to be lighter than other semesters, a part-time summer job might fit in comfortably with your schedule. As long as you’re sure that you’re not taking on too much and that it won’t interfere with your studies, a part-time summer job can be a great way to offset those summer session costs, while also getting hands-on experience. You might even be able to get an on-campus job or a work-study position.
Another option is to apply for a paid internship. You will not only earn credits towards your degree but also make some money too. This can help to cancel out your college expenses for the summer or may even put you ahead.
3. Look for scholarships for summer classes.
Some scholarships are offered year-round and don’t impose limits on which semesters they apply to. Whether you’ve been awarded scholarship money in the past or you’re applying for the first time, it’s definitely worth a shot to apply for a scholarship if you are thinking about a summer session. There are a lot of terrific online tools out there that can help you search thousands of scholarships at one time.
4. Research summer grant programs.
There are various funding programs out there that are designed specifically for students looking to take classes during the summer. A quick Internet search is a great way to see your options. Some are offered through individual universities, whereas others are offered on a state level (Pennsylvania, for instance, has a summer grant program).
5. Consider summer classes at a different school.
Consider taking summer classes at a different school, such as a local community college. As long as you’re able to transfer the credits to your full-time school and use them towards your degree, this could help you save money on tuition and graduate faster. You could even expand your search to include online classes as well. Just make sure you know exactly how the credits will transfer and any steps you need to take to make that happen. You don’t want to waste time and money on classes that won’t help toward your goal of graduation. Your academic advisor should be able to help you figure out which summer classes and credits will transfer.
6. Apply for Private Student Loans for summer classes.
If you’ve already reached your annual federal student loan limit and need to pay for your summer session, College Ave Student Loans may be able to help. We offer private student loans that you can tailor to meet your needs. Learn more about the student loans we offer and get started on your application today.
Can you get financial aid for summer classes? Does FAFSA cover summer classes?
Yes, you may be able to get financial aid for your summer classes. For the most part, federal financial aid (obtained by completing the FAFSA) and student loans work the same during summer sessions as they do during the regular school year. Federal student loans have specific eligibility requirements you need to satisfy in order to gain access to the funds, regardless of the semester.
Here is what you need to know about using financial aid for summer classes:
Using FAFSA for Summer Aid
The only way to qualify for federal financial aid for summer classes is by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is the most important step you can take when figuring out how to pay for college. The FAFSA will determine your eligibility for the whole academic year, including summer sessions.
If you already have a FAFSA on file for the previous fall/spring academic year, you may not need to file a new one for summer. Your individual school determines which FAFSA application they use for summer sessions. For example, you may have filled out the 2022-2023 school year application, but if you take classes in August 2023, that may fall into the 2023-2024 school year depending on your school’s schedule. It’s best to ask your school’s financial aid office whether you’ve already completed the correct form.
If you do need to fill out the FAFSA again, you can check the FAFSA website for deadlines, directions, and announcements.
Federal Deadlines for 2023 and 2024
2022-2023 Academic Year: Online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2023. Any corrections or updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 9, 2023.
2023-2024 Academic Year: Online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT) on June 30, 2024. Any corrections of updates must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 14, 2024.
Each college or career school might have its own deadline. Ask your school about its definition of an application deadline, whether it is the date the school receives your FAFSA form or the date your FAFSA form is processed.
Varies by state.
Qualifying for Financial Aid for Summer Session
Once you’ve filled out the FAFSA, your eligibility will be based on other factors that may be more applicable to the summer session. You will need to be registered for classes at least half-time (which is usually six credits) in order to qualify for federal loans for summer classes. Again, you should check with your school to make sure you have enough credits to be considered half-time enrolled.
There are also dollar limits on federal financial aid. When you get your financial aid letter (probably right before the fall session starts), you’ll see the maximum amounts you have been granted. As an undergraduate, most students can borrow between $5,500 and $7,500 annually (depending on your year in school) and up to $31,000 in total in federal student loans. Graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 annually and $138,500 in total in Unsubsidized Direct loans and also have the option to take Direct PLUS loans beyond that. The limit you’re assigned depends on your year in school, the cost of the school you attend and factors like dependency status. The important thing to remember is that these are annual limits that stretch over fall, spring, winter, and summer sessions.
The same goes for any grants and scholarships you receive. If you used up all your financial aid for the spring and fall semesters, there may not be any remaining summer financial aid. For example, if you qualify for a Pell Grant, the maximum is $6,195 per student, per year. Once that amount is used up for the school year, you won’t have any left over to pay for the summer session.
If you find yourself needing additional financial aid for a summer session class, apply for a private student loan with College Ave today!