Summer Financial Aid: How to Get Student Loans for Summer Classes
Taking summer classes can help you get ahead on your college education but paying for them isn’t always as straightforward as it is for the fall and spring semesters. In addition to federal student loans, you might consider federal grants, scholarships, a part-time job, or private student loans.
If you’re thinking about taking summer classes, chances are one of the biggest question on your mind is, “How am I going to pay for it?”
If you’re like most students, you’re probably already relying on financial aid to pay for your tuition and living expenses during the fall and spring semesters.
But does financial aid cover summer classes? Do you have to fill out a separate summer FAFSA?
Read on for the answers you need.
On this page:
- Does Financial Aid Cover Summer Classes?
- How to Pay for Summer Classes
Does Financial Aid Cover Summer Classes?
If you’ve already applied for and received federal financial aid for the regular school year, you may already have what you need. There’s no separate application for summer aid.
However, that doesn’t automatically mean your federal aid can be applied to summer classes. First, you’ll need to find out whether you’ve met your federal student loan limits for the year.
The Department of Education has set strict limitations on the amount students can borrow in federal student loans based on several factors, including dependent status and information included on the FAFSA, year in school, and other financial aid received.
You’ll also need to check with your school, since it may not define the academic year in the same way as the Department of Education. You may need to fill out a new FAFSA depending on which academic year its summer sessions are included in. There are strict FAFSA deadlines you’ll need to meet, so it’s important to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to apply.
Of course, the regular financial aid eligibility requirements apply: You must be enrolled at least half-time and making satisfactory academic progress to qualify.
How to Pay for Summer Classes in 5 Steps
Summer classes are a great way to spread your workload over a longer period of time. But paying for it isn’t always as straightforward as it is for the normal fall or spring semester. Here are five ways to pay for summer classes.
1. Ask Your Financial Aid Office About Summer Financial Aid
If you’re thinking of taking summer classes, set up an appointment with your school’s financial aid office to see what options you have.
They’ll let you know whether the classes you’re interested in are eligible for financial aid. They can also help you calculate how much FAFSA money you have leftover for summer classes.
Low-interest federal loans should always be your go-to loan option if you need to use loans for summer classes. But what if you’ve already reached your federal aid limit? In that case, you’ll have to find another payment option.
2. Look for Summer Grant Programs & Scholarships
There are grants and summer scholarships specifically designed for summer classes. If you don’t have any student aid leftover after the fall and spring semesters, see if your school or state offers a program.
For instance, Pell Grants are based on financial need and can be a good source of funding for summer school. However, you can only receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters.
If you’re already maxed out or need to save your Pell Grants for the fall or spring — and you can’t find additional grant programs for which you may qualify — it’s time to exhaust your other scholarship options.
You may qualify for a scholarship based on your school, major, academic record, or a number of other factors.
3. Apply for Summer Jobs or Paid Internships
It’s tough to maintain a full-time job when you’re attending school full-time. But if you’re just taking a few credits over the summer, it may be possible to cover the expenses with a part-time job.
Summer sessions tend to be less intense than the regular school year, and earning money to pay for your summer courses will help you further your education without taking on more debt. It may even be possible for you to find an on-campus job.
Alternatively, see if you can land an internship that qualifies for school credit. If you can, you’ll gain professional experience and class hours without adding to your tuition costs. And if the internship is paid, you can earn a little extra money in the process.
4. Consider a Private Student Loan
Private student loans should always be your last resort since interest rates aren’t standardized and they come with less favorable repayment plans and borrower protections than federal student loans. But if you’re serious about attending the summer semester and federal loans or grants aren’t an option, they could be a good choice.
Make sure you do your research before taking on private student loan debt. You should obtain quotes from multiple lenders to see which one offers the best student loan rates before finalizing a loan application. You will need a cosigner to qualify for most private loans though there are student loans for those without a cosigner.
Author: Jamie Johnson
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