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Does Financial Aid Cover Summer Classes?

Summer classes are a great way to finish your degree early or catch up on credits. If you use financial aid or loans to pay for school, you may be wondering if financial aid covers summer classes. In most cases, financial aid does cover summer classes, but it’s important to be sure. Continue reading to learn if financial aid covers the summer courses you’re considering!

Related: Top 12 financial aid questions you should be asking

Contact financial aid office

Each school handles financial aid for summer classes differently. Some schools even offer financial aid specifically for summer classes. Ask your school’s financial aid office about any grants, scholarships, or work-study programs that you can use to fund your summer classes. Aid of this kind can help you avoid taking out loans.

The financial aid office can also provide information about the cost of summer classes and how to apply for aid. Schools may have specific requirements regarding credit hours and academic standing. Be sure to contact the financial aid office and gather this information with ample time before any application deadlines, which are usually in the spring.

Federal student loans for summer

You can use federal student loans to pay for summer classes. However, federal student loans have borrowing limits for every academic year. Loans used for summer classes will count toward that limit. Borrowers must have not already taken out the maximum amount for their academic year. For example, second-year undergraduate students cannot borrow more than $6,500 in federal loans annually. If you’ve already borrowed the maximum amount, you can pay off some of your debt to be eligible to borrow up to the limit again. 

Additionally, you must maintain part-time enrollment to be eligible for these loans. The definition of part-time status can depend on the school. Some schools consider 3 credit hours (typically one college course) to be part-time for summer, others may require 6 hours (typically two college classes).

Borrowers can apply for federal student loans for summer by completing the FAFSA. Your school’s financial aid office will tell you which year’s FAFSA to use. If you already have a FAFSA from the previous fall or spring, you may not need a new one for summer. 

See also: FAFSA 101 guide

Private student loans for summer

Private student loans can also be used to pay for summer classes. Most private lenders do not have a limit to how much can be borrowed. Private loans can be used to cover the total cost of attendance. Be sure to check with the lender to guarantee that loans can be used for summer classes.

Other financial aid

If you’ve already borrowed the maximum amount of federal loans, or if you want to avoid going into debt, there are other ways to fund summer classes.

Many scholarships and grants are offered year-round and don’t have limits on the semester they apply to. If you’ve already been awarded a scholarship or grant, ask if you can use it for your summer semester. Or, start searching and applying for scholarships now! 

High school students taking summer courses read this first!

Students sometimes take classes dependent upon financial aid the summer between high school and college. We typically discourage this (unless it’s some special program through their college). Here’s why:

1. There is no “free” aid: For most financial aid programs, a student must be enrolled the previous fall or spring semesters to use aid in the summer

2. Doing so messes up admissions status: Most students think they’ll take a class or two in the summer at the local college then in the fall go off to their main college. By taking the summer classes, they’re no longer considered an entering freshman and may have to go through the admissions process again as a transfer student

Use financial aid for summer classes

In most cases, financial aid does cover summer classes (remember, do your research if you are a high school student!). Using financial aid to help you get ahead or catch up on your classes over the summer might be right for you! 

Keep reading: Complete guide to how to graduate college early