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    Does Financial Aid Cover Summer Classes?

    By Kayla Korzekwinski

    Kayla Korzekwinski is a Scholarships360 content writer. She earned her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied Advertising/PR, Rhetorical Communication, and Anthropology. Kayla has worked on communications for non-profits and student organizations. She loves to write and come up with new ways to express ideas.

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    Reviewed by Annie Trout

    Annie has spent the past 18+ years educating students about college admissions opportunities and coaching them through building a financial aid package. She has worked in college access and college admissions for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission/Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation, Middle Tennessee State University, and Austin Peay State University.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: October 24th, 2023
    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 the 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.

    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

    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. Don’t forget to apply for all the scholarships you qualify for while you are eligible! 

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    Final thoughts

    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

    Frequently asked questions about financial aid and summer classes

    Which FAFSA covers summer classes?

    It depends on when summer term starts and which specific dates you take classes. The Federal Student Aid website states that the school year runs from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.

    How many semesters does FAFSA cover?

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that must be filled out every year to determine a student’s eligibility for various forms of financial aid. This includes federal student loans, work study, and Pell Grants that are administered by the college attended. Pell Grant eligibility is limited to 12 terms, or six years.

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