Does the financial aid cover summer courses? – Councilor Forbes
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For many students, summer is an opportunity to take additional courses to help them graduate earlier. Summer sessions are generally shorter than regular semesters, and since many courses can be taken at a community college, they can often be much cheaper.
It is an increasingly popular strategy. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, students who take summer courses at community colleges are more likely to complete their education.
But how do you pay for this? Here’s what you need to know about summer financial aid options.
Why do students take summer courses
Whether you are planning to take classes at your current university or a nearby community college, summer schooling can be beneficial. You can take back courses you’ve struggled with in the past to improve your grades, eliminate core or elective course requirements, and speed up your degree.
If you graduate early, you can shorten the length of your studies by a semester or even a full academic year. It also helps reduce the amount you will need to spend on tuition, fees, and accommodation and board for each quarter that you have reduced during your studies. And you can start working sooner to earn full time income.
4 types of summer financial aid
Can you get financial aid for summer school? Absolutely. You have several options:
Grants are a great place to start because they are a form of gift aid that often does not need to be repaid. There are several types of grants you may be eligible for:
- Pell grants. Low income students may be eligible for Pell scholarships. Previously, students could not use Federal Pell Grants for summer schooling. However, the government changed this in 2017, giving students access to year-round Pell scholarships to pay for summer sessions. Eligible Pell Grant recipients can obtain up to $ 6,495 for the year of the scholarship.
- State subsidies. Some states have grants to help students pay for their summer schooling. For example, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency allows eligible students to receive a grant from the State of Pennsylvania for the summer term. Visit your national education agency website to find out if your state has a similar program.
- Institutional grants: Your university may have scholarship programs specifically designed to help students pay for summer schooling. For example, the Achieve Summer program at the University of Colorado at Boulder covers up to six credit hours of tuition and fees for eligible students. Contact your school’s financial aid office to find out what programs are available.
As another form of gift aid, scholarships are also a good way to cut costs on your summer term. Scholarships can come from schools, non-profit organizations, and for-profit businesses. Generally, there are no restrictions on how long students can use the scholarship, so you can apply for scholarships and use the scholarships to pay for your summer courses.
3. Student loans
While there are no federal or private student loans specifically for summer school, you can still take out student loans to pay off your credits. The same loans that you apply for to pay for your fall and spring semesters can also be used for summer courses.
With federal student loans, interest rates tend to be lower and there are more flexible repayment options than private loans, so they should be a first choice.
However, federal student loans have limits on how much you can borrow each year, and money used for summer sessions counts against that limit. There is also an overall limit on the total amount you can borrow for your studies:
- Subsidized and unsubsidized undergraduate loans. Depending on your dependent status and the year of your studies, federal loan limits for undergraduate students range from $ 5,500 to $ 12,500 per year. This limit applies to all loans you take out for the year, including the fall, spring and summer sessions. The overall limit for undergraduates is $ 57,500. No more than $ 23,000 can be subsidized loans.
- Unsubsidized loans for graduates. If you take out direct unsubsidized loans, the maximum you can borrow is $ 20,500 per year. The overall limit is $ 138,500, including all loans used for undergraduate studies. No more than $ 65,500 of this amount can be subsidized loans.
- PLUS graduate loans. If you take out Grad PLUS loans, you can borrow up to the full cost of the participation.
Unlike federal loans, private lenders generally don’t put a cap on the amount you can borrow. You can usually withdraw enough to cover the full cost of participating in your program.
While federal student loans always have fixed interest rates, private student loans can have either fixed or variable interest rates. Repayment plans may also vary. Private loan terms can range from five to 15 years, so you can choose the length of time that best suits your budget.
If your college participates in the federal work-study program, there may be opportunities for summer assistance.
If you are eligible for the federal work-study program, you will work part-time in a field related to your specialty. Although the salary may vary depending on the type of work you do and the employer, you will earn at least the federal minimum wage. The money you earn can be used to offset your summer school fees and reduce the need for student loans.
Apply for financial assistance for summer courses
To obtain financial assistance for the summer term, follow these three steps:
1. Contact your school’s financial aid office
Once you decide to take summer school, contact your college’s financial aid office and inquire about potential financial aid opportunities. Your school may offer grants, scholarships, and work-study programs, so you won’t have to borrow that much money. The financial aid office can tell you what help is available and what forms you need to complete an application.
2. Fill out the FAFSA
The Free Federal Student Aid App (FAFSA) is what schools and the federal government use to determine your eligibility for federal student grants and loans.
The FAFSA qualifies you for assistance that will help you cover summer school. It is important to complete an application as soon as possible to ensure that you receive all the financial assistance you are entitled to.
When completing the FAFSA, you must select the academic year for which you are applying for financial aid. For example, if you are requesting aid for the 2020-2021 academic year, you select “2020-2021”.
However, FAFSA summer aid applications are a gray area, and schools have varying rules on the school year they belong to for financial aid purposes. Before submitting the FAFSA, contact your college financial aid office to see which FAFSA year you should select.
3. Look for opportunities for external financial assistance
If you have exhausted all available institutional and federal financial aid options, you may be eligible for external opportunities, such as private grants and student loans.