Does FAFSA Cover Summer Classes?February 1, 2022
Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be time-consuming, so most students would prefer to do it as infrequently as possible. If you’re considering summer classes this year, you might be wondering:
- How to get financial aid for summer classes
- Does FAFSA cover summer classes?
- Will you have to complete the FAFSA all over again to qualify for financial aid?
We’ll answer those questions below and explore some alternative funding options for those who need more money to pay for summer tuition.
Does Financial Aid Cover Summer Classes?
You should fill out the FAFSA to see if you are eligible for financial aid. This includes federal student loans, work-study positions, and both federal and state-based grants. In general, these funds can be used to pay for fall and spring semester classes as well as summer classes.
Unique rules exist for using financial aid for summer classes. For example, work-study may only be an option if your college provides work-study slots during the summer. Some colleges only offer work-study positions during the fall and spring semesters.
Keep in mind that the federal government has annual limits for student loans. If you’ve already used the annual limit to pay for fall and spring semester expenses, then you won’t be able to get financial aid for summer classes. If you have leftover funds, then you’ll likely be able to use that money to cover summer courses.
Whether or not you’ve reached the annual limit depends on which FAFSA form your college financial aid department is using to determine aid for summer courses. Contact the financial aid department and ask if they’ll use the FAFSA for the previous academic year or for the upcoming academic year. If they use your previous FAFSA, then you may have reached the annual limit for federal student loans.
However, if the college will use next year’s financial aid to cover summer classes, then you may have enough to pay for summer tuition. Just make sure that you’ll still have enough to pay for fall and spring semester courses.
Also, you need to be enrolled at least part time to be eligible for federal student loans. The definition of a part-time student may vary, but it usually means at least six credit hours. If you’re only taking one summer course, you won’t be able to use federal student loans to pay for it.
If you received a Federal Pell Grant during the regular academic year, you may also qualify for a Pell Grant for summer classes. The annual amount you receive for summer courses depends on your family’s financial situation.
Contact your college’s financial aid department and ask about your options. They can guide you through the process and explain what you may qualify for.
Alternative Ways to Pay for Summer Classes
If you’ve already maxed out your financial aid, don’t worry. There are other avenues to pay for summer courses.
Apply for Scholarships
If you need money for summer college courses, apply for scholarships to cover the cost. Start with your university; they may even have specific awards just for the summer semester. Ask your department advisor if there are any eligible awards and how to apply.
Once you’ve applied for all internal scholarships, look at popular sites like Bold.org and Scholarships.com. Search for scholarships that are specific to your major and interests. For example, if you’re an international studies major, look for scholarships geared toward students pursuing a career in international affairs.
Take Cheaper College Courses
If your college charges high rates for classes, you may be able to find less expensive options elsewhere. For example, if you attend an out-of-state public university, look for summer classes at a local in-state college. You’ll have to apply for that university and submit your transcript, but you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Before you enroll, confirm that the course will transfer over and count toward your degree requirements. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money to pay for a class that won’t count.
Get a Job
Depending on how much money you need, a summer job can supplement your financial aid to cover summer classes. Start looking for a job before the summer starts. Talk to adults you know like professors, resident advisors, teaching assistants, and academic advisors and ask if they have any suggestions. They may know of an administrator who’s looking for a house sitter or a dorm building that needs a part-time receptionist.
If you have friends that are also staying in town, ask them if they know of anyone hiring. Keep your eyes peeled around campus – you may be surprised at how many businesses still post physical job ads.
Your college may also have an online job bulletin where companies post openings. Many retailers and restaurants are having trouble finding employees right now, so it may be easier than you think to land a gig.
Take Out Private Student Loans
If you’ve maxed out your financial aid for summer classes, taking out a private student loan may be your next best option. Private student loans can provide money quickly, usually within a couple of weeks.
Unlike federal student loans, private loans will usually require a credit check and income verification. If you don’t have a strong credit history and a decent income, you’ll likely need to add a cosigner. A cosigner is an adult who will agree to take over payments if you default on the loan. Most students ask a parent, other relatives, or another adult to act as a cosigner.
ELFI offers private student loans for both undergraduates and graduate students with five, seven, 10, and 15-year terms.* ELFI does not charge any application, origination, or prepayment fees. The minimum amount for an ELFI undergraduate or graduate student loan is $1,000, and the maximum amount is the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid.
To learn more about ELFI and determine what interest rates may be available to you, check out our Student Loan Calculator.*