Squeezing in a class or two over the summer can be a great way to advance your education, and make room in your schedule when you go back. Maybe you want to participate in a study-abroad program that doesn’t specifically offer classes for your major.
Or you may be trying to get ahead on some prerequisite classes so you can graduate early. You’ve taken the steps of applying and enrolling in your summer classes. Next on your to-do list: Figuring out how to pay for summer classes. You may be wondering “Can you get a student loan for summer classes?” The short answer is yes.
There are neither federal nor private student loans available specifically for summer classes. The loans you would apply for are the same ones you’d apply for if you wanted to secure loans for the academic year.
Federal Student Loans
Federal lending limits apply to both loans you take out for summer classes and to cover the academic year. So, if you’ve already taken out federal student loans to cover the cost of tuition during the year, you may need to check to make sure you haven’t met the lending limit for student loans. The annual federal lending limit changes based on your academic year and your dependency status .
Per the links above, as a first-year undergrad for the 2018 to 2019 academic year, dependent students may qualify for up to $5,500 in student loans, with a limit of $3,500 on what can be subsidized.
Independent undergraduate students may qualify for up to $9,500 in student loans, with a limit of $3,500 on what can be subsidized.
Federal lending limits typically increase incrementally the longer you are in school—as long as you’re enrolled at least half-time. As a graduate or professional student, you could qualify for up to $20,500 of unsubsidized loans. If you haven’t reached the maximum amount for federal student loans , you could apply for one to cover your summer class.
To apply for any federal student loan , you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSAⓇ. The FAFSA typically lasts for an entire academic year—and each year you’ll have to update your information.
Since summer classes are likely to occur during or after July, you may need to fill out the FAFSA for the following academic year. However, this isn’t always the case. To be sure you’ve already filled out the FAFSA for the correct year, contact your school’s financial aid office.
They might be able to tell you which year you need to fill out FAFSA for and when the priority filing deadline for the summer session is. The sooner you complete the FAFSA, the more likely you are to receive funding since many sources of aid are offered on a first-come, first served basis.
When you speak with the financial aid office at your school, you may wish to check in and find out if there are any additional requirements for receiving aid for summer classes. Some schools may require you to submit other applications or documentation in addition to the FAFSA.
Some schools also require you to take a minimum number of credits to qualify for federal aid during the summer session. If that’s the case and you don’t meet the minimum number of credits, you may not qualify for federal student loans.
Private Student Loans
If you’ve already maxed out your federal student loan, another option available to you might be private student loans. Private lenders may allow you to borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance .
You can apply for private student loans at local and national banks, online lenders, and credit unions. Interest rates for private loans vary by lender and are based on your financial qualifications. Many lenders offer variable interest rates on private student loans, which means they can fluctuate with the ups and downs of financial indices.
In order to secure a private student loan, you typically need to have a solid credit history, proof of income, be at least 18, and be a U.S. resident. If you don’t have a strong credit history or can’t show proof of income, one option available to you might be to borrow with a cosigner.
If you plan on borrowing private student loans, take the time to comparison shop and do your research on private lenders so you can determine which lender will offer you the best deal. Be sure to look at a lender’s student loan repayment plan before you sign on the dotted line.
Paying for Summer Classes Without Taking Out Loans
If you want or need to take a summer class but are hoping to avoid taking out additional loans, consider applying for a grant or scholarship—which typically won’t need to be repaid.
Pell Grants are awarded by the federal government and based on financial need. If they qualify, students can receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters. In certain circumstances, students may be eligible to receive up to an additional $1,000 for the summer semester.
Some schools offer grants or scholarships to students who are enrolling in summer classes at their university. To see if your school offers this option, contact your student aid office. Other schools have discounted rates during the summer session, which can make taking summer classes a more affordable option.
Consider Student Loan Refinancing After Graduation
Fast forward a couple years. You’ve graduated from college—you’ve started out in your career and your years of dedication and hard work in academics have finally paid off. But you’re still going to be paying off your student loans. It may be time to consider refinancing your student loans.
When you refinance your student loans, you take out a brand new loan with a new interest rate, monthly payment, and term. Depending on your credit history and earning potential, among other factors, you could qualify to substantially lower your interest rate.
If you took out private student loans to pay for a few summer classes, you may be in a much better financial position now that you have graduated and are actively working. With a lower interest rate, depending on the term, you could spend less money in interest over the life of the loan.
You’re typically able to determine your term length when you refinance, too. You could extend the life of your loan to have lower monthly payments, but that may mean you pay more in interest over the life of the loan.
And if you have multiple student loans with a variety of lenders, when you refinance all your loans into a single loan, you’ll only have one monthly payment which could make your payments easier to manage.
At SoFi, you can combine both federal and private student loans. However, know that if you refinance federal loans, you will lose access to federal borrower protections, such as income-driven repayment plans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
When you refinance with SoFi, there are no prepayment penalties or origination fees. And as a SoFi member, you’ll have access to benefits like career counseling and Unemployment Protection. Ready to see how much you could save when you refinance? Take a look at the SoFi student loan refinancing calculator.
Whether you need help paying for school or help paying off the loans you already have, SoFi offers competitive interest rates and great member benefits as well.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.