Want to squeeze in a couple of classes this summer but not sure how to pay for them? You have several options, including federal and private student loans. The summer loan application process is generally the same as it is for the regular academic year. But the federal government limits how much you can borrow, so it’s important to consider your options carefully.
Here’s what you need to know about paying for summer classes.
Costs of Going to School in the Summer
Tuition is one of the biggest costs associated with going to school in the summer. That said, some colleges offer summer courses at a reduced cost, or you may be able to take classes at a community college for a lower price and transfer the credits to your school. If you don’t plan on living at home, you’ll also need to budget for housing, food, transportation, and other personal expenses.
The short-term cost of going to school during the summer may be worth it in the long run, though. Taking extra classes can help you finish your degree — and start drawing income from a full-time job — faster.
Can You Get Financial Aid for Summer Classes?
Just like during the fall or spring terms, financial aid is available during the summer. Let’s take a look at some common types of assistance.
Grants can help offset the cost of summer courses and typically don’t need to be repaid. One popular type of grant is the Pell Grant, which is awarded by the federal government and based on financial need. Qualifying students can receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters, and in certain circumstances, they may be eligible to receive additional funds for the summer semester.
Some schools offer grants to students who are enrolling in summer classes. Contact the financial aid office to see if your school offers this option. Your state may also provide grants to help students cover the cost of summer classes. Visit the website of your state’s department of education to find out if this option is available to you.
Like grants, scholarships usually do not need to be repaid, and in general, you’re free to use the funds for a summer term. There are thousands of available scholarships based on financial need or merit offered by a variety of sources. Searching scholarship databases can help you narrow your options.
Federal Work-Study gives students with financial need part-time employment to help them earn extra money to pay for education expenses. Check with your college’s financial aid office to find out if the school participates in the program.
The loans you apply for, to pay for the regular school year, can also be used to cover summer courses. There are different types of federal student loans to explore: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans.
Once you’ve exhausted federal aid options, you may consider private loans to pay for summer classes. Generally, lenders allow you to borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance.
Other Ways to Cover the Cost of Summer Classes
Whether you’ve exhausted financial assistance or want to earn extra money for school and living expenses, here are two other options to consider.
A paid summer internship doesn’t just potentially provide students with valuable professional experience and important connections. It’s also a chance to draw an income while you’re taking summer classes. To find out about opportunities you may be qualified for, check with your school’s career center.
During the summer, students often have more free time to work more hours and earn more cash to help cover the cost of summer classes. A part-time job usually offers flexible hours to accommodate school. Plus, some students may find a job that’s related to their major or career of choice.
Federal vs Private Student Loans: How They Compare
Federal student loans are funded by the federal government and offer borrowers protections such as deferment, forbearance, and the option to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Most federal student loans do not require a credit check, and interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan. Students must fill out the FAFSA annually and be enrolled at least part-time to qualify for aid.
The federal government limits the amount of money students can borrow per academic year and in total, and this includes any aid you receive for summer classes. The limit is based on your dependency status and how long you’ve been in school. For example, in the 2022-2023 academic year, a first-year dependent undergraduate may qualify for up to $5,500 in student loans, with a limit of $3,500 on what can be subsidized. An independent first-year undergraduate student may qualify for up to $9,500 in student loans, with a limit of $3,500 on what can be subsidized.
Private loans are offered by private lenders, such as banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Interest rates may be fixed or variable and are determined by the lender based on criteria including an applicant’s financial history and credit score. Many lenders require students to be enrolled in school at least part time. Depending on the loan terms, borrowers may be required to make payments while they are enrolled in school, and they may or may not provide a grace period. Private student loans also lack the borrower protections afforded to federal student loans.
Students who take out the maximum amount of federal aid may consider private loans as an option to pay for summer classes. Generally, private lenders allow you to borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance.
When Applications Are Due
FAFSA applications for the following academic year are typically due around the end of June. The application requires borrowers to check the school year in which the funds will be used. If you’re submitting a FAFSA for the summer term, ask your school which year to check on the form and if any other forms are required. The sooner you submit the application, the more likely you are to receive funding, since many sources of aid are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
What You’ll Need to Apply
To help the FAFSA application process go smoothly, it helps to have some information and a few documents on hand. This includes your Social Security number (or Alien Registration number for if you’re an eligible noncitizen); your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of income; bank statements and any record of investments; records of untaxed income, if applicable; and your FSA ID. Dependent students will need most of that information for their parents.
If you’re applying for a private student loan, you’ll apply directly with the lender. Applicants typically need to have a solid credit history, proof of income, be at least 18, and be a U.S. resident. Adding a cosigner to the loan may be an option that can help potential borrowers strengthen their application.
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If you’re considering enrolling in some summer classes, financial aid can help you cover the bill. Grants, scholarships, work-study, internships, and part-time jobs are all options to explore, as are federal and private student loans. There are key differences between the loans that are important to keep in mind. Borrowers applying for federal aid must fill out the FAFSA every year and should check with their school’s financial aid office to find out which year to select on the FAFSA summer application. The federal government limits how much a student can borrow each year and in total. Those amounts are based on a student’s dependency status and academic year.
Students who reached their maximum borrowing limit may explore private student loans, like ones from SoFi. The application process can be completed easily online, and you can see rates and terms in just a few minutes. There are no fees, and borrowers can choose one of four repayment plans, depending on which works best for their needs.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.
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