College students can rest assured that financial aid is, in fact, available for the summer semester. However, the process of acquiring financial aid for the summer might differ from that of acquiring financial aid for the fall and spring semesters.
Aside from federal financial aid, other viable options for financing the summer semester include scholarships and federal work-study. Above all, make sure you check with your financial aid office and plan ahead to ensure you’ll be able to afford the summer semester.
How to Receive Financial Aid for the Summer Semester
Start by making sure you’ve filled out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and that your information is up-to-date. Then, talk to your financial aid advisor or look on your university’s website for additional information. Each college is different when it comes to applying for and receiving financial aid for the summer. Because many schools divide their semesters differently, make sure you’ve filled out your FAFSA® for the correct academic year. In addition, you might need to fill out special forms or submit requests to your school.
Your federal financial aid is typically calculated on a yearly basis. If you’ve completed two semesters, you might have already used your available financial aid. In particular, Pell Grants are awarded only twice per year. However, it’s always worth talking to your financial aid advisor and applying for any possible aid.
Explore Other Financial Aid Options
Countless scholarships are available from a wide range of organizations and foundations. Each has its own application parameters and deadlines. As there is no uniform mandatory filing date, you can potentially earn scholarships throughout the school year. Check scholarship search websites and university lists regularly to find newly available scholarships. As always, make sure to submit your application by the date listed in the scholarship information.
Federal Work-Study and Summer Jobs
Federal work-study helps college students in need find part-time jobs that can help pay for their college education. Often, these jobs will be community-centered and related to students’ course of study. While some jobs (such as those on campus) might only be available during the spring and summer semesters, most work-study jobs are year-round, which means you’ll be able to work through the summer and continue to pay off your student debt. Alternatively, you can find a part-time summer job on your own. Just be sure to consider how you will balance your classes and coursework with your summer employment or work-study program. This is especially important considering that most schools’ summer semesters are half the length of their spring and fall semesters — which means double the workload per course.
As with all financial concerns related to attending college, it’s imperative to plan ahead as you consider how to finance your summer semester. Write down important dates (such as financial aid deadlines and award disbursements), and keep a record of all your applications. Your college’s financial aid advisor will be able to provide additional information that relates to your specific situation.