College  |  March 29, 2022  |  Kayla White

Does Financial Aid Cover Summer Classes?

What you'll learn
  • What financial aid is available for summer classes
  • How to apply for summer financial aid
  • Other ways to pay for summer classes

Summer classes are a way to get ahead or catch up with college credits, but does financial aid cover summer classes?

Why Should You Consider Summer Classes?

Want to take a lighter load the next year? Maybe even graduate early? Then perhaps you’ve started to consider taking a few courses over break. However, if you’re like most students, the number one question in your head may be: does financial aid cover summer classes? The easy answer is yes…but it’s a bit different than receiving aid throughout the regular academic year. 

So, you’ve decided summer classes are perfect for you, great! Luckily both the federal government and universities provide financial aid for summer classes. How does summer financial aid work? If you’ve filled out a the FAFSA® for the school year, this information will be used see if you qualify for any federal summer aid. If you haven’t filled out the FAFSA®, do this pronto! The earlier you apply, the more aid will be available to you. Although the FAFSA® opens October 1st, financial aid is offered on a rolling basis.  

How do you apply for aid? The best way to take advantage of all your school’s resources is to contact your financial aid department. You may receive additional paperwork to help your school maximize your aid package. There may be credit limits, ineligible courses, or other barriers which may halt your access to aid. Be sure to speak with both an academic and financial counselor to ensure you’re on the right path!

What Financial Aid is Available for Summer Classes

If you qualify, your federal financial package, which you get by submitting the FAFSA®, may include grants and work study. These types of aid do not need to be paid back. However, summer classes are considered “optional” by many schools, so receiving this type of aid will be limited. Make sure you apply early to ensure you are considered for the most money possible. 

Want to know one of the most underrated gems for getting help paying for college? Scholarships! An estimated $100 million goes unclaimed every year. Why? Too often, students believe they have to have perfect grades or be stellar athletes to qualify. If you fit into this bracket, nice! But if you’re like most of us, there’s free money out there for whatever your niche! Are you a tall? Vegetarian? Or maybe horseback riding is your passion! Whatever the case, scholarships offer some of the best options for summer funding. The best time to start your search may be in the spring semester—but deadlines can extend well into the summer months. It may be more work to find these scholarships, so you’ll want to act fast! Where should you start looking? A scholarship search tool is the perfect way to refine your search. Your school may even offer some university scholarships, especially if you’re considering a summer study abroad program. Be sure to check out the financial aid office to see what your school offers.

Understanding Loan Options

Another form of aid you may receive is federal loans. Subsidized loans are federal loans that do not require an interest payment. This means if you borrow $2,000, the federal government will pay your interest up to 6 months after you stop attending school. Unsubsidized loans are federal loans that will have interest. If you borrowed that same $2,000, by the time you graduate, this would be your principal amount and you would be responsible for paying back any interest.

Alternative Ways to Pay for Summer Classes

Federal and university funding may be limited during the summer. How should you pay for summer classes if you don’t receive enough funding? Consider taking courses at discounted prices. Be sure to check that your specific course can transfer to your school. 

Summer course loads tend to lighter than during the academic year. If you’re short on funds, consider finding a part-time summer job. The best time to find seasonal work may be in the late spring, early summer months. If you’re looking for a spring internship, these may start recruiting as early as the fall before. Contact your career services department to see how you can maximize summer earnings.  

Whether you use federal grants, scholarships, loans, or decide to work, funding summer classes may seem like a daunting task, but you don’t have to do this alone. Your school provides many resources to help keep you on track. Communicate your interest to your academic, career, and (most importantly) financial aid counselors so they can help you achieve your goals. And the best part about summer classes? They tend to be much shorter than academic semesters. So once your funding is secured, be sure to schedule some time for summer fun!


Sallie Mae does not provide financial, tax, or legal advice and the information contained in this article does not constitute tax, legal, or financial advice. Sallie Mae does not make any claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this article. Readers should consult their own attorneys or other tax advisors regarding any financial strategies mentioned in this article. These materials are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Sallie Mae. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.