Does Financial Aid Cover Summer Classes?

by Kristen May ; Updated July 27, 2017

Students who remain on campus during the summer to take additional courses might be able to finish their degrees early or take a lighter course load during the regular school year. However, financial aid options during the summer are usually limited, which means that staying for a summer session can be expensive. The policies vary from one school to another but typically follow a general pattern.


The school's financial aid office typically has a separate application that summer students need to fill out to express their interest in receiving financial aid. In general, students must enroll in their summer classes before filling out the application. In addition to the internal application, most schools also use the student's FAFSA from either the previous school year or the upcoming school year, depending on which school year the summer session is considered to be a part of.

Federal Aid

Pell grants and Stafford loans issued through the federal government can both be applied to summer sessions. Some schools also allow students to tap into a federal work-study award during the summer. However, all types of federal aid used during the summer count toward the annual limits for that type of aid. If the summer session is a part of the previous school year, the student must not have already received the maximum amount of aid to be able to get more. If the summer session is part of the next school year, any federal aid received during the summer will reduce the amount the student can get the next school year.

Institutional Aid

Some colleges and universities offer institutional grants and scholarships to some students who take summer classes. The awards can be based either on financial need or on merit. In some cases, colleges will just reduce the tuition cost of summer classes instead of offering grants and scholarships for the summer session.

Private Student Loans

Students who do not receive enough financial aid to pay for their summer classes can either work a job during the summer to cover the cost or get a private student loan. Most lenders will issue loans up to the amount of the cost of attendance during the summer semester. However, these loans can have high interest rates and the student must eventually repay the loan. In addition, lenders require that the student be creditworthy or have a creditworthy cosigner.