Back in middle school and high school, summer school probably sounded like punishment. Most students wouldn’t willingly opt to attend summer school, and college may not seem much different. But as you’ve been exploring your different options, you may have started to realize all the benefits that a summer session in college can truly offer.
As you make plans for potentially attending a summer session, be sure to think about the financial pieces.
1. Direct Costs. Don’t assume you can’t afford it. Because summer sessions usually mean shorter schedules and a more limited selection of classes, students often don’t take as many credit hours as they would during a typical semester, so you may find that a summer session doesn’t cost as much as other semesters do. Figure out which classes you’d like to take, and do the math on the cost per credit hour to get a true sense of the cost; don’t just assume it would be the same as what you paid in fall or spring.
2. Financial Benefits. The idea of graduating sooner may be reason enough for you to take classes any chance you get—summer included. But have you thought about all the financial benefits of graduating sooner? By getting that degree sooner, you can begin earning an income faster. Graduating sooner also means you’re less likely to be impacted by tuition increases, and you’re accruing less interest on your student loans.
3. Indirect Costs. Although attending classes during the summer session can be helpful, there are some related costs (beyond tuition) to consider. For one, many college students use the summer to work and make extra cash. Some students depend on this money to help them with their college expenses the rest of the year. Unless you’ve landed a paid internship during the summer, taking on summer courses might mean you have less time to work, and you’ll need to factor this lost income into your budget.
There’s also housing to consider. If you live with family or you rent an apartment with a yearly lease, this might not affect you. But if you moved out of town for college, currently live in a dorm, and were planning on going home during the summer, you might need to find other housing options. Because most college dorms close during the summer, you’ll have to find (and budget for) other housing options. That may not make or break your decision, just make sure you have a plan.
If you’ll need to take out a student loan to cover your summer school costs, you’ll have a couple options: you may be able to take out a federal student loan, or you may want to look at private student loans. Bear in mind that federal student loan eligibility is impacted by the amount you already borrowed to cover the rest of the academic year. If you don’t have federal loan money available, and other aid doesn’t cover the full cost, you may want to consider private loan options like the ones we offer here at College Ave Student Loans.