Seriously? Go to College during the Summer after all the hard work I have done for the past year? You have got to be kidding me… Yes, that would be an expected reply; after all, who wouldn’t want some time off? A SMART college student would take a second look at this as, quite possibly, going to summer school could be one of the smartest and shrewdest moves you could make.
Many college students do not realize that at a number of campuses, summer college classes are not only shorter in duration, but are also offered at half the cost for the SAME number of credit hours. YES, that is right, generally summer classes are half the college tuition cost of regular school sessions. Most students are so anxious to start summer they do not take the time to discover just how valuable this college strategy can be to them and their financial well-being.
Federal Direct Subsidized & Unsubsidized Loans for Summer are available for students who have not already used their full eligibility for the current academic year and are enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours for the corresponding summer. The KEY here is to apply specifically for a Summer Direct Student Loan. Also, make sure you know what the differences are between the Federal Direct Stafford loans: subsidized and unsubsidized.
Subsidized Stafford Loan
Subsidized Stafford loans are for Undergraduate students only and are need-based, meaning they’re reserved for students who have demonstrated financial need on the FAFSA. The lower the FEC score, the higher your eligibility. The government pays the interest on a subsidized Direct Stafford loan as long as you’re enrolled at least half time and during periods of deferment when you go to graduate school or return for additional schooling. After you have completed school, the interest is your responsibility.
Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
Unsubsidized Stafford loans are not need-based, which means it is available to all eligible students regardless of how much financial information you report on your FAFSA. The major difference here is that you’re responsible for the interest on an unsubsidized Direct Stafford loan as soon as your school receives the money. You can however, choose to defer interest payments until you drop below half time status or complete school.
Prior to applying for any Federal Direct Student Loans, be absolutely sure that you have already submitted your FAFSA, the free Application for Federal Student Aid. To qualify for financial aid, students and their parents are required to complete and fill out the FAFSA by June 30th of every year. It is imperative to even be considered for the Summer Federal Direct Loans.
Additional Free Summer College Funding
Additionally, check with your particular school to see what they offer. Many schools have special Summer Grant and Scholarship programs in addition to the Federal programs. Do not overlook this option.
Additional Free Summer College Funding
Above all, keep in mind that College is BIG Business and beware of the many advertising and marketing ploys to get you to take out student loans for the summer. Don’t fall for the dangers of private loans, loans from a bank, non-profit organization or Sallie Mae, when Federal Student Loans are available. Keep in mind that over 50% of private student loan borrowers never exhaust their federal loan options, and most do not even attempt to apply or look into federal loans at all.
Private student loans offer fewer protections and options to you as a student. The interest rates are usually higher and can be variable, which means they can go up. Many borrowers greatly underestimate just how quickly this can happen regardless of the Federal Funds Rate or any other benchmark Interest rate. Upon graduation, if you can’t find a job or your job falls short in the income stream that you need, private lenders usually refuse to adjust your payments to help your current financial situation. With federal student loans, you can typically change your payment plan so it takes into account your financial situation and in many cases defer your student loans so you can avoid default.
Also keep in mind that when applying to your school for your Summer Loan the earlier you apply the better off you will be. Be sure and check with your school on ALL critical dates as the Summer School Semester is on a drastically shortened time schedule and there is generally a limited amount of funds available to the school for this shortened semester. While the FAFSA is not officially due until June 30th from the federal requirement, it is beneficial that you submit the FAFSA no later than May 30th and, if at all possible, try to get the FAFSA in by May 1.
Whether you decide to take summer college classes or not, weigh all of your options carefully and in the end, do what supports you in all aspects of your life with the least amount of student debt being taken on.