But because she is paying for her education, she also had to work full-time as a camp counselor to earn money for the upcoming school year. By taking an online course, she could work during the day and attend classes at night.
“If I hadn’t taken online classes, I probably wouldn’t have been able to take any classes at all,” Tisdale says.
Summer courses can play a key role in graduating on time or early, and colleges are increasingly trying to make it easier and more affordable for students to take summer courses – with more flexible course offerings and summer-specific funding or discounts.
Tiffany Evans, director of program completion at Utah Valley University, says she tells families during orientation to consider at least one summer term when making financial plans and academics for the university.
“Nationally, we face a challenge with college graduation rates,” she says. “By attending in the summer, students are able to stay on track.”
Here are four ways students can afford to attend summer school.
• Look for summer scholarships and grants: Your school may offer a grant or scholarship specifically to help pay for the summer term, but be sure to check with your financial aid office as this may require a separate application process from the free application federal student aid.
For example, the University of Wisconsin at Madison offers a scholarship for the summer semester, which takes into account student need and merit, but students must submit an application. Tisdale, who received the scholarship, says it was crucial so her summer earnings weren’t eaten up by summer school fees.
Utah Valley University is targeting students who will be graduating the following spring with a Summer Completion Scholarship, a need-based grant designed to help students eligible for the Pell Scholarship graduate on time. Like the UW—Madison grant, it also requires a separate application process.
Blake Snider, assistant dean of undergraduate studies at Clemson University and 2017 president of the North American Summer Session Association, wrote in an email that state-level efforts are also in progress. courses to help students take summer courses. In South Carolina, for example, students can now use lottery-funded scholarships during the summer.
• Check the discounts: Some schools offer reduced rates during the summer. Other expenses – such as parking or room and board – may also be cheaper.
At some public schools, out-of-state students may find that they can get in-state tuition — or with only a slight premium — during the summer. For example, UVU offers in-state classes for overseas students and international students during the summer term, Snider said.
Other schools may offer what’s called a “plateau” during the summer, which means students can take credits beyond a certain level for free, rather than being charged for each.
• Take a course online or at a community college: Like Tisdale, students can also consider taking an online course during the summer, allowing them to work more or save money by living at home.
“What you see is that many universities are offering online summer courses so that (students) can work that summer job and stay on track or progress in their studies,” says Sarah Barber , assistant dean of the summer semester at UW-Madison. “Students can stay in the city of the campus or be in another state to do something.”
• Apply for financial assistance for the summer: Financial aid is available during the summer, including federal work-study funds, but just make sure you know the deadlines and rules that apply. Most institutions require students to complete some type of summer aid application during the spring semester, Snider said. That’s in addition to the FAFSA, he says.
Students often run out of financial aid during the fall and spring semesters, so Snider recommends speaking to the financial aid office as early as possible — even in the fall — if the summer term is in your future.
Financial aid may also be available for incoming students taking summer courses before their freshman year through “early start” or “bridge” programs, Snider said.
“The key to taking advantage of this would be to contact the university’s financial aid office as soon as the student is admitted to the university to inquire about the possibility of using that year’s financial aid. for the summer session,” he said.
Are you trying to finance your studies? Get tips and more at US News’ Paying for College hub.