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Ways to Pay for Summer College Courses

written by: Mihir Shah•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 6/25/2010

Funding summer college courses may be difficult; however, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid provides students with the opportunity to earn grants and loans to pay off their summer fees. Other ways to pay for summer college courses include scholarships through

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    Paying Your Summer College Course Fees

    Many students often find themselves grappling with this common question: how am I going to find ways to pay for summer college courses? Rest assured, there are a number of options, depending on family income, that can apply to the individual applicant. For those that are above the maximum threshold of $60,000, best options are low-interest loans. On the other end of the spectrum, there are grants. Ultimately, third-party representatives will be examining your resume for merit and need. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid and Fastweb are two of the more popular options to pay your college courses.

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    Financial Aid

    There are numerous ways to pay for summer college courses, the most popular of them being financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA, is an excellent way to pay off your summer college courses, either through low-interest loans or grants. Generally, summer college courses tend to be pricier than during the regular year and must be paid by the unit. At the University of California, San Diego, for example, summer courses are listed at $229/unit for undergraduates and $286/unit for graduate students. For a four-unit class, this amount to $916/class for undergraduates and $1144/class for graduate students. Now, taking even two classes for the summer will easily push the amount to nearly $2,000 and beyond.

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    There are two types of grants generally available during the summer session: Federal Pell Grant and University Grant. In order to be eligible to receive these grants, one of the main criteria is to meet the financial aid eligibility of combined family income. Essentially, the family income must be $60,000 or less to be considered for financial aid. Grants are one of the best ways to pay for summer college courses because it is free money, and generally covers a good chunk of your total fees.

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    Often times, a student receives financial aid through FAFSA, but is not given sufficient grants to cover the entire cost of the summer college courses. In this case, a student will turn to loans, such as the Federal Perkins loan or the Federal Direct PLUS loans for dependent students. While this is not free money, it is the second-best option because of the reasonable interest rates offered.

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    Minimum Units Requirement to Receive Financial Aid

    Prospective summer-session students must realize that even if they received financial-aid during the school year, they may not receive aid during the summer. This is due to a minimum unit requirement during the summer. For some schools, such as the University of California, Riverside, undergraduates are required to enroll in a minimum of twelve units to be eligible to receive financial aid. At the University of California, San Diego, you have to be enrolled in eight units over both summer sessions to receive financial aid. The catch here is that if you drop below the minimum unit requirement, your financial aid can be subject to cancellation and the amount of the aid will be assessed as a fee to your student account.

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    Fastweb is another prime source for scholarships during the summer. There are a myriad of scholarship opportunities and there is a high probability that a particular opportunity will cater to your specific strengths. The scholarships often require writing essays and maintaining a high grade point average.

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    Bottom Line for College Fees

    The key to finding ways to pay for college courses is to essentially do the research. It is imperative to speak to a financial aid counselor prior to committing to any of these processes. The bottom line is for the student to excel academically such that the University is forced to give him scholarships or grants for the summer session fees. Assistance programs such as FAFSA, Fastweb, private loans, University grants are always there--it is a matter of inquiring into the availability of each.

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