The month of June signals the end of the term for many college students, and the beginning of the all-to-brief summer vacation before returning to school in the fall. Most students say good riddance to their textbooks and hello to lucrative summer jobs, days at the beach, and avoidance of anything remotely similar to studying.
While this is a normal phase in most students’ semester cycle, an increasingly higher number of wise students are deciding to sacrifice a little freedom (and a little extra spending money) to get ahead on their degree programs while taking advantage of available scholarships, grants, or federal loans.
Summer semesters aren’t offered at every university or community college, but are becoming more common. Not only is this a means of finishing college sooner and getting a head start in the competitive job market, it’s a step that can potentially save thousands of dollars.
Reason #1: Summer Classes Are Often Cheaper
If you’re looking to get the most out of your financial aid, summer classes are often as much as half the price of regular semester classes.
Depending on how much loan or grant funding you have for the entire school term, you can plan ahead to reduce your class load during regular terms so you can include cheaper summer classes and essentially earn more credits for the same price.
Just as tuition is usually cheaper in the summer, so are textbooks. Every student knows how painful it can be to fork over money for books that will only get used once and be sold for half the price. Buying used or borrowing textbooks is still a good idea to save even more money.
Reason #2: Reduction in the Cost of Your Degree
Completing your degree faster means fewer housing costs, tuition-related fees, and other college-life expenses. By working through the summer, you’ll take anywhere from one term to a full year off your expected graduation date.
In addition to a lower tuition total, you’ll gain more time to focus on building your career, which translates into a faster payoff of your student loans.
Reason #3: Finance Summer Classes With a Student Loan
Speaking of student loans, they’re one way to finance your summer classes — that is, if you have funds leftover from the fiscal year. It’s common for financial aid packages to exceed the actual cost of tuition and other college expenses.
Instead of taking the refund and spending it on vaguely-related college expenses (housing, transportation, a new computer), why not apply it toward summer classes and use it in the way it was intended? Of course, if you have the opportunity to utilize grants and scholarship funds that cover summer semesters, do so!
Many state scholarships are awarded all year round, while grant money is awarded on a yearly basis like student loans. If you haven’t maxed out your funding, you can still utilize these resources for summer courses — free money is always better than loans.
If you’re interested in learning more about your available funding, visit your FAFSA account or university’s financial aid portal, and to find out how you can plan summer courses into your award package, speak with a financial adviser at your college right away.
Forget summer break — an extra year of savings and freedom could be waiting for you!
Students; are you thinking of taking summer classes? What are some other ways to save money on a college degree?