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Paying for summer term no pool party, but financial aid may keep students afloat

By Allie Shultz
On February 21, 2014

As spring approaches and summer course registration opens, many students are beginning to make their summer plans. For some, this includes taking extra courses to supplement their academic work during the school year. In doing this, students may face extra costs, raising questions about the possibility of financial aid.

Brent Shock, director of student financial assistance, said students must consider their own individual circumstances when considering summer courses, which begin May 20. Summer classes may help speed up the time it takes to get a degree, but the cost could deter some students.

"I say between a combo of winter term and summer term and with the right academic advising, they can meet with them and figure out if summer is going to benefit them." Shock said. "There is additional cost but it's not a bad investment if it works out for you."

David Creamer, vice president of financial and business services, agrees with Shock that each student has different needs that they must consider before choosing to attend summer classes.

"Each student has to really look at their priorities, because oftentimes a few more dollars, if you're able to do it, might save someone an entire semester," Creamer said. "Under that circumstance the savings may far outweigh the cost."

Both Creamer and Shock emphasized that students must consider their goals after graduation when considering how they want to complete their courses. The ability to begin graduate school or a professional career earlier can be part of the appeal of summer classes.

"Each student had to examine what their goals are...and try to find the best path that will work for them," Creamer said.

Shock said finding financial aid in the summer can actually be fairly easy for any student who has already filled out the FAFSA form, which each student fills out for federal financial aid.

"There's actually no application that they have to complete, we automatically review everybody who is a federal financial aid recipient," Shock said.

However, according to Miami's summer term website, summer federal financial aid may only be available to students who have remaining aid left over from the previous semesters of that academic year. Several other specifications may also apply.

"Generally, students are only eligible for additional federal student loan funds if they have the number of hours required to advance in grade level by the end of the spring semester," the website reads. "Students cannot use their Miami scholarships for summer session(s) unless the scholarship was awarded specifically for summer study. If all federal student loan eligibility has been exhausted, the student may want to consider a Federal Direct PLUS loan or a private loan."

Reviewing for summer financial aid will begin soon, and students will be notified in April whether they are eligible to receive financial aid.

One thing Shock also urged students to keep in mind is summer courses are paid for per credit, unlike the semester courses, which are paid for per semester. For in-state students, each credit hour costs $525; for out-of-state students, $1194.

"There could be a case where a student only needs six hours, so the summer could work, and it's probably going to be better to do that," Shock said.

Both Shock and Creamer agree that meeting with a financial aid adviser is best for any student considering summer courses. Financial aid advisers can often point out unknown scholarships and helpful tips for any student in need of monetary assistance.

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