Getting Federal Financial Aid for Summer Courses Can Be Tricky

FAFSA can often help cover tuition, but that's often just for fall and spring semester courses. Does FAFSA cover summer classes?

Ade Hennis - Author

Mar. 25 2022, Published 7:35 a.m. ET

A summer student relaxing on the grass
Source: Pixabay

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) has helped millions of students pay for their tuition. Most students attend school just in the fall and spring semesters, but some take summer courses to get ahead, boost their GPA, or because they had to retake a course. Does FAFSA cover the cost of summer classes?

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Summer courses are becoming popular among college students. Taking courses then can save you money, as you could finish your degree earlier.

Does FAFSA cover summer courses?

When students apply for federal aid, it’s typically for the entire school year, which also includes the summer. However, in some cases, you may not get FAFSA for a summer semester.

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Source: FAFSA Twitter

That may be because you've exhausted your financial aid in the fall and spring semesters, and there's nothing left for the summer. Or you may not be registered for enough credit hours to be eligible for federal aid during the summer.

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Often, being eligible for federal aid for the summer depends on your school. Check the number of credit hours needed to qualify for FAFSA at your school, and check how the semesters are organized—some schools don’t count the summer semester in the same school year as the previous spring semester, and count it with the following fall semester instead.

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What to consider if you need FAFSA for the summer semester

The minimum GPA required to keep federal financial aid throughout the school is 2.0. If you fall below that minimum in the spring semester, your financial aid could be suspended, making you ineligible for financial aid for the summer and future semesters. Students can appeal these suspensions and consult their school’s financial aid office to find solutions to the suspension.

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In some cases, you may not be eligible to receive financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, or loans, but you may be able to receive it in the form of a federal work-study program. In such programs, you work for your school and are paid a certain amount per semester.

What are some alternatives if FAFSA won’t cover summer courses?

If you can't get FAFSA for the summer semester, consult your school’s financial aid office to see if you’re eligible for any school scholarships and other types of aid. There are also private lenders that can provide student loans for courses during that period.


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