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Does FAFSA® cover summer classes?

Published June 10, 2024| minute read
Dhara Singh

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Your college years can offer you the potential to meet new friends, expand your knowledge, explore your academic passions, and start preparing for a career. However, besides the potential fun and joy of the experience, you may have to take care of some logistical tasks, such as navigating paying for college.

    While you may feel well versed in the fact that the federal government and other institutions may potentially offer you aid during the regular academic year if you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) and you’re eligible for aid, you may find yourself wanting to take summer classes and wondering if you can secure aid via the FAFSA®, if you’re eligible, to help cover those classes.

    In short, if you’re eligible for aid via the FAFSA®, you might be able to use it to cover summer classes. That said, it’s important to understand the unique requirements of securing financial aid for summer classes.

    Keep reading for more information about securing financial aid for summer courses during college.

    Refresher: What’s the FAFSA®?

    FAFSA® stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is the online or paper application that existing and prospective undergraduate and graduate students can fill out to see if they’re eligible for federal student loans, grants, and work-study programs. Ultimately, this financial aid is disbursed by colleges at their discretion based on the information students provide on the FAFSA®. States, colleges, and institutions may also use the information provided by students on their FAFSA® to award other sources of financial aid, like scholarships.

    Students who are eligible for federal financial aid are awarded financial aid by their college, and can spread the funds across the academic year, including the summer.

    How do you file the FAFSA® for summer classes?

    Students are encouraged to file the FAFSA® once per academic year to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. Students who fill out the FAFSA® yearly don’t need to file a separate FAFSA® for the summer.

    For students deciding to file the FAFSA® specifically for the summer, the U.S. Department of Education states that you’ll want to reach out to the school you’re attending for the summer session to decide which year to select when you file the FAFSA®. Your school may also ask you to take additional steps to secure aid for summer classes, too.

    There are two ways to fill out the FAFSA®, and you can choose which option you feel most comfortable with. You can file online at, or a paper FAFSA® is available for students who can’t file online.

    When’s the FAFSA® due?

    The FAFSA® deadline is June 30th each year. In the case of the 2024-25 FAFSA®, the deadline to file is June 30, 2025.

    You may want to consider applying earlier rather than later when you file the FAFSA®, as some schools may have limited financial aid and scholarships available, and some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The FAFSA® open date for the 2025-26 academic year will be October 1, 2024. lists deadline information for state-provided aid, which may differ from the federal deadline.

    What financial aid is available for summer?

    Financial aid for the summer term may include grants like the Federal Pell Grant, federal student loans like Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Loans, PLUS loans, and private student loans.

    For most aid programs, you must be enrolled for at least six credits during the summer session. Exceptions to this can include the Federal Pell Grant in specific cases and private student loans.

    How much financial aid can you receive for summer classes?

    The amount of financial aid you can receive for the summer term is dependent on information such as:

    • Your school’s expected summer term enrollment costs and living expenses
    • Your Student Aid Index (SAI)

    As a refresher, the SAI is the eligibility index number used by financial aid offices at colleges and universities to award aid. This number helps schools determine how much federal student aid and other types of aid to award to students, if any.

    For the Pell Grant award, eligible undergraduate students can expect to receive up to $3,697.50 for the summer session. Note that graduate students are not eligible for the Pell Grant. It may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the requirements for receiving a Pell Grant for summer classes.

    Students may be eligible for Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans for summer classes just as they are for the regular academic year if they haven’t borrowed their yearly maximum yet. The yearly maximum is the largest amount in Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans in a given year a student can borrow as set by the federal government. Borrowers may be eligible for PLUS loans up to the term’s cost of attendance. For private student loans, students may borrow up to their school’s cost of attendance.

    What are some alternatives to FAFSA® aid for summer classes?

    If you find yourself in a position where the financial aid provided by filing the FAFSA® isn’t sufficient to support you in taking summer classes, there are some alternatives to consider leaning on. These include: 

    • Scholarships    
    • Private loans
    • Grants
    • Peer-to-peer loans
    • Online crowdfunding
    • Aid from family and friends
    • ·A part-time job

    Final thoughts

    There are many sources of financial aid available from both the federal government, states, and schools themselves to help cover summer classes if you’re eligible. Because financial aid for summer classes may feel less straightforward than for the normal academic year, consider reaching out to your school’s financial aid office for guidance on navigating the financial aid process.