How to get a student loan for summer classes

Get the financial aid you need to help cover the cost of your summer classes. (iStock)

If you’re planning to take summer classes this year, things may look a little different, but you can still get financial assistance to help pay for your courses. While most students know they can get help on the fall/winter track, there is financial assistance for summer terms as well.

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While many colleges offer a more limited catalog during the summer, there are significant benefits to opting for a hot-weather track, including fewer people in your class and potentially lower tuition fees. You can also use these terms to take more demanding courses with a less intense credit load.

Tuition costs will vary based on the type of college you’re attending. According to EducationData.org, the average annual price for a private four-year university is $48,879, and the average yearly cost for a public four-year college is $21,950. The cost can change if you opt for an out-of-state school.

While education expenses can be daunting, there several options that can help you finance your summer term:

Shop and compare private student loans

Student loan options for summer school include private loans. Private loans are typically a bit more expensive and could have a variable- or fixed-interest rate. Private loans are not subsidized, which means that you are responsible for paying interest on your loan while you are attending school or risk the interest adding up until you begin payments after you graduate.

8 OF THE BEST PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS IN 2020

Additionally, if you want to qualify for a private student loan, you’ll need a good credit history or have the help of a cosigner. Private loans are useful if you need to cover the difference between what you receive from other financial aid (like grants, scholarships, or federal student loans). You may also be able to qualify for more help than with a federal loan, as they aren’t need-based.

If you're interested in this option, here are some of the best private student loan vendors (offering some of the lowest rates or rate discounts) this year, according to Credible’s resident experts. You can also research multiple private student loan lenders at once, by using a tool like to compare rates.

CORONAVIRUS STUDENT LOAN INTEREST WAIVERS BEING OFFERED — HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE

If you're a student, you can fill some information out online to determine your specific rate.

No matter what courses you plan to take this summer, know that you can still get financial aid to help cover the costs. If you’re considering a student loan, don’t forget to use a student loan interest calculator to determine if it’s a good option for you and which loan will save you the most money.

Apply for a college grant

Nothing beats free money. A grant is money you don’t have to pay back. Many grants are smaller amounts, but if you apply and receive multiple awards, you could cover the cost of a lot of your college tuition without ever having to repay the money.

One of the most common grants is the Federal Pell Grant. Students who have a financial need could qualify for a grant from the federal government. Applicants must meet financial qualifications and must maintain a minimum number of credits during the term they use the money. As of publication, the maximum Federal Pell Grant award is $6,345.

5 THINGS YOU CAN USE STUDENT LOANS FOR (BESIDES TUITION)

You can also apply for private grants. Your financial aid office may be able to connect you with private donations available to students at your school. Additionally, consider using a resource like CollegeScholarships.org to browse a variety of grant options.

Look for scholarships

Another way to get free money for college is to qualify for a scholarship. Most colleges offer academic scholarships. Scholarships and grants provide the same benefit, but scholarships are typically merit-based. Merit-based means that the student earns the scholarship with grades or participating in specific programs. Awards are need-based.

HOW TO FIND A COSIGNER FOR A LOAN

There are many scholarships available. Check your financial aid office, local library, or The Department of Labor’s website for free scholarship information.

Apply for federal loans

If you plan on taking out student loans, a federal student loan typically offers more benefits and are less expensive. Federal student loans often have lower interest rates, and many allow you to defer payments until after you graduate or change your enrollment to part-time.  Federal student loans always have a fixed interest rate. Unless you apply for a PLUS loan, you don’t need to meet any credit standards to qualify for a federal student loan.

You can consolidate loans owned by the government, qualify for emergency deferments, income-based repayment plans, and loan forgiveness programs. You’ll need to show need (your income or your parent’s income) and maintain a 2.0 GPA to maintain eligibility. You can apply for a federal student loan through FAFSA.