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Summer tuition and financial aid

Posted By Caitlin Cochran, Thursday, July 6, 2017

Our Provost's Office is pushing us towards a significant increase in our summer tuition rates, but our students (and parents) already complain that the tuition is too high. This is especially challenging for our students on financial aid because the aid is so limited during the summer. Only students who meet a certain need threshold during the year will receive aid, and only if they are taking a full load. 

How are your schools determining summer tuition rates? 

How is financial aid awarded in the summer term?

Are visiting students eligible for any kind of aid as well?


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Gary Simon says...
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2017
At The University of Tampa, our per credit hour tuition rate is the same in summer as during the fall and spring semesters.
There is no institutional aid made available in the summer. Summer financial aid tends to not affect graduate, foreign, and veterans students as it does traditional undergrads who have usually used all their aid in the fall and spring.
We provide no special assistance for visiting students.
Increasing summer tuition too much might be defeating the intended purpose if it reduces the number of credit hours taken. Some schools (hopefully they will comment) have housing or tuition incentives to encourage students to take the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th summer class. Cleverly incentivizing for more credit hours might be something to consider to increase summer revenue, which I expect is the intention.
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Crystal Cusimano-Figueroa says...
Posted Thursday, July 6, 2017
At the University of Rochester, the summer rate per credit rate is discounted by 40%. There is no institutional aid during the summer. They are eligible for federal aid if they take at least 12 credits.
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Susanna Cowan says...
Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Hi, Caitlin.

Let's see if I can take them in order...

How are your schools determining summer tuition rates?
Like Gary, UConn's summer tuition rates are the same Board-of-Trustees-approved per credit rates embedded in fall/spring tuition. Interestingly (I've always thought), students don't "see" per-credit costs in fall/spring--even though they could of course view the breakdown at the Bursar's website. So they think of summer as expensive because the tuition/fees are so visible.
Actually, summer trims off the excess fat, as it were. In addition to tuition, students pay several fees (registration fee/non-refundable for all; tech fee for all; student activities fee for f2f courses; online course fee when online), but they're relatively small: a UConn student taking an online course would pay $135 on top of tuition. That is WAY less than the fall/spring fees. A typical undergrad taking 12+ credits in fall pays almost $1500 in addition to tuition to cover "infratructure" and "university" fees. So Summer's trims it down to tuition and a little to cover the other essentials.

I've come to realize that the misperception behind most students finding summer expensive is based on some false assumptions:
-that fall/spring are "paid for" (magically?)--that is, that everything's covered somehow by "help" in the form of financial aid or scholarships. Yet as we all know, even the highest need Pell Grant recipients don't have 100% of fees covered, and most students are getting a little financial aid and paying the rest themselves through loans and savings and the cash stuffed under their grandmother's mattress! Given that, summer--although you usually have to cover it all yourself--probably saves you money if you stack up a few summer courses. But few students have the financial literacy to understand how it plays out in the long run... (and the myth of summer getting you ahead of a 4-year graduation time is probably not helpful to us. But if summer keeps you closer to four/five years...and saves you a sixth/seventh year--then you're certainly saving money!)

How is financial aid awarded in the summer term?
Again like Gary: we have no "free money" (as the Director of Financial Aid once described it) in summer. Or only for Pell who have held some back--which means essentially no one has this (who can afford to hold back much-needed aid?). So "aid" means undesirable loans in summer. A healthier option for most students is to think of the flexibility of summer courses as allowing them to also have jobs. Said jobs can either cover the cost of the summer course(s) or at least counter-balance the expense (especially in mom/dad's eyes).

Are visiting students eligible for any kind of aid as well?
Nothing for visiting students. These aren't the priority at UConn. Despite the time we all spend marketing to them...they make up no more than 10% of our summer enrollment in a typical year. Our summer students are very much our own students (having said that, we will hear from our visiting students much more often and loudly because they won't hesitate to ask for their money back when the product doesn't suit them--UConn is for them a store at which they're buying a course they need. Without loyalty to the institution, they'll fight us tooth and nail for every penny back when they're dissatisfied. I sometimes wonder if it's worth the added revenue...given the time we spend responding to and appeasing these students.)
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Caitlin Cochran says...
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Thank you all for your comments! This is all super helpful.
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Christine Billings says...
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2017
I'll add this last comment, which you may find helpful (we do when advocating for/against summer tuition rates).

What is your transient study policy at your institution? Are you able to identify where your students are attending during the summer (e.g. local community college or an institution "back home") and why (e.g. price, ease, location). While certainly, price can be a factor, we've found that the time/location issue was significant - thus have increased our online offerings significantly in the past few years.

We do offer a lower tuition rate in the summer compared to fall/spring.
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