Summer semester difficult to plan, financial aid situation specific

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Weighing the positives and negatives of taking summer courses can be as difficult for students as enduring southern Utah’s mid-July swelter.

Registration for summer semester is open. With multiple class blocks, ranging from five-week to 14-week, and numerous variables for financial aid ability, summer semester presents Dixie State University students with uncertainty in regards to finances and time management that fall and spring don’t.

Dexter Humphreys, a junior communication major from Hatch, said he hopes to take a full credit load this summer. However, doing so became difficult when he realized some course blocks begin weeks after spring semester and end more than a month before fall semester, making his summer job search difficult. Humphreys said summer block’s schedule is spaced out in a way that complicates working and taking courses at the same time. 

“[Planning around the schedule] is the hardest thing,” he said. “There are three weeks before that eight-week block and then five weeks after, so that’s actually a challenge for me of finding jobs or things to fill my time. I don’t want to spend summer just sitting on my hands, so that’s actually a challenge.”

Humphreys also said balancing school and finances has complicated his plans. 

For other students, academic adviser Summer Fackler said taking summer classes is the only way to graduate in the suggested four years.

Fackler said the “Finish in Four” campaign advertised on campus promotes the idea of taking 15 credits per semester for eight straight semesters. In certain circumstances, though, Fackler said students fall behind even when following the “Finish in Four” suggestions. Students who must take developmental classes like ENGL 0990 and MATH 900 can’t take the typical 15 credits and stay on course.

J.D. Robertson, DSU financial aid executive director, said depending on students’ circumstances, financial aid can help alleviate the economic burden placed on them.

Robertson said financial aid availability during summer is situation-specific. To better their chances of receiving aid, he said students should meet with a financial aid adviser. However, Robertson said a general measurement is that if students attended school full time during spring and fall and received Pell grants, they will have met their maximum amounts already. In addition, advisers must look at students’ individual files to determine whether they’re eligible for aid or not.

Whether students qualify for aid during summer or not, Robertson said they can reap the little-known economic benefits. Non-resident students can take courses for resident tuition fees during summer; also, taking one or two classes can bolster transcripts.

“Even if students just take one three-credit class during the summer, if they’re here for three years, that would almost knock out one semester,” he said. “It would lighten the load of some of their semesters down the road.”

Robertson said students interested in registering for summer courses should enroll now and meet with a financial aid adviser to discuss potential funding. To schedule an appointment with an adviser, go to the financial aid offices, located on the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons’ first floor.