Chancellor Linda Katehi and UC Davis staff are strongly encouraging students to enroll in summer sessions this year.
The need-based summer Pell Grant – awarded to Pell Grant recipients for the first time last summer – is in jeopardy under President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget proposal. In summer of 2010, 3,882 UC Davis students received the grant.
“The summer Pell grant is on the chopping block and likely to be eliminated by next summer, possibly this summer but hopefully not,” said Katy Maloney, director of the Financial Aid Office, in an e-mail interview.
Financial aid for summer is based on the 2010-2011 FAFSA and is considered part of the 2010-2011 aid year, Maloney said. There is an additional online application available the same day in May that students can enroll for summer courses.
Maloney also noted that it’s important to apply very early because grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Summer grants are limited and loans are often based on the unused portion of the regular academic year, but there is also the limited Perkins loan, and for the time being, the Pell Grant.
The amount a student receives from a Pell Grant typically depends on the expected family contribution and the cost of attendance. In the summer, it also depends on how many units the student is taking, Maloney said. This amount of funding is usually less than during the academic year.
Pell Grants currently comprise about a third of the financial aid rewarded per student over the summer, said Gary Ford, associate vice provost of Undergraduate Studies and director of the summer sessions program. At least 26 percent of student fees must be returned to students as aid.
Ford said that he expects a 10 to 15 percent decrease in summer enrollment if the Pell Grant is eliminated.
However, Katehi is encouraging an increase in student enrollment in summer sessions for the upcoming years as a way to help solve the budget crisis.
In a letter to UC President Mark Yudof, Katehi wrote that an increase in summer enrollment would contribute $4 million toward the shortfall in 2011-2012 and $6 million in 2013-2014.
“Students need to use summer to ensure timely progress because of some limited availability of courses during fall-winter-spring,” Katehi said in the letter.
Ford said that given the decentralized nature of the summer program, he cannot estimate the final earnings. Last year, the program finally cleared its $3 million deficit over at least three years. Future earnings will go toward solving academic issues throughout the year.
A common misconception is that summer sessions are more expensive than normal academic quarters, Ford said.
“In summer you pay by the unit, so that’s the first time you see how much it costs per unit,” he said. “But the way the fees are set, if you were to take 15 units across the two sessions then the cost for that would be the same as the normal academic quarter.”
The cost per unit for Summer 2011 is $247. Students also must pay a campus fee of $290.24 per session.
Additionally, summer sessions are a way to catch up or graduate sooner, Ford said. Approximately 4 percent of students take summer courses to graduate in three years.
Early graduation may help the budget crisis by limiting the costs for the campus if students were to prolong their education.
“If students have just a few courses remaining, they may stay the full academic year,” Ford said. “So the campus would endure costs of their additional education during that time.”
First-year students interested in taking summer classes can be provided with on-campus housing through Conference Housing Services.
MARTHA GEORGIS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.