Financial Aid

Everything You Need to Know About Summer Melt

Find out about the financial aid phenomenon, Summer Melt, and what it could mean for you.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

June 02, 2022

Everything You Need to Know About Summer Melt
The meaning of summer melt is two-fold.
College-bound students may experience a variety of emotions over the course of the summer, ranging from excitement to confusion to outright fear. For some students, the latter feelings become so severe that they opt out of attending college in the fall. Fortunately, communities across the United States are meeting the needs of these students, preventing them from melting away and helping them move forward with their plans to attend college.

What is Summer Melt?

Each summer, roughly 10-40% of college-bound students who are planning to go to college change their mind, withdrawing their enrollment completely, according to Strategic Data Project from the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University. It occurs more often with low-income students who may not have sufficient financial aid, miss deadlines, or lack support from their community.

How Can You Combat Summer Melt?

Students that are daunted by the prospect of college and considering backing out should keep in mind a few things. First, if funds are too limited to realistically afford college, you can contact your school’s financial aid office to negotiate your financial aid package. Second, you can continue the scholarship search throughout the summer and for the remainder of the college years, keeping in mind that scholarships are not just limited to high school seniors. Third, you can seek encouragement and guidance from your friends and family about the excitement and achievement of going to college.
In addition to support from family and friends, schools and universities have initiated text plans in order to send encouragement to students throughout their senior year and the summer leading up to attendance. Georgia State University tested automated texts to applicants in 2016 that helped to guide students through the application process as well as the summer between high school and college. As a result, their summer melt percentage dropped 22%, according to Georgia State. Local college achievement programs in various metropolitan areas have begun offering the same service, helping hundreds of college-bound seniors stay the course to college. Check with your school counselor to get connected with an organization near you if you haven’t already been in contact with one.
As you make plans to start your first year of college, remember that there is more to do besides scoping out your future roommate on social media, picking out bedding, and registering for classes. Talk to your financial aid office about a better deal. Share any concerns you have about leaving for college with your family, friends and counselors. This is one of the most exciting opportunities of your life; now it’s time to get ready for a life-changing experience!

The Other Side of Summer Melt

The term “summer melt” has multiple meanings in the admissions world. While it mostly describes the phenomenon of students who were at one point committed but decided not to enroll, it also refers to those financial aid dollars that free up at certain institutions because students are dropping away or changing their intended college. There is no penalty for switching from one college to another; however, students do lose out on their deposit at their initial choice. What’s more, they relinquish their financial aid package at that school too. So what does this have to do with you? Read further to see how to get more financial aid as a result of a few changed minds:

1. Write a letter or make a phone call to the financial aid office.

First, start the conversation by thanking the school for the generous financial aid package that they already awarded you. Proceed to discuss your enthusiasm for the school and ask nicely if there is any further financial aid that has become available and can be distributed to your financial aid package.

2. Know when to call.

It would be pointless to contact the school’s financial aid office the week after May 1, or National Decision Day. Rather, wait until mid-summer, i.e. late June or July. At this point, those students who were unsure in May have committed to their final decision, thereby freeing up financial aid.

3. Do your research.

While there may be financial aid money that is unclaimed, there may also be scholarships that fall into the same category. Ask the financial aid office if there are still scholarship opportunities that are open or were never distributed. They can tell you how to apply.

4. Be honest.

If your financial circumstances have changed, this is your chance to let the financial aid office know before the school year begins. So if a job loss or death has impacted your family’s finances, share this with the financial aid office now.

Finding Other College Funding Sources this Summer

If you still do not have sufficient funds to pay for school, use the summer months to research, apply for, and pursue the following college tuition funding sources:
  1. Scholarships and grants – Many students make the mistake of limiting the scholarship search to their senior year of high school. Remember that you can apply for scholarships and grants using Fastweb the entire time you’re enrolled in school. Make sure you update your profile and check your Scholarship Matches frequently.
  2. Student Loans – If you need help bridging the gap between what your college costs and your merit and financial aid package, you can find relief with private student loans. Fastweb’s Student Loan Center can help you find the right student loan to fund your education.
  3. Part-Time Jobs and Paid Internships – Finding and keeping a part-time job can help you pay for student expenses while you’re in school. Some employers even offer their part-time employees tuition assistance to help pay for school.
  4. Education Tax Benefits – There are education tax credits you can claim each year simply for being enrolled in college: the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

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