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.
The Other Side of Summer MeltThe 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 SummerIf 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.