For many students, the summer season isn’t all about beach days and relaxing poolside. The Keene State College summer semester program is being extended from 10 weeks to 12 weeks, starting the summer of 2019. 

This will allow students taking summer courses to qualify for financial aid, which is currently not an option for the summer semester. 

KSC Director of Continuing Education Robert Baker said, “As a result of the lengthened summer calendar, financial aid will be more easily accessible to students and more courses will also be accessible to more students.”

This is made possible through a new concept introduced by the federal government called the Borrower Based Academic Year (BBAY). 

One of the requirements for BBAY is that all of a student’s semesters must be equivalent in length. 

KSC Academic Scheduler Brendan Denehy said, “The fall and spring are roughly 15 weeks here at Keene, so by adjusting the beginning and end of our summer semester, we made it 12 weeks, which [the government .calls] equivalent.”

Currently, the summer semester is a variety of flexible course programs. Denehy said, “We have courses that run 10 weeks, some that run eight weeks, six weeks. We have some intensive classes that are one week, but you go from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., so it’s a variable structure for summer.” 

While this flexibility may work for students, it does not coincide with the need for more accessible financial aid options. 

How financial aid works for students differs under BBAY. 

Currently, students get a certain amount of financial aid and split half in the fall semester and half in the spring semester. 

“But we have students now who go fall, spring and summer… you can go into that structure [BBAY] and you can take the money that you had gotten in your first year and do fall and spring, and your second year is now summer and fall,” Denehy said. 

With this structure, students could keep studying continuously and finish up in three or three and a half years, depending on whether or not they take a break. 

As for whether or not applying for financial aid differs between summer courses and the fall and spring semesters, KSC Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Cathy Mullins said, “Yes and no; a student still must have a completed FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Aid] on file and be eligible to be considered for aid.” 

Next, the student would make an appointment with the Financial Aid office and discuss their plan, cost of attendance and the aid they are eligible for. 

Then the student must complete the Summer Financial Aid application and would know what money they will be receiving. 

Lately, many students are choosing to not go the traditional fall and spring semester route. 

An example of this concept being put into action is the new construction safety program that has just been implemented. 

Denehy said that this program has a summer semester built into it, with the idea of students being able to graduate in three and a half years.

Beginning in the summer of 2019, with this new summer semester, courses can begin as early as one week after commencement, and end as late as one week before the start of the fall semester. Plan accordingly. 

Rachel Vitello can be contacted at rvitello@kscequinox.com