A full-time student is one who has enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits or about four classes per semester. A part-time student is one who is enrolled in less 12 credit hours. Full-time students generally spend more time in class during a semester than part-time students.
The most notable difference between part-time and full-time student hours is the number of credit hours they take during a semester. But there’s more to the difference between full-time and part-time students than just the amount of credit
Here’s what you need to know about how many hours a constitutes a full-time student and the pros and cons.
How Many Classes Is Full-time?
Generally, a student who takes 12 credits or hours per semester is considered a full-time student. As every class typically requires at least 3 classes, you would need to take at least 4 classes per semester to be considered full-time.
However, this may vary from one college to another. Every school sets their own minimum requirements for a student to be considered full-time. It’s important that you find out your school’s specific requirements. What makes you a full-time student at your school may be different from that of other schools. Knowing your enrollment status matters as it impacts your financial aid as well as your taxes.
Advantages Of Being A Full-Time Student
One benefit of full-time enrollment is that you’ll complete school faster. This means you’ll be able to get out there and start working earlier. The earlier you start working, the faster you’ll be able to pay back your loans. This could save you thousands in accrued interest.
As a full-time student, you’ll be eligible for a much wider range of scholarships. Many scholarships are only available for full-time students. You’ll automatically be disqualified if you’re a part-time student. Winning a scholarship can make a big difference to your cost of college. Of course, you have to put in the work to win a scholarship but it is well worth the effort.
Another factor that helps to balance out the overall cost is that after you reach the tuition cost cap, you are no longer paying per credit. This allows you to get the most bang for your buck, although you have to deal with a larger cost up-front.
Some schools also require that you live on campus to be considered a full-time student. Check with your school’s policies on the matter before making your decision if living on campus is what you want to do.
Families of full-time students may also be eligible for tax breaks.
How Many Classes Is Part-time?
If you enroll in less than 12 credit hours in college, you’ll be considered a part-time student. As with full-time enrollment, this too can vary from one institution to another. Make sure you check your school’s policies so you understand your enrollment status and its implications.
Advantages Of Being A Part-Time Student
With a part-time student status you’ll have more flexibility in your schedule. After all, it’s a lot easier to pick two classes that don’t overlap than to try and work in five.
An open schedule also allows you to work more hours while moving through your college career. Studying part-time makes it easier to pay off tuition costs as you go because you’ll have the time to take on a job. This is most useful if you do not want to take out big loans or cannot get scholarships.
Going to school part-time can also help you earn in-state residency (and therefore in-state tuition, which can be useful if there is a significant difference). This is because you cannot get residency for most states while going to school full-time.
How Enrollment Status Impacts College Tuition
In many cases, you must be considered a full-time student in order to be eligible for federal financial age. You may also be required to enroll as a full-time student to be eligible for certain state financial aid programs such as free tuition programs.
Can You Be Both a Part-Time and A Full-Time Student?
It is completely acceptable to mix the two types of statuses. Sometimes the stress of full-time school can get to be too much, so taking a part-time semester or part-time year can help.
Or maybe you’ve gotten most of your credits through part-time schooling and want to finish up your last year and a half with fifteen credits each semester. Situations change, and so you can adapt your status to fit your situation best.
There are also research positions or internships that might make you drop to part-time to earn that vital experience. The important thing to remember is that you have the ability to adjust your schedule to whatever fits your needs.
So, what are the benefits of choosing one over the other?
With part-time student status, there is more flexibility with your schedule. After all, it’s a lot easier to pick two classes that don’t overlap than to try and work in five. An open schedule allows you to work more while moving through your college career. It is also most possible to pay off tuition costs as you go when you study part-time because you have the time to work. This is most useful if you do not want to take out big loans or cannot get scholarships. Going to school part-time can also help you earn in-state residency (and therefore in-state tuition, which can be useful if there is a significant difference). This is because you cannot get residency for most states while going to school full-time.
To recap, here are the benefits of being a part time student:
- More flexibility in scheduling classes
- Allows you more time to work and earn money
- Allows you possibility to pay for your tuition as you go
- Can aid you in earning in-state-residency
The benefits of full-time include completing school faster. There are also many scholarships that require you to be a full-time student in order for you to utilize them. These scholarships can help nullify the cost difference. But of course, you have to apply for them and continue to earn them. Another thing that helps to balance out the overall cost is that after you reach the tuition cost cap, you are no longer paying per credit. In a way, this means you get the most bang for your buck; you just have to deal with a larger cost up-front.
Some schools also require that you be a full-time student to live on campus. Check with your school’s policies on the matter before making your decision if living on campus is what you want to do.
To recap, here are the benefits of being a full-time student:
- Complete degree faster
- You are eligible for a much wider range of scholarships
- You are eligible to live on campus
- Families of full-time students may be eligible for tax breaks
Every decision concerning college has its pros and cons, but almost none more so than deciding between going part-time or full-time student hours. The most important thing to remember about this decision is that it should be based on what is best for you as a student.
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