Some academic programs require co-op and others offer it as an option. In all cases, if you are going to co-op during the academic year, be sure that the Student Financial Aid Office is made aware of your plans in order to maximize your aid.
Important Change in Loan Process
Recent changes in federal regulations around Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans require the Student Financial Aid Office to adjust loans across all 3 terms (fall-spring-summer) when a student intends to enroll year-round. Enforcement of these changes most notably take place with the 2013-14 aid year. This regulation is not optional.
Co-op students will be most affected because they enroll year-round in either classes or co-op most of their college years. At the same time, any student attending fall-spring-summer will be treated as described below.
Even though co-op terms carry lower tuition costs, loans for students attending year-round must now be split evenly between all 3 terms (including co-op terms). Students cannot request alternate distribution of their Federal Direct Loans.
Normally, a student's financial aid package is built around a 9-month academic year with 2 terms of tuition. However, as a co-op student, you are going to be a student year-round. Therefore, alerting Student Financial Aid that you are on co-op adjusts your budget to 12 months (either 2 terms of tuition or 2 terms of co-op fees with 1 term of the other based on your specific rotation). This change can also adjust your eligibility in some aid programs.
While some aid programs will not adjust based on your co-op rotation, other aid funds will only be available to you during in-class terms. Informing Student Financial Aid of your co-op/class schedule allows for maximization of your aid and fewer suprises when aid is retroactively adjusted as required
Because some aid will be made available to you when on co-op, your full eligibility in that aid program may exhaust prior to summer term. Students taking summer classes will need to plan accordingly to meet their anticipated higher summer bill.
Ultimately, some financial aid is divided to post fall-spring, other aid divides over all three terms of enrollment, and still other aid posts only when a student is in classes. In all cases, like with co-op earnings, it is the student's responsibility to manage any aid overages and refund checks on any given semester to account for financial needs throughout the full academic year attendance.
Report your co-op plans when you accept your aid online and to One Stop or Student Financial Aid when plans change in order to maximize the aid available to you. Understanding your aid distribution during academic years where you co-op one or more terms will help you plan to meet financial demands with aid and earnings throughout that year.
Remember that co-op earnings are also a way to reduce reliance on loans and pay for upcoming in-class terms when possible. Co-op students should take a look at their loan borrowing relative to maximum loan eligibility, co-op rotations, and overall financial planning.
Goal 1 is to limit loan indebtednesss as you begin your career post-college. Graduating with the lowest possible loan debt make for easier budgeting and more disposable income after graduation.
As you do with your co-op planning, plan out your college career borrowing, not just a single year. For example, if you borrow the maximum allowed for a dependent student each of your 5 years (assuming quick class progression), that adds up to $27,000 in 4 years. With a $31,000 aggregate limit, that will leave only $4,000 (less than your freshman year borrowing eligibility) for your final year that may have the highest tuition costs.
You are always wise to live frugally. While loans can assist you in selecting unique co-op placements, be careful if you are living on loan debt in the same way you are using co-op earnings without an eye on your future in-class costs within an academic year and in future years. Debt and earnings are not equal funding.
Additionally, students who only plan to attend one in-class semester during an academic year should consider reducing their loan borrowing the most since tuition costs will be lowest that year, and they will have more earnings. This adjustment can help reduce overall borrowing and ensure you do not exhaust your aggregate borrowing limit prior to graduation.
The University of Cincinnati has a rich history in cooperative education. In fact, we invented it here. Students have a unique opportunity to alternate classes and work in order to gain real-world experience and put into practice classroom theories.
Additionally, many co-op students find they can reduce reliance on student loans through their earnings and a planful approach to their co-op placement.
Co-op advising, employment and evaluation is managed through the Division of Professional Practice.