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Trimester Program

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

How is Bentley’s academic year changing?

Beginning this fall, Bentley will be moving to a trimester schedule with fall, spring and summer sessions, along with two one-week intensive sessions where students can complete a single course in a week, in order to offer a flexible, personalized approach to the academic year. Students only need to attend two trimesters per years to continue to make timely progress toward graduation. We recognize that these are difficult and uncertain times for many. This will give students an additional on-campus experience next summer if they need flexibility in the fall. The fall 2020 academic calendar has been updated as part of the university's return to campus plan for the fall. The spring and summer trimesters will be reworked as 14-week sessions.

Who is eligible for this?

All current undergraduate students, Classes of 2021 – 2024, are eligible to take undergraduate courses in the summer of 2021.

Will I be able to take the course I want in the summer session?

Yes, the summer session will offer a full complement of courses for students to take, allowing them to move forward in satisfying graduation requirements and participate in our academic community. 

Will this allow me to graduate early?

Yes, a student who maintains a full course load for the three sessions (fall, spring and summer) will earn enough credits to graduate early, in December of their senior year.  

How will this program affect my financial aid package?

We plan to allow as much flexibility in the distribution of your financial aid as allowed by federal regulations. Depending on the number of courses you register for each term, your cost for each term could vary. Under normal circumstances, Bentley scholarships and need-based grants are only awarded if you are registered for a full-time course load (at least 12 credits). That policy will be relaxed for the 2020-21 academic year, allowing you to receive Bentley scholarships and grants when registered for one to three courses. However, your awards will be pro-rated based on your registration status. You must be registered at least half-time (six credits) to be eligible for the Federal Direct Loan. We expect that each student’s circumstances will be different. Your financial assistance counselor will work with you to ensure your aid is distributed in a way that allows you to avoid any cash flow issues. For more information, please see the Financial Aid FAQ section below. 

How does the new summer session differ from existing summer course offerings?

The new summer trimester will in essence be a combination of our current Summer A and Summer B sessions for one full 14-week session.

Can students live in the residence halls and go to the dining halls during the summer?

Yes, students can elect to live in the residence halls during the summer session and will have access to a range of on-campus food options, subject to public health considerations. All of our residence halls are air-conditioned. Students who elect to live on-campus will be billed for room and board as they would any other session. 

Can I take fewer courses in the fall and still be eligible for this offer?

Yes, to be eligible for free courses during the summer 2021 term, students must enroll in at least one course in any format (on-campus, hybrid or online) for the fall 2020 trimester. Students who enroll part-time (that is, students who take one, two or three courses) in the fall or spring are eligible. Once a student enrolls in and pays for 10 courses over the course of the year, additional courses during the summer will be free. (Winter and spring intensives count as one course.) For example, if a student enrolls in and pays for three courses in the fall and then five courses in the spring, they could pay for two more courses in the summer (for a total of 10 courses over the year) and get the rest of their summer courses for free. Students who enroll full-time (four, five or six courses) in the fall and full-time in the spring can enroll for free in the summer.

Will this involve less time learning in the classroom?

One trimester will offer the same level of instruction as one semester, just on a different timeline. Class schedules will be adjusted as necessary for faculty to complete all material related to the course. The trimester schedule is fully compatible with accreditation requirements. If you have further questions, please reach out to Academic Advising at

Financial Aid

Financial Aid FAQs

How will my scholarship be affected with the addition of a summer session? Can I use my scholarship for the summer term? 
Yes, the summer term is considered a full term, just like any other fall or spring semester under the previous format, so you can use your scholarship. For example, if you were awarded a $10,000 annual scholarship, your per term award is $5,000. You would receive $5,000 for fall, $5,000 for spring and $5,000 for summer (because the three terms equal one and a half years). Your scholarship will be available for any term in 2020-21, even if you are not registered full-time (as required by your scholarship terms). However, the amount may be capped if the term scholarship amount exceeds the cost of attendance for that term. If you qualify for free summer tuition for 2021, your cost of attendance for that term will be much lower. Beginning with the 2021-22 academic year, you must be registered full time to receive your scholarship for fall, spring or summer.

Will my usual financial aid package now be spread over three terms?
No, with trimesters, the three terms are equivalent to three semesters or one and a half academic years. Under the former semester plan, your calculated Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is intended to cover a nine-month academic year. If you plan to register for the summer term, your EFC will be recalculated in accordance with federal financial aid guidelines to reflect registration for a 12-month period and your aid package will reflect the additional costs.

Can I use my scholarship to cover room and board during the summer of 2021?
Yes, your scholarship is available each term for which you are registered but will be capped in 2020-21 based on your course registrations and total cost of attendance. Your scholarship will be credited toward all of your institutional charges, including room and board.

Can I roll over the summer of free tuition to the 2021-22 academic year?
No, the offer of free tuition only applies to undergraduate courses for the summer 2021 term.

When do I have to let the Office of Financial Assistance know what my registration plans are for the year? 
Your initial financial aid package for 2020-21 will be based on an assumption that you will be registered full time for fall and spring and reside in campus housing or an off-campus apartment (unless you indicated on your FAFSA that you will commute from home or the home of a family member). If your enrollment or housing plans change for fall and/or spring, you should contact the Office of Financial Assistance when plans are finalized for an updated award letter.

In February, the Office of Financial Assistance will send a survey to ask your enrollment and housing plans for the summer term, which will allow the OFA to prepare a summer aid package for you in advance of summer term registration. The survey is not binding and you can change your mind. Should your plans change, you should contact the OFA once you have decided upon your actual enrollment and housing plans for an updated award.

Am I eligible for federal loans if I am not registered full time?
Yes, federal loans are available as long as you have not exhausted the annual limit and you are registered at least half time (six credits).

Can I receive Bentley financial aid if I am not registered full time?
In the 2020-21 academic year, we are setting aside the full-time requirement in order to receive Bentley scholarships and grants.  Beginning with the 2021-22 academic year, Bentley aid is only available for students registered full time.

Will I have to start repaying my federal loans if I am not registered full time?
You will enter your grace period when you drop below half-time enrollment. As long as you are registered at least half time prior to your six-month grace period ending, you will not enter repayment. However, interest on the subsidized Federal Direct Loan starts accruing at the start of your grace period.

If tuition is free for the summer, how will my aid be determined?
Your cost of attendance will be calculated using the usual components except that it will not include tuition. It will include room and board (if living on campus or in an off-campus apartment), books and supplies, and personal expenses.  Because there is no tuition (or reduced tuition), your financial aid will be lower than if you were paying full tuition.

Is the free tuition taxable?
No, the free tuition is considered a discount on price, not a taxable benefit.

What kind of help is available for international students who cannot pay full tuition in fall?
International students are not eligible for any need-based assistance. Educational alternative loans may be available with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. International students are eligible to take advantage of the free tuition offer for summer of 2021.

I will be a senior next year. Will I be able to benefit from the free tuition offer?
The free tuition offer is only for undergraduate students. However, if you graduate after the fall or spring term, you are eligible for a 10% discount on graduate courses that is being offered to alumni.

How will Athletics Aid work in the trimester system?
Bentley University Athletic Aid will continue to be awarded for fall and spring terms only. Student athletes receiving athletic aid must be registered full time. Athletic aid could be pro-rated if a student’s cost of attendance is lower than standard (for example, if a student is not living on campus).

I am in the BS-MS in Finance program. Am I eligible for free summer tuition in 2021?
The free summer tuition is for undergraduate courses only. Students in the BS-MS in Finance program typically take graduate courses in the summer prior to their final year.  However, a student may also take undergraduate courses and benefit from free tuition, if all other eligibility requirements are met.