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Trimester Program 2020-21

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


What is the 2020-21 Trimester Program?

For the  2020-2021 academic year, Bentley moved to a trimester schedule with fall, spring and summer sessions, along with two one-week intensive sessions where students could complete a single course in a week. The program  allows eligible undergraduate students  to take free courses during the summer 2021 trimester. This flexible, personalized approach allows students to make continued progress toward completing their degree despite the hardships brought on by the pandemic.  
During the summer 2021 trimester, students can choose to live on campus at the standard room and board rate.   

How will the summer 2021 trimester be scheduled?

The summer term will begin on Monday, May 17 and will offer a 14-week experience with a wide variety of classes. To give students additional flexibility with their summer plans, the summer will be divided into two seven-week sessions. The first session will begin on Monday, May 17, and end on Friday, July 2. The second session will begin on Tuesday, July 6, and end on Friday, Aug. 20. Students may enroll in one or both sessions.   
A one-week summer intensive session will be offered the week of Monday, May 10. 

When will students register for summer classes?

Students will register for summer classes in March 2021. 

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 disruptions in cash flow. For more information, please see the Financial Aid section below.  

How many credits can I enroll in?

Eligible undergraduate students may enroll in up to nine credits per summer session and a maximum of 19 credits, inclusive of the summer intensive. Students are allowed to enroll in one or both summer sessions. The two separate sessions are designed to allow students the option to preserve at least half the summer for a break from studies, if they choose. 

Eligible students can take up to three courses in each 7-week term. Students are subject to the academic policies related to enrollment in more than five courses. 

If you plan to take a lab course, we recommend not taking more than a total of two courses in one 7-week session. Please remember that each 7-week course will require you to attend class for five hours and 20 minutes each week. If you take three courses, you will spend over 16 hours per week in classes, not including time needed to complete homework. Lab courses will meet for a total of eight hours per week. When planning your courses for the summer, also please keep in mind any other obligations you may have.

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. 

Will this involve less time learning in the classroom?

Students will spend the same amount of time in class as they do in a normal fall or spring term, just on a different timeline. Summer 2021 will include two 7-week sessions of classes. In order to maintain the same hours of learning in a 7-week period as we offer in a full fall or spring term, students will spend more time in class each week and should, therefore, plan their schedules accordingly. Students will spend over five hours in each class each week as opposed to a typical fall or spring term of two and a half hours per week. Lab courses will meet for a total of eight hours per week. If you have other questions, please email Academic Advising at   



Who is eligible to take classes during the summer 2021 trimester?

All current undergraduate students, Classes of 2021 – 2024, are eligible to take undergraduate courses in the summer of 2021. However, not all students are eligible to take classes for free. 

Who is eligible for the free course offer?

Undergraduate students enrolled full-time in both fall 2020 and spring 2021 are eligible for free enrollment this summer. Students who enroll part-time (that is, students who take one to three courses) in the fall or spring are also eligible once they meet the 10-course requirement. After enrolling in and paying for the courses needed to reach this requirement, additional courses during the summer will be free. 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. 

I will be a senior next year. Will I be able to benefit from the free tuition offer? 

Students completing their undergraduate degrees in May 2021 are eligible for free summer undergraduate courses if they have attended Bentley full-time for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Graduate courses are not available as part of the free summer. 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.

Are students in the Advanced Standing in Finance or Advanced Standing in Business programs eligible for free summer tuition in 2021? 

The free summer tuition is for undergraduate courses only.   

Students in the Advanced Standing in Finance (ASF, or BS-MS in Finance) program typically take graduate courses in the summer prior to their final year. However, an ASF student may also take undergraduate courses and benefit from free tuition, if all other eligibility requirements are met. Since summer is the first term of the ASF program for the 2021-2022 year, it is considered the first term of your senior year. If taking free undergraduate coursework accelerates your program and enables you to receive your undergraduate degree after the summer 2021 term, you will be coded as a graduate student starting fall 2021. If you are an aid recipient, any fall undergraduate aid and scholarships will be cancelled and your eligibility reassessed as a graduate student. Undergraduate merit scholarships are not applicable to graduate courses.   

Students in the Advanced Standing in Business (ASB, or BS/BA-MBA) program do not typically take graduate courses during the summer. ASB students may take undergraduate courses during the summer and benefit from free tuition, if all other eligibility requirements are met. 

Students in the Advanced Standing in Finance program or the Advanced Standing in Business program should contact the Office of Financial Assistance to understand their financial responsibility. 

Course Offerings

Will a variety of courses be offered in the summer session?

The university is working hard to make sure the summer 2021 schedule includes a full range of courses that will be of interest to the widest number of students possible. While we cannot guarantee that every course a student may want will be offered, we are confident that all students who wish to enroll this summer will find a set of courses that will advance their degree.  

Will there be honors sections offered this summer?

Yes, we will have a limited number of honors sections offered this summer. If you have specific questions about the selection of honors sections being offered, please email the Honors Program director, Professor Christian Rubio ( 

What academic support will be available for students taking classes this summer?

The learning labs and centers will be open during the summer for academic support and tutoring. Academic advising will also be available and the Library will be open. 

Can I do an undergraduate internship for credit this summer?

Yes! Undergraduate students can complete 3-credit and 1-credit internships this summer.  

What modalities will be offered this summer?

As we did in fall 2020 and spring 2021, we will offer a mix of hybrid (both in-person and online), fully synchronous online and asynchronous courses this summer.

I was thinking about taking a course at home in addition to taking a couple of courses at Bentley this summer. Can I still do that?

Typically, students may enroll in no more than 13 credits of summer course work. For summer 2021 only, students may enroll up to 19 credits if their current GPA is at least a 2.7. 

During the summer 2021 term, seniors within 18 credits of graduating may enroll in up to 19 credits if they have an overall GPA of 2.00 or higher. 

This policy includes summer credits earned at Bentley*, regardless of course delivery mode, transfer credits earned at another institution through the Course Away process, or a combination of Bentley and Course Away (transfer) credits. Students taking courses for credit beyond this limit may not apply the additional course credits to their academic program. 

For example, you may not take 19 credits of major and GB courses at Bentley and another three credits of general education at your local community college and have all 22 credits apply to your Bentley program. 

* Summer courses are defined as courses taken between the end of the Bentley spring semester until the beginning of the Bentley fall semester in any given calendar year. Bentley summer courses include May intensives. 

Financial Aid

How will my scholarship be affected with the addition of a summer session? Can I use my scholarship for the summer term?  

Yes, scholarships can be applied as the summer term is considered a full term, just like any other fall or spring term under the previous format. 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 Office of Financial Assistance  to prepare a summer aid package for you in advance of summer term registration. The survey is not binding and changes can be made as needed. If your plans change, you should contact the Office of Financial Assistance 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 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 halftime 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 the 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.

How will Athletic 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). 


Do I have to live on campus this summer to take advantage of the free classes?

No, students have the option to live on campus this summer, but it is not required to take advantage of the free classes.

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 and will have access to a range of on-campus food options. 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.

When will I be able to sign up for summer housing? 

The Residential Center will be planning a Summer Housing Selection Process, which will take place toward the end of March and will be separate from the traditional fall process. More information will be sent out early in the spring term regarding this process.

What will my options be for summer housing? Can I choose my roommates? 

Students who plan to live on campus for the summer will go through a selection process to select their housing assignment and will have the option of selecting roommates/suitemates. We will continue to monitor the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and make the best use of our housing inventory depending on state health guidelines. More information about which buildings will be available, as well as a timeline for the process, will be released early in the spring term.

How much will housing cost this summer? 

You can view information on housing and meal plan costs here

Can I live on campus for only one of the 7-week sessions? Or do I have to live on campus all summer?  

Students will have the option to choose to live on campus for one or both of the 7-week sessions in the summer. More information about this process will be available during the housing selection process for the summer term that will take place in the spring trimester. 

Other FAQs

Will this allow me to graduate a semester early?

It is possible that participation in the 2021 summer term could result in a student’s ability to graduate early. However, we cannot guarantee that students will be able to complete their undergraduate degrees this summer since some courses needed to graduate might not be available in the summer schedule.  

When will the summer trimester be billed?

The summer trimester will be billed on or around April 15, 2021.  Please note, billing for any and all summer sessions will start in April.  

What is the due date for the summer trimester bill?

The due date for all summer balances is May 1, 2021. 

Is the payment plan available for the summer trimester?

Yes. There will be a maximum of three installments on the summer payment plan. Please note, the installments will be due on the 5th of the month (May 5, 2021, June 5, 2021 and July 5, 2021).