Tuition-Free Ninth SemesterOffice of the Registrar

In Fall 2020, Gustavus announced a tuition-free ninth semester option for eligible students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


To be eligible for the Gustavus Tuition-Free Ninth Semester, students must:

  • Be a student who was enrolled full-time at Gustavus throughout the 2020-21 academic year. (Full-time enrollment at Gustavus means students enroll in at least 3.0 credits in each of the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters.) 
  • Have completed their eighth semester of undergraduate education at Gustavus while enrolled as a full-time student (i.e., at least 3.0 credits).
  • Hold a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or above.
  • Not be suspended for any academic or disciplinary reason throughout their time at Gustavus.
  • Complete the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester in the academic year directly following the completion of their eighth semester of undergraduate education. Students whose eighth semester is a fall semester may complete their ninth semester in the spring of the same academic year or the fall of the following academic year.
  • Only courses required to fulfill graduation requirements will be covered by the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester. Students are responsible for the cost of any other courses that are not required to fulfill the graduation requirements during the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester. Students will be charged the regular tuition fee for credits that are not approved for the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester.
  • The Tuition-Free Ninth Semester only covers tuition. Students are responsible for fees, room, and meals.
  • Only one Gustavus Tuition-Free Ninth Semester will be approved.

Additional Guidelines

  • During the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester, students are only eligible to enroll in courses required for undergraduate degree completion unless special approval is granted.
  • Students must complete the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester on campus. (Study away programs, off-campus internships, and other off-campus experiential learning opportunities that are not required for undergraduate degree completion may be completed in earlier semesters but are not available during the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester.)
  • Students have the option of completing their ninth-semester degree-completion courses during either the fall, January Term, or spring semester.
  • Students must follow the general education and graduation requirements of the current Challenge Curriculum (i.e., the curriculum which went into effect in Fall 2020).
  • Students must complete the Ninth Semester Request Form and recieve approval from the Office of the Provost.


  • Students interested in the program must discuss graduation requirements and degree progress with their academic advisor.
  • Students are responsible for ensuring that the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester courses are courses that are required for degree completion.

Financial Aid and Cost Information

  • Gustavus will be covering the full cost of tuition for the courses needed to complete an undergraduate degree in the ninth semester, minus any other federal, state or institutional grant/scholarships the student qualifies for that semester.
  • Students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for their ninth semester.
  • Any fees, room and board charges, or other costs incurred will be charged directly to the student at the standard rates. (Note: On-campus residence is not a requirement.)
  • Federal loan eligibility requires part-time attendance. Please note, federal student loan programs have aggregate loan limits. Consult with the Office of Financial Aid to determine your eligibility.
  • Students enrolled in the Gustavus Tuition-Free Ninth Semester program that choose to enroll in a January Term will be charged the regular rate, unless they use the J-Term as their ninth semester and recieve pre-approval from the Provost's Office.

January Term and the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester

If you are eligible for the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester, you may select to use your eligibility for January Term instead of a Fall or Spring semester, within one year of completion of your 8th semester at Gustavus.

For students who have utilized the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester program in either the Fall or will in the Spring semester, you may register for a January Term course. Although enrollment for 9th semester students in January Term will not be included in the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester program, we want to keep this opportunity affordable and available to you. Therefore, the January Term course rate for students participating in the Gustavus Tuition-Free Ninth Semester program (in either the Fall or the Spring semester) is approximately 60% of the part-time course rate of the regular semester. For January 2024, this rate is $3,150. 

Athletic Eligibility

  • Student-athletes may take advantage of the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester but need to pay special attention to NCAA regulations and athletic eligibility requirements. The NCAA Division III manual outlines policies regarding student-athlete eligibility.
  • Gustavus student-athletes considering the Tuition-Free Ninth Semester should contact their coach or the Director of Athletics to discuss eligibility.
  • Spring semester athletes may utilize the Tuition-Fee Ninth Semester to compete in their fifth year, but additional eligibility requirements may need to be met.

Approval Process

Final approval and eligibility for the program is determined by the Office of the Provost. Interested students should complete the request form during the seventh or eighth semester of undergraduate education. The last day for request submission is the first day of classes of the Tuition-Fee Ninth Semester request. 

Updated November 10, 2023