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What is financial aid?

Financial aid is money provided to help bridge the gap between your own resources and the amount needed to pay for the cost of attending college. The primary responsibility for meeting the cost of a college education rests with the student and family to the extent they are able to pay. A formula established by the U.S. Congress takes into accounts your family income and assets to determine this ability. Grants, loans, scholarships, college work-study are just some of the types of aid offered by Southwestern.

Who should apply?

Everyone! The only way to determine your eligibility to receive financial aid funds is to apply for it. File your FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 to receive priority processing.

If you filed a FAFSA for the last academic year, you can renew your FAFSA online by going to www.fafsa.ed.gov and clicking on "Fill out a Renewal FAFSA."

Am I eligible for financial aid?

For specific eligibility requirements, you may view the Federal Student Guide at www.studentaid.ed.gov or obtain a copy from the SWCC financial aid office. In general, to be eligible for financial aid, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, or eligible non-citizen.
  • Have a high school diploma, GED, or its recognized equivalent.
  • Be enrolled in a diploma or degree program.
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Not be in default of a federal or state student loan, nor owe a repayment on any federal grant.
  • Meet requirements specific to the financial aid program for which the student is applying.
  • Register for the Selective Service, if required
How much money do I need to go to school?

While there is not a set amount, you may want to consider the cost of direct school expenses, tuition, books and related supplies, everyday living expenses, housing, food, clothing and entertainment.

Will you work while going to college? Most students work at least part-time. As you look at your class schedule, calculate the amount of time you can work and estimate how much you will be able to earn while attending college.

Will there be grant money available if I apply late?

Pell grant money and student loans will be available. State-funded grants have a filing deadline and campus-based funds are limited. The sooner you apply, the greater your chances for receiving all sources of aid, if you are eligible.

Am I eligible for as much money if I have a BA degree?

Students who have a degree are not able to receive federal grant dollars. They may be considered for federal work-study and student loans, however.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This considers you for federal- and state-funded aid. Applying for scholarships is done more on an individual basis. Southwestern has scholarship information available through the Education Foundation, but you should also do your own research on other scholarships.

Must I be accepted for admission before I apply for financial aid?

No. You may apply for financial aid any time after October 1 for the coming academic year. Before any money is disbursed, you must be admitted to an eligible Program of Study and registered for a stated number of credits.

How long does it take to process a FAFSA if it is filed electronically versus mailed?

If you file electronically, you will receive a response in 3-5 business days. If you mail your application, it can take up three to four weeks to receive a response. Please note that if you do not provide a signature on your FAFSA, your processing will be delayed two weeks.

When is the deadline to apply for financial aid?

To be eligible for federal aid, you must submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the Central Processor by the deadline printed on the FAFSA. For the 2016-2017 award year that date is June 30, 2017. SWCC does not publish an additional (more restrictive) deadline. Iowa residents who wish to be considered for state vocational/technical grants must submit their FAFSA or Renewal Application to the processor by July 1st proceeding your anticipated term of enrollment. For the 2016-2017 award year that date is July 1, 2016.

Why do I have to provide parent information?

Parent information is used because the U.S. Congress has stated that families have the primary responsibility of funding a college education. Parent information is not necessary if you are independent.

What is Southwestern's (SWCC) school code?

The SWCC school code is 001857.

What is an SAR and when will I receive one?

After the U.S. Department of Education processes your application, you will be sent a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR outlines the information you provided on the FAFSA and reports your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is then used to determine your eligibility for federal student aid. The results are sent to you and the schools you listed on your application.

If it's been more than six weeks since you submitted your application and you haven't received anything, you can check on the status of your application at FAFSA on the Web or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1.800.4.FED.AID (1.800.433.3243).

What do I need to do after I receive my SAR?

If there are no corrections needed (make sure Southwestern is listed as your college) keep the paper for future reference. If you need to make corrections, sign the signature block before you send in the corrections. You can send your corrections to Southwestern and we will make the corrections for you.

What do I do if my financial aid is not processed before my tuition bill is due?

Visit with the SWCC business office to set up a payment plan.  The business office will be willing to work with you to set up payments until your financial aid is processed.

Why haven't I been awarded financial aid yet?

These are some of the most common reasons why you may not have received your offer of financial aid:

  • You did not list Southwestern's school code (001857) when you completed your FAFSA. You can return to the FAFSA on the Web by visiting www.fafsa.ed.gov, log-in using your FSA ID Username and password, and add Southwestern. Or you can call 1.800.4.FED.AID to request that Southwestern receive your FAFSA results.
  • You may have forgotten to sign your FAFSA form (paper or Web-based). You can sign electronically with your FSA ID Username and password at www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you can't remember your FSA ID Username and password, you can go to https://fsaid.ed.gov/npas/index.htm and click on "Edit my FSA ID" and then click on forgot Username and forgot Password.
  • We require additional documentation that has not been provided yet.
  • You have not activated your student loans.
  • The financial aid office has not had enough time to determine your eligibility. This may take four to six weeks during peak processing times (March-October for the fall and spring semesters and April-June for summer terms).
  • You may have a HOLD on your account. Students must resolve any holds before receiving an offer of financial aid.
I just want a loan. Do I have to fill out the FAFSA?

Yes. The application is for both grant and/or loan eligibility.

Why do I have to answer question 23 about drug convictions?

Under Federal law, some students who have drug related convictions may be ineligible for federal student aid. For help on answering question 23 on the FAFSA, please call 800.433.3243 or go to www.fafsa.ed.gov for guidance.

I am separated/divorced. Should I include my ex-spouse's information on the FAFSA?

No. Use your income only. We may request documents when finalizing your file.

My ex-spouse has custody of the children, but I pay child support. Can I include my children on the FAFSA?

You may include them if you provide more than 50 percent of the child/children's support.

My spouse/parent passed away during the tax year. Do I include that income on the FAFSA?

No. If the person has passed away, you do not provide that income information on the application.

I am getting married in two months. Can I say I'm married on the FAFSA?

No. Report your status as of the time you fill out the application.

I can't find my tax returns. What can I do?

You can call the I.R.S. and request a copy of your tax account information. Call 800.829.1040.

I am considered a dependent student and my parents won't provide financial information - can I still fill out the FAFSA?

Yes, but it would be easier to have parent information. You might make them aware they would not be responsible for any loans you incur as the loans would be in your name.  If there is no contact with your parents, perhaps there is a counselor or someone who knows the situation and would be willing to write a letter to the SWCC financial aid office to document this fact.  In any case, you should contact a financial aid advisor for more assistance.

I used the IRS Data Retrieval on my FAFSA, and my untaxed pension or untaxed IRA distribution rollover was incorrectly brought forward. What do I do?

Do not change the data imported into the FAFSA. Submit a copy of your 1099-R along with a signed statement with student name and k number to the Financial Aid office. The 1099-R is necessary to confirm that the amount is a rollover. With this documentation, we will remove the rollover amount from the FAFSA.

Do I have to apply for financial aid every semester?

No, just once per academic year.

Which application do I use for summer (May-August) term?

Our academic year covers FALL, SPRING, & SUMMER terms in that order (Example: Fall of 2015 and Spring and Summer of 2016 make up one academic year). Thus, per our example, you would use the 2015-2016 FAFSA.

Can I enroll without an award?

You can enroll without an award if you are able to make full payment on your own. If you pay in full and receive an award later, a check will be mailed to you.

I have enrolled at less than full-time status (12+ credits). How does this affect my financial aid award?

The amounts of your award could be adjusted based upon the credits you are enrolled in.  This table will help you determine your status and how your budget and awards could be affected.

FULL TIME (12+ CREDITS)=100%
THREE-QUARTER TIME (9-11 CREDITS)=75%
HALF TIME (6-8 CREDITS)=50%
LESS THAN HALF TIME (5- CREDITS)=25%

When will I receive my refund check?

Refund checks are processed approximately 30 days after the start of the semester.  If you have not signed up for direct deposit, a paper check will be printed and ready for you to pick up.  Please check the academic calendar for when refunds will be issued.

How much income can I have and still qualify for grants?  Why don't I qualify for Federal Pell Grant?

There is not a set dollar amount that determines whether a student receives financial aid. Most of the data requested on the FAFSA is used in a formula created by the federal government to calculate eligibility. Some of the major factors are: household size, number in college, age of parents, income and assets information. A simple formula calculation is available. You can input your information and receive a calculation that explains how the data was used to arrive at the rate of eligibility. The calculation also estimates whether you will receive a Pell Grant.

I am not sure my family will have financial need.  Should I complete the FAFSA?

Yes. Financial aid is intended both to remove financial barriers for families who cannot afford the cost of an education beyond high school and to fill in the gap for families who can afford only part of the cost.

What is a Pell Grant?

The Pell Grant is a federal form of need-based financial aid and does not have to be repaid. Applicants must be undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's degree. Each applicant must be a U.S. citizen, or an eligible noncitizen, and needs to have a high school diploma or a GED or to demonstrate the ability to benefit from the program.

The amount of the grant depends on both the student's EFC and several other factors. These factors are the student's cost of attendance (tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and so on) and the amount of time the student attends school (whether the student goes to school for a full academic year or less and whether the student is full-time or part-time). An eligible part-time student can receive a Pell Grant. The amount awarded, however, will be less than for a full-time student. An applicant may receive only one Pell Grant in an award year and may not receive Pell Grant funds from more than one school at a time.

What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans?

With the Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan, no interest accumulates while the student is enrolled in school because the government is subsidizing it during the deferment period. Interest begins to accumulate after the six month grace period that begins once the student graduates or drops below half time enrollment. With the Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan, interest accumulates immediately after the loan is disbursed. The student will be billed quarterly while attending school. If the student does not pay the interest, it will be deferred. However, we recommend student pay the interest on unsubsidized loans because if they do not, they will owe more than they received as the interest is capitalized (added to the principal).

How much can my parents borrow on a PLUS Loan?

The formula for determining the maximum dollar amount is the cost of the attendance minus the financial aid received. Check with the SWCC financial aid office and they will do the calculation for you.

I have never borrowed federal student loans from SWCC before.  Is there anything else I need to complete before my loans get processed?

As a new borrower at SWCC, you will need to complete entrance counseling and fill out an Electronic Master Promissory Note as required by the U.S. Department of Education. To complete this process you will need to visit www.studentloans.gov.  First time Federal Direct Loan borrowers at SWCC will have to wait 30 days from the beginning of the term before loan funds are released.

Why did I not receive the full amount of student loan money that I requested?

Federal regulations require that all student loans must be disbursed to the school in two installments. If you are enrolled for both the fall and spring semester, you will receive half of your loan amount in the fall and the other half in the spring. However, if you are only enrolled for one semester you will receive the first disbursement as soon as we can process your loan and the second disbursement will be received after the mid-point of the semester.

Does financial aid cover the cost of books?

Financial aid can be used to purchase your books. If your billing statement shows that you have been awarded financial aid (grants, scholarships and loans) and you have a credit balance on your statement then you can take the billing statement and charge slip to the SWCC Shoppe (bookstore) and they will let you charge books to your student account for the amount of your credit. If your billing statement does not show a credit balance then you will need to check with the financial aid office before you can charge books.

Do I have to reapply for financial aid if I transfer to another school at semester?

You do not have to reapply, but dollar amounts do not transfer from school to school due to varying tuition cost. Check with the school you are transferring to about having your current year FAFSA information sent to them.

Can I receive financial aid at more than one school at the same time?

No. You may only receive financial aid from one school at a time. If you are enrolled at two schools, the school from which you are receiving your degree will process your financial aid.

I was selected by the processing center to have my FAFSA information verified. What does “verification” mean?

If you were selected for verification, we are required to obtain certain documentation before we can complete your award. We will be requesting a copy of your, and your parent's (if dependent), Federal Tax Return Transcript (1040, etc.), which can be ordered free of charge from the IRS (see above). We do not need your state and city income tax returns, unless otherwise requested. We will also need a Federal Verification Worksheet completed which will be mailed to you. Additional documents may be requested to complete verification of aid eligibility.

I'm currently in default on my student loans. Can I get financial aid?

If you are in default on a federal student loan, you are not eligible for any federal or state financial aid. You must make satisfactory payment arrangements with the Department of Education to regain eligibility for aid. You must present the SWCC financial aid office with official notification from the Department of Education that you are no longer in default in order to receive aid.