Please utilize the following links to browse Southwestern Community College's Financial Aid Guide below.

Contact Individuals at SWCC

The financial aid staff at Southwestern Community College is readily available to assist enrolled or prospective students in obtaining financial aid information.  The financial aid office is located inside of the Administration Center in Creston, Iowa.  Beth Kulow, chief financial aid administrator, is designated to provide financial aid disclosure information. To contact Beth, or any member of the financial aid staff, please call 641.782.1333 or visit the office on campus.

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Definition of Financial Aid

Financial aid is money available from federal, state, institutional, and private sources used to help students meet college expenses. Financial aid can help pay for direct educational costs such as tuition, fees, and books as well as for personal living expenses such as housing, food, and transportation. Financial aid exists to assist families in paying for the costs of attending college.  Most financial aid is based on financial need.  Financial aid is credited directly to students' accounts to pay for allowable and authorized charges before any excess funds are credited to the student for personal living expenses.

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Financial Assistance Programs Available to SWCC Students

The following types of financial aid are available to eligible Southwestern students:
»    Federal Pell Grant
»    Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
»    Federal Work-Study
»    Iowa Vocational-Technical Tuition Grant
»    Kibbie Grant
»    State of Iowa Scholarship
»    Iowa Grant
»    Iowa National Guard
»    Federal Direct Loans (Subsidized, Unsubsidized)
»    Federal Parent PLUS Loans
»    All Iowa Opportunity Scholarships
»    All Iowa Opportunity Foster Care Grant
»    Southwestern Education Foundation Scholarships

A description of financial aid programs can be found in the college catalog or may be obtained in paper copy from the financial aid office.

Other Resources

The following types of financial assistance may be available to eligible Southwestern students from independent entities (eligibility is not determined by Southwestern):
»    Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services
»    Other Government/State Agency Resources
»    Other Privately-Funded Scholarships
»    Other State and Institutional Scholarships
»    Veterans Assistance (GI Bill)
»    Workers Investment Act (WIA)

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Applying for Aid

As a student at Southwestern Community College, you may be able to receive assistance with your college expenses with financial assistance in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and/or loans. Federal Student Aid programs require the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

To begin the process of applying for federal financial aid, we have compiled the necessary information to ease the process.  The financial aid office is available to help you find the assistance you need to further your education and accomplish your goals.

To apply for federal or state financial aid, a student must:

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at
  2. Identify on the FAFSA that the information entered should be sent to Southwestern Community College by indicating the school code of 001857.
  3. If selected for verification, provide a copy of federal income tax return/s for the student or parents’ (dependent students) or provide a copy of a spouse’s federal income tax return (independent students).
  4. Provide other necessary documents, if requested. 

The Financial Aid Forms page provides commonly requested forms for documentation.

NOTE:  To request IRS Tax Transcripts, please go to or call 800.908.9946.


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General Eligibility

A student must be enrolled as a regular student in an eligible program to be eligible to receive Title IV federally-funded financial aid: Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Work-Study, Federal Direct Stafford Loans (Subsidized, Unsubsidized) and Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans.

To be eligible for federal financial aid, a student must (all of the following):

  1. be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen;
  2. have a valid social security number;
  3. be enrolled at least half-time (except for Federal Pell Grant) in a program leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate at Southwestern;
  4. maintain satisfactory academic progress;
  5. be registered with Selective Service (male students between the ages of 18 and 25);
  6. not be in default on a federal student loan and not owe a refund on a federal grant;
  7. and certify that student aid funds are only for educational purposes.

To receive federal financial aid, a student must be qualified to study at the post- secondary level. Students are qualified if they have one of the following:

  1. Graduation from an accredited high school
  2. Successful completion of a high school equivalency diploma (HSED)
  3. Successful completion of a high school education in a home school setting approved under state law

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Continued Student Eligibility

A student must following the Academic Standard Policy in order to maintain academic eligibility as a student.

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Awarding Financial Aid

At the time you enroll at Southwestern, your student account will be charged with the actual costs of attendance. These direct educational costs may include tuition, fees, books, supplies, and room and board.  Student account information is available through the SWCC business office.

When awarding aid, the financial aid office will develop a cost of attendance that is an estimate of your educational expenses for your expected period of enrollment. This cost of attendance can include direct educational costs as well as indirect costs such as transportation, room and board (off-campus), personal expenses and child care (if applicable). The financial aid office will award all federal, state, and institutional aid you are eligible to receive up to this cost of attendance. Depending on your eligibility, the amount of aid awarded may exceed the actual charges on your student account, or it may not cover your entire account balance for which you are responsible. All financial aid credits directly to your student account. If you receive an award package that will not cover your actual costs of attendance and require further assistance, please contact the college's This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Terms and Conditions

Each student who receives a financial aid award package from Southwestern Community College will receive information regarding the process to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN).  There are two types of MPNs in the Direct Loan Program: one for Direct Subsidized and/or Direct Unsubsidized Loans (for students) and one for Direct PLUS Loans (for parents or for graduate or professional students). In addition to the MPN, each student who receives financial aid as a student of Southwestern Community College will receive the SWCC Conditions Statement. The SWCC Conditions Statement may be located on the Financial Aid Forms Web page.

The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a legal document in which you promise to repay your loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees to the U.S. Department of Education. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan(s); for instance, it will include information on how interest is calculated, when interest is charged, available repayment plans, and deferment and cancellation provisions.

Unless your school does not allow more than one loan to be made under the same MPN or you obtain an endorser when borrowing a Direct PLUS Loan, you can take out additional Direct Loans on a single MPN for up to 10 years.

It’s important to understand that when you sign an MPN you’re promising to repay all loans that are made under that MPN. As stated on the MPN, you must repay your loan even if
•    you don’t complete your education,
•    you can’t get a job after you leave school, and/or
•    you didn’t like the education you received.

Before—or at the time of—the first disbursement (payment to you or on your behalf) of your loan(s), you'll receive a disclosure statement that gives you information about any loan that the school plans to disburse under your MPN, including the loan amount, fees, and the expected disbursement dates and amounts.

You must sign your MPN before you receive your loan funds.

If you are taking out a Direct Loan, you must sign an MPN under any of the following circumstances:
•    You have never previously signed an MPN for the type of loan you are taking out.
•    Your school requires you to sign a new MPN each academic year (most schools don't require this).
•    You signed an MPN more than one year ago, but no loan was disbursed.
•    You signed an MPN more than 10 years ago.

For Direct PLUS Loans, if we determine that you have an adverse credit history and you obtain an endorser, you may receive only one loan under the MPN that you sign. If you later want to receive another Direct PLUS Loan, you must sign a new MPN. If you sign an MPN and receive a Direct PLUS Loan without an endorser, but are later determined to have an adverse credit history and obtain an endorser for a future Direct PLUS Loan, you’ll have to sign a new MPN for that loan.

Parent borrowers must sign a separate MPN for each student for whom they are borrowing.

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Entrance and Exit Counseling

Direct Loan Entrance Counseling provides students with their rights and responsibilities as borrowers. It is a federal regulation that entrance counseling be completed by first-time loan borrowers before any loan proceeds can be credited to a student’s account. Entrance counseling may be completed online at

Direct Loan Exit Counseling must be completed by students who are leaving Southwestern or dropping below half-time enrollment. It is a federal regulation that Southwestern provide specific loan information to students before they leave the institution, even if they will be re-enrolling at another school. Exit Counseling may be completed online at; however, your federal PIN is required to access your specific loan account information.

Student Loan Information Provided by the Department of Education

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Terms of Loans, Sample Loan Repayment Schedule, and Necessity for Repaying Loans

During the required Entrance and Exit Counseling sessions, each student will receive a copy of the terms of the loans in which they have received.  It is important to note that all loans must be repaid and the only forms of financial assistance that do not require repayment are scholarships and grants. 

The required Entrance and Exit Counseling session provides students with sample loan repayment schedules. Southwestern Community College encourages students to create a budget and ensure the financial assistance they receive is applicable within a reasonable budget.  Students who over-borrow have a tendency to become delinquent on loan repayment; thus, effecting their eligibility status to receive further federal financial aid in addition to a negative impact of their credit score. 

Paper copies of sample repayment schedules are available in the financial aid office.

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Disbursement of Aid

All financial aid administered by Southwestern, except for Federal Work-Study and other employment, will be disbursed by crediting the funds directly to students’ accounts each semester or payment period. Federal Student Aid program funds can only be credited toward allowable charges which include tuition, fees and room and board (if the student lives on-campus). Other current charges that a student has incurred for educationally-related activities may be paid with federal funds if the student has provided written authorization (in the case of PLUS funds, a parent would provide written authorization).

In order for aid to be credited to a student’s account, all required award materials must be completed and returned to the financial aid office. Federal and state aid will not be credited until class attendance has been verified and students are enrolled in the number of hours for which aid was awarded. Federal Direct Stafford Loan funds of first-time borrowers at Southwestern may not be credited until 30 days after the beginning of the first semester of enrollment. First-time student loan borrowers at Southwestern must also complete entrance counseling before loan funds can be credited. Disclosure statements from the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program indicate the disbursement dates and amounts for student and parent loans. Statements from student accounts will also include estimated aid (types and amounts of aid prior to disbursement) as well as actual disbursement information such as type of aid, amount, and date of disbursement.

Student accounts will also provide instructions on how to cancel any loans disbursed. Only aid that qualifies for a late disbursement will be credited after the semester or payment period. Information regarding specific disbursement dates for aid can be obtained from the financial aid office.

When all aid has been credited to the student account and all charges have been paid, a credit balance may occur. Credit balances will be paid to the student (or parent with a PLUS loan) via a refund check or direct deposit by the SWCC business office. Refund checks are issued on the Friday of the week in which a credit balance is generated. Students are responsible for knowing when their account balances are due, what payment options are available, and when a credit balance occurs to their account. Information concerning student accounts, educational costs, payment options and credit balances may be obtained from the business office.

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Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Students who receive federal, state, or institutional financial aid must maintain satisfactory academic progress as described below to remain eligible to receive financial aid.  All students will have their academic records reviewed following each payment period to determine if satisfactory academic progress is being made.  The financial aid office will notify students who are not making satisfactory academic progress at the end of each payment period. Each student receiving financial aid is responsible for understanding Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements as published in the college catalog.
To receive financial aid, students must be working toward a degree or certificate and must earn their degree or certification within a maximum time frame. The maximum time frame for which students may receive aid is 150 percent of the published length of the program measured in credit hours attempted. A student may receive aid for a maximum of two degree programs. Students who are granted “Academic Renewal” will not be exempt from the 150 percent time frame. All hours attempted (course repeats, withdrawals, remedial courses, transfer credits [when applicable to the enrolled program], CLEP, audited courses, credit for prior learning, and non-credit to credit) will be counted when calculating the maximum time frame allowed for the program the student is currently working toward.

For all enrolled students, satisfactory academic progress will be measured by the following:

  1. Maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA after each period of enrollment.
  2. Students must progress through their declared major at a pace of at least 67 percent. The pace at which a student is progressing is calculated by dividing the total number of hours successfully completed by the total number of hours attempted.  All hours attempted (course repeats, withdrawals, remedial courses, transfer credits [when applicable to the enrolled program], CLEP, audited courses, credit for prior learning, and non-credit to credit) will be included in calculating the pace of completion. 
  3. Course repeats and remedial courses will be included as part of the student’s enrollment load each academic period; however, the maximum time of 150 percent still applies.
  4. Credits for audited courses or credits awarded through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), credit for prior learning, or non-credit to credit evaluation will not be included as part of a student’s hours for enrollment status.
  5. All transfer credits accepted toward completion of a student’s program of study are considered hours attempted and hours completed.

Students not making satisfactory academic progress may be eligible for financial aid warning for one period of enrollment only if they are progressing towards an academic standing consistent of the graduation requirements and they meet the following criteria:

  1. A student who has a cumulative GPA of 1.25 or above may automatically receive financial aid warning for the following period of enrollment if the student has not received financial aid warning previously.
  2. A student who is progressing at a pace less than 67 percent may automatically receive financial aid warning for the following period of enrollment if the student has not received financial aid warning previously.

Students who show zero progress during a semester, due to all F's, W’s and/or I’s will have their financial aid cancelled for the following period of enrollment and will be denied financial aid until satisfactory academic progress has been made or financial eligibility is regained.

Financial aid eligibility may be regained by one of the following:

  1. The student may enroll for a term, or terms, without receiving financial aid until such a time as satisfactory academic progress has been regained. Satisfactory academic progress will be regained when the cumulative grade point average is 2.0 and the student has regained a completion pace of 67 percent.
  2. The student may provide written notification that incompletes have been completed and the grades turned in to student services within a timely manner. Satisfactory academic progress will be re-evaluated at that time; financial aid will not be reinstated until this is done.
  3. The student may appeal in writing to the Financial Aid Review Committee and may be granted financial aid probation, for one term only, if approved by the majority of the committee. In the appeal, the student must explain the reason for the failure to meet satisfactory academic progress and also state how he/she plans to improve. The appeal should be based on extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control, i.e. death in the family, extended illness, change in employment, etc.; the Financial Aid Committee may request documentation supporting these circumstances before the final determination.  Appeals will not be granted for the same extenuating circumstance twice. The committee has the option to develop an academic plan for the student to follow. Academic plans will be monitored. If the student is no longer meeting the terms of the academic plan financial aid will be canceled. Academic plans are not considered probation. The Financial Aid Review Committee will consider each student on an individual basis. The decision of the Financial Aid Review Committee is final.
Appeal deadlines for the 2016-17 academic year are as follows:
  • Fall 2016 - August 18, 2016;
  • Spring 2017 - January 12, 2017;
  • Summer 2017 - May 30, 2017.

Federal student aid program regulations do not provide for academic amnesty or renewal procedures that allow students to apply to have credits attempted and grades earned in previous semesters excluded from the calculation of the student’s grade point average. Southwestern Community College will always include courses that apply (whenever taken) toward a student’s program of study.

High school students who have taken college-level courses for credit through Southwestern as “post-secondary” students will have a transcript record. At the time these students enroll as traditional students and apply for federal/state aid, the students’ transcript will be evaluated, based on the current program enrolled in and credit hours applicable to the program, to determine Satisfactory Academic Progress status. Students who have cumulative grade point averages below the required levels will be placed on warning and will be allowed to have federal/state aid during their first semester of enrollment. These students will be notified of their status; they may also receive additional individual guidance to successfully meet the satisfactory academic progress standards at the end of the semester.

Definitions of Financial Aid Warning and Financial Aid Probation

Financial Aid Warning:   Status assigned to students who fail to make SAP.  Students may continue to receive Title IV aid for one payment period.  No appeal is necessary.

Financial Aid Probation: Status assigned to a student who fails to make SAP and who has appealed and has had eligibility to receive Title IV aid reinstated. The student may receive aid for one payment period and the Financial Aid Review Committee may impose conditions for the student’s continued eligibility. Probation can only be given if the committee can see that the student can make SAP at the end of the next payment period.

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Adjustment of Awards

Students will be awarded grants, loans, and work-study based on need and enrollment status (full-time, three-quarter, half-time, or less than half-time).  If a student drops or adds a class before aid has been disbursed and this results in a change in the student’s enrollment status, the student’s aid will be decreased or increased accordingly.  After aid has been disbursed, or the end of the business office’s refund period (whichever occurs later), no reductions in aid awards will be made unless a student ceases attendance or never begins attendance in a class.

If students begin classes with a start date later than the first day of the semester, awards will be increased, if possible, to reflect the increased enrollment. All financial aid awards are subject to change pending the final notification of funds available to Southwestern for federal and state aid programs. Awards may be adjusted, as well, if the student receives additional resources and it necessitates a change in the student’s award packet. SWCC assumes no liability for reductions in other types of public assistance due to financial aid received.

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Course Repeats

If a student repeats a course they have passed during their first attempt, student financial aid may be used for a second attempt; however, financial aid cannot be used beyond a second attempt when a student has previously received a passing letter grade. Student financial aid may be used to repeat courses that have previously been failed. Exception: If a student is enrolled in a group of courses and they fail a course(s) in the group, and the program requires the student to retake the entire group of courses, financial aid may only be used to retake the course(s) failed, and cannot be used on any of the other courses in the group that were  passed.

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Attendance Policy

Institutional policy requires that attendance be monitored before federal and state aid be released to students’ accounts. Southwestern Community College reserves the right to withhold financial aid at any time from any student who demonstrates an attendance pattern that abuses the receipt of financial assistance or fails to maintain academic progress.

If a student demonstrates poor attendance for an extended period of time without the approval of a faculty member, it may result in the loss of financial aid funds.  Students are only able to receive financial assistance while they are attending their courses; therefore, a last date of attendance will be determined for a student who stops attending class and a refund formula will be used to determine the amount of financial aid the student was eligible to receive during the period of attendance.  The U.S. Department of Education and federal aid programs will receive the appropriate refund of financial assistance using the Return of Title IV Funds Policy.  State aid programs administered by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission will receive the appropriate refund of state funds using our institutional refund policy.  Students will be notified if they owe money back to a federal or state financial aid program or to Southwestern, if funds have been returned by Southwestern on the student’s behalf to the appropriate aid program(s).

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Return of Title IV Funds

This information is being provided to prospective students in accordance with federal consumer information regulations. These regulations implement statutory changes made to the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), by the Higher Education Amendments of 1998 for the treatment of Title IV HEA program funds when a student withdraws from Southwestern Community College.

Southwestern Community College’s refund policy exists for calculating the refund of institutional and state charges. The federal “Return of Title IV Funds” policy dictates the amount of Federal Title IV aid that must be returned to the federal government by the school and the student. The federal formula is applicable to a student receiving any type of federal aid, other than Federal Work-Study, if that student does not complete 60 percent of the payment period.

The federal formula requires a return of Title IV aid if the student received federal financial assistance in the form of a Pell Grant, Academic Competitiveness Grant, National SMART Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Direct Stafford Subsidized, Unsubsidized, Parent PLUS or PLUS Loan (Graduate Student) and does not complete 60 percent of the payment period. The percentage of Title IV aid to be returned is equal to the number of calendar days not completed the payment period divided by the number of total calendar days in the payment period; scheduled breaks of more than four consecutive days are excluded.

If any non-federal funds are to be returned in addition to the Title IV aid, then they will be used to repay Southwestern Community College funds, state funds, other private sources, and the student. The student will receive funds in proportion to the amount received from each non-federal source, as long as there was no unpaid student account balance before any funds are returned to the students.

The Return of Title IV Funds requires a return of funds in the following order:
1.    Unsubsidized Direct Stafford Loan
2.    Subsidized Direct Stafford Loan
3.    Direct PLUS Loan (Parent)
4.    Pell Grant
5.    Federal SEOG
6.    Other Title IV programs (does not include Federal Work-Study)

NOTE: If funds are released to a student because of a credit balance on the student’s account, then the student may be required to repay a portion of the federal funds to the federal program or to Southwestern Community College for any federal funds returned on the student’s behalf to the federal programs. Worksheets used to determine the Return of Title IV aid are available upon request from the financial aid office.  Please contact the Southwestern Community College financial aid office for further information regarding these policies.

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Code of Conduct for Loans

SWCC Institutional Code of Conduct for Education Loans

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Preferred Lender Lists

Southwestern Community College does not promote any outside lenders. Students are advised to seek private fund sources if needed on their own. Therefore, Southwestern Community College does not provide a preferred list.

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Preferred Lender Arrangements

Southwestern Community College does not promote any outside lenders. Students are advised to seek private fund sources if needed on their own.

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Books and Supplies Policy

Financial aid can be used to purchase books and supplies through the SWCC Shoppe (bookstore). If the student billing statement shows that the student has been awarded financial aid (grants, scholarships and loans) and the student account reflects a credit balance, the student may obtain a charge slip issued from the Business Office and take it along with the billing statement to the SWCC Shoppe.  The student will be allowed to charge books to the student account for up to the amount of the credit. If the billing statement does not show a credit balance, the student may not be able to charge books on the student account and will need to check with the financial aid and business offices. Students may charge books to their student account until the deadline of a week prior to aid disbursement each term. Students should check with the Business Office regarding the last day a student can receive a charge slip for books and supplies.

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Higher Education Tax Benefits

Higher education tax incentives are available to students and families to help reduce the overall cost of a college education. (The attached information is intended for educational purposes and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Please consult with a tax advisor or attorney for more information regarding higher education tax benefits or refer to IRS Publication 970 on Tax Benefits for Education.)

Study Abroad

Southwestern Community College does not approve programs of study abroad.

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