Financial Aid FAQ

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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 account 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.

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 on or after October 1 to receive priority processing.

If you filed a FAFSA for the last academic year, you can renew your FAFSA online by going to and clicking on "Renew my FAFSA."

For specific eligibility requirements, you may view the Federal Student Guide at 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, HSED/GED, or its recognized equivalent.
  • Be enrolled in a diploma or degree program.
  • Be making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP).
  • Meet requirements specific to the financial aid program for which the student is applying.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • To be eligible for federal aid, you must submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the deadline printed on the FAFSA. For the 2023-24 award year that date is June 30, 2024. 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 1 proceeding your anticipated term of enrollment. For the 2023-24 award year that date is July 1, 2023.
  • 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 an independent student.
  • The SWCC school code is 001857.
  • 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 or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1.800.4.FED.AID (1.800.433.3243).
  • If there are no corrections needed (make sure Southwestern is listed as your college) keep the paper for future reference.
  • 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.

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, log-in using your FSA ID Username and password, and add Southwestern. Or you can call 800.433.3243 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 If you can't remember your FSA ID Username and password, you can go to and click on "Help me log in to my account" and then click on forgot Username and forgot Password.
  • We require additional documentation that has not been provided yet.
  • You have not accepted 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.
  • The application is for both grant and/or loan eligibility.
  • Use your income only. We may request documents when finalizing your file.
  • You may include them if you provide more than 50 percent of the child/children's support.
  • If the person has passed away, you do not provide that income information on the application.
  • Report your status as of the time you fill out the application.
  • 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.

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.

No, just once per academic year.

Our academic year covers Fall, Spring, & Summer terms in that order. (Example: Fall of 2022 and Spring and Summer of 2023 make up one academic year). Thus, per our example, you would use the 2022-2023 FAFSA.

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.

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 percent
Three-Quarter Time (9-11 credits) = 75 percent
Half Time (6-8 credits) = 50 percent
Less Than Half Time (5- credits) = 25 percent

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.

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.

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.

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 an HiSET/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.

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).

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.

As a new borrower at SWCC, you will need to complete entrance counseling and fill out an electronic Master Promissory Note (MPN) as required by the U.S. Department of Education. To complete this process you will need to visit  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.

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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

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 (1040). 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.