Q. How do I apply for financial aid?
A. To apply for federal financial aid, you must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov. You will need to list Southwestern College as your school in order for us to process your application. After you submit your FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) that summarizes the information you provided on your FAFSA. Please review your SAR carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete. More information about submitting the FAFSA can be found at http://studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa/filling-out
After your file is forwarded to Southwestern College from the Department of Education, you will receive an email from us telling you know which documents we need to process your financial aid. IMPORTANT – if you have attended any colleges other than SWC, you must be sure that have official transcripts sent to the Admissions and Records Office (they cannot be hand carried) from your prior school. Missing or incomplete transcripts will delay the processing of your aid.
The best time to apply is from January 1 – March 2 of each year, which entitles eligible students for a priority consideration for CalGrants.
Q. What is the Title IV School Code for Southwestern College?
A. Southwestern College’s code is 001294.
Q. How do I know if my FAFSA was received and is being processed?
A. The SAR and emails from SWC are your verification that your application has been received and is being processed. If yu do not receive a SAR, you can call 800-433-3243 to verify it has been sent, request a copy or to add a school to your FAFSA.
Q. How long does it take to find out if I’m eligible and what I’ll be receiving?
A. The application and awarding process for federal aid can take several months. After you submit your application, SWC must receive the file from the Department of Education and then we will email you to let you know the documents that you will be required to provide. After you submit the required documentation, your application must then be queued for reviewed by one of our staff and, then run through a multi-stage verification process which includes determining if you are currently meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress. If awarded, you would then be scheduled for payment. Due to an increasing number of students applying for financial aid - we will receive more than 20,000 FAFSA applications for the 2013-14 year – this can be a long process.
Incomplete or incorrect information, requiring multiple staff reviews or corrections sent to CPS, will definitely delay processing. Please monitor your email so you can respond to all requests quickly by submitting complete and correct information which will help us process your application as quickly as possible.
Q. I called FAFSA and they said I was processed. Why aren't you giving me my money?
A. Submitting your application and receiving a SAR is just the first step. Once your application has been processed by CPS and sent by Southwestern College, you will receive an email request for documents. It is your responsibility to submit all documents necessary to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Once all documents have been submitted, the Financial Aid Department will review your file and submit corrections if necessary. If eligible, you will receive a financial aid award notification. This will direct you to your online award letter indicating your financial aid awards.
Q. FAFSA already has all my information, so why does the Financial Aid Department keep asking me for more documents?
A. The Financial Aid Department is required by federal law to ensure compliance with all regulations. We are required to make sure all information on the financial aid applications is accurate. When a financial aid technician reviews your file, they may be required to question information or ask for further clarification. This does not mean your information was incorrect. When you submit requested documentation or written statements to the office, your file will be reviewed and may elicit the need for further clarification or additional requests for documentation. You should ensure you submit complete documentation to prevent repeated visits to the Financial Aid Department.
Q. I never get anything in the mail from the Financial Aid Department. How am I supposed to know when I get my money?
A. The Financial Aid Department will do all communication via email. We will let you know what items you need to submit to complete your financial aid application, your eligibility, if eligible, and the approximate disbursement date of your financial aid. If you do not check your email, or you have a different email address on file with Southwestern College, you will never know what you need to do to complete your financial aid file or when you might receive financial aid funds. Also, make sure your email is not sending our correspondence to your SPAM file or automatically deleting our messages!
Q. Why would my FAFSA application need to be corrected?
A. Every file that comes through the Financial Aid Department has to be reviewed for accuracy. If you have made errors on your FAFSA application, you need to correct them. Once you have made the corrections and submitted it to the Central Processing System (CPS) we will receive updated application information. If you do not correct your application and you submit verification documentation to the Financial Aid Department, we will use your tax return and other documents to verify, and if necessary correct the errors. THIS TAKES TIME AND WILL DELAY YOUR APPLICATION. Once corrections are transmitted and CPS has processed the new information, you will receive an email informing you that corrections have been made to your FAFSA data and that the corrected/updated application data has been sent to Southwestern College. Your application then has to be re-reviewed by the financial aid technicians to verify that the new, corrected FAFSA data fully reflects the corrected data. Filling out your FAFSA correctly the first time will speed the processing of your aid!
Q. I received an email from the FAFSA processor saying that corrections have been made to my application, but I did not change anything. What does this mean?
A. We make corrections on your behalf based upon the verification documentation you present to our office, i.e., Dependent/Independent Verification Worksheet, Federal Tax Returns (w-2's, schedules, 1099's, etc), Asset Information Worksheet, Clarification of Low Income-Dependent/Independent, and any other written information submitted. We will correct your FAFSA to reflect the verified information and any corrections sent to the CPS and returned to Southwestern College will be reviewed again for accuracy. If you receive a notice regarding a change to your FAFSA, please stop by our office first so we can see if we originated the change.
Q. My award letter stated that I was supposed to receive $5645, so how come I only received $1388 this semester?
A. Your award letter will give you your annual award and term amounts. A $5645 Pell grant is a maximum eligible annual award for the 2013-14 academic year. This means you would receive $2823 per semester if you were enrolled full time for a maximum of two semesters. Pell Grant is prorated based on your enrollment status, so if you received $1411 it means you were enrolled half-time for that term.
Q. I defaulted on my student loan. What can I do to fix the problem?
A. To determine what options are available to you, contact your loan holder right away. If you do not know who holds your loan(s), go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at 800-433-3243 or online at www.nslds.ed.gov
Q. I have a Bachelor’s degree but am returning to Southwestern College to get training for a new field. Am I eligible for financial aid?
A. No, you are not eligible for federal financial aid at Southwestern College. However, you may be eligible for the BOG Fee Waiver (which covers enrollment fees and is based on need) or scholarships.
Q. I’m attending two different schools at the same time. Can I receive financial aid at both?
A. No. Federal regulations limit students to receiving aid at only one school per term, regardless of how many schools you may be attending. Do not accept funds from more than one school at a time.
Q. What do I need to do if I will be transferring to another school next semester?
A. You must add you new school onto your FAFSA application, otherwise, your new school will never receive your information. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. Generally, getting your financial aid file completed at most institutions takes a minimum of several months to process. Just because FAFSA has your new school listed on your application does not mean you have been awarded financial aid.
Q. If I was already processed at another school this past semester, why is it going to take longer to receive my financial aid here?
A. Each college is responsible for determining the eligibility of every financial aid applicant based on both Federal and State regulations. Although you may now have added Southwestern College to your FAFSA application, your financial aid file is not complete until you have submitted all required documentation, and your file has been reviewed and corrected (if necessary). This process generally takes a number of weeks due to the growing number of financial aid applicants applying for aid at Southwestern College.
Q. Do I need a high school diploma to receive financial aid?
A. Yes, you are required to have a valid high school diploma, or a federally-accepted equivalent, because students are required to be qualified to study at the postsecondary level. The following items fulfill this requirement:
• Valid high school diploma
• GED certificate
• State accepted verification of school schooling
• Foreign high school diploma with evaluation for accepted agency verifying equivalency to US high school diploma
For students who enrolled and declared an acceptable major prior to July 1, 2012 ONLY, the following items can also be accepted:
• Passing grade on ability-to-benefit test
• 6 units of degree-applicable college courses with passing grade (taken prior to July 1, 2012)
Q. Do I need to be a full-time student (enrolled in 12 units or more) to receive financial aid?
A. Not necessarily. Different types of financial aid have different eligibility requirements, including enrollment status. For example, Pell grants require a minimum enrollment level of 3 units (or less than half-time), CalGrants require a minimum of 6 enrolled units and Student loans require a minimum of 6 enrolled units.
Q. What d I do if my financial situation changed from last year to this year, e.g., unemployment, marriage, divorce, childbirth, etc, has changed and is impacting my current finances?
A. If you or your parents (if you are a dependent student) financial situation has changed significantly, you should meet with a Financial Aid Specialist during walk-in hours to review your financial situation.
Q. What happens if I drop or fail a class after I already received my financial aid money?
A. If you withdraw from your courses after you have received financial aid, you may be required to repay all or part of it to Southwestern College. Therefore, it is important to enroll in a manageable unit load that allows you to successfully complete all your courses. Please see “Withdrawals and Return of Federal Financial Aid Funds” on our website and in the Financial Aid Student Guide for more information.
Q. When do I apply for next semester's (spring) financial aid or BOGFW?
A. If you have already applied for your fall aid through FAFSA or completed the BOGFW application, your spring aid is a continuation of this process. You do not need a new application for the spring term. Financial aid is an annual application and follows an academic calendar (fall, spring and summer semesters), not your regular yearly calendar.
Q. Do I have file a FAFSA and BOGFW applications for every academic year?
A. Yes. FAFSA applications are available in January of the new academic year (for example FAFSA applications for 2014-15 will be available in January 2014) and BOGFW applications are available n April of the new academic year. Links for both are available on our website at www.swccd.edu/financialaid
Q. Can I get enough financial aid to be able to quit my job and go to school full-time?
A. Probably not. Financial aid is intended to supplement your current income, not to replace it, and is meant to be used for those additional expenses associated with going to school – books, supplies, enrollment and tuition fees, transportation, child care, etc.).