Credit and Graduation Requirements

Swarthmore College policies on financial aid eligibility, required number of credits each semester, and time limits on aid consideration

Financial Aid

The following long-standing policies are stated in the "Swarthmore College Bulletin" and in the "Swarthmore College Financial Aid Handbook" (please note that Financial Aid refers to Swarthmore College scholarship):

  • "Financial aid is available only during a normal-length undergraduate program (eight semesters) and only if a student earns 4 credits each semester and makes satisfactory academic progress".
  • "Satisfactory academic progress, full-time enrollment, and 4 credits earned each semester are required of all aid recipients."
  • "AP credits may act as prerequisites for entry to some courses or may be counted toward the total credits needed for graduation, but AP credits are not considered in the rule that aided students must earn at least 4 credits every semester."
  • "You can be considered for our support during a normal-length program of 8 semesters only."

These policies are in place to ensure that your eligibility for Swarthmore College financial aid will not be interrupted.

Some frequently asked questions about these topics:

1.  Q.  "I want to double major/I changed majors and will need an additional semester to fit in all the extra credits.  May I be considered for aid during that 9th semester?"
A
.  No.  The College will consider you for our scholarship during a normal-length program of 8 semesters only.  You'll need to plan ahead to fit your program into just 8 semesters.

2.  Q. "I changed majors and will need an additional semester to fit in all the extra credits. May I be considered for financial aid during that 9th semester?"
A.  No.  The College will consider you for our scholarship during a normal-length program of 8 semesters only.  You'll need to plan ahead to fit your program into just 8 semesters.

3.  Q.  "I transferred into Swarthmore after a year at another school.  Are those 2 semesters at the other school included in the total 8 semesters of a 'normal-length program' at Swarthmore?"
A.  Yes, the semesters you attended another school are included in the 8 semester limit.   Transfer students are advised by our registrar before entry about how many credits have transferred and how many credits are still needed for a Swarthmore degree.  Transfer students will need to plan carefully to fit in all they want out of Swarthmore within the allowed time.

4.  Q.  "Are you saying that I'm entitled to 8 semesters of financial aid?
A
.  No, no, you are entitled to scholarship consideration during 8 semesters--there's a difference! 

5.  Q.  "I'm taking some tough courses so I'd like to take just 3 credits this semester.  Is that OK?"
A.  Scholarship recipients must enroll for and earn no fewer than 4 credits each semester so you'll need to rethink  your  plans.  If fitting it all in will be a problem, you might seek some time-management or study skills help from Leslie Hempling, our learning resources specialist and co-director of the SAMS program.   You can reach her at 610-690-5014, lhempli1, or in Parrish 130.
SAMs have been in your situation and can be a great help for all your academic concerns.  First-year students are reminded that the College recognizes that the transition to Swarthmore can be difficult but that's why you don't receive grades during your first semester here. 

6.  Q"I entered Swarthmore with 2 advanced placement credits.  Couldn't I enroll for just 2 credits this semester and use those 2 AP credits to bring the total up to 4 this semester?"
A.  No, scholarship students must enroll for and earn 4 credits each semester.  You may use those AP credits to satisfy the prerequisite requirements for access to some higher level courses, or you may use those credits toward the total number needed for graduation (and you may be able to be graduated earlier).

7.  Q.  "I plan to come back after I am graduated to do my student teaching during a 9th semester at Swarthmore.  I know that tuition is charged during that semester.  Is Swarthmore Scholarship available for that 9th semester?"
A.  Although Swarthmore Scholarship is not available during that 9th semester, federally-eligible students may use the federal Direct Stafford Loan program to help with that tuition expense.

8.  Q.  "Are there any exceptions to the requirement that scholarship students must enroll for and earn 4 credits every semester?"
A
.  Yes, but very few:
~  Second semester seniors may enroll for and earn only 3 credits if they will be graduated on time.  Second-semester seniors who will be enrolled for just one semester in an academic year, however, must be careful since federal student aid must be reduced if the student is enrolled for only 3 credits.  If this will be your situation, talk with our associate director, Judy Strauser, to learn what your pro-rated reduction in federal student aid eligibility will be. You may reach her at x8449 or at jstraus1 or in Parrish 158.
~  Students who have disabilities or have been ill may be allowed a reduced course load in some cases.  Students who have registered their disabilities with the College should talk with our learning resources coordinator, Leslie Hempling.  You can reach her at 610-690-5014, lhempli1, or in Parrish 130.
~Other aided students who need to enroll for fewer than 4 credits must to talk with Diane Anderson, associate dean for academic affairs, so that your special circumstances can be considered.

9.  Q"Are there any exceptions to the policy that scholarship students may be considered during a
normal-length program of 8 semesters only?"
A
.  Yes, but very few:
~  Students who have disabilities or have been ill may be allowed an extended program in some cases. 
Students who have registered their disabilities with the College should talk with our learning resources coordinator, Leslie Hempling.  You can reach her at 610-690-5014, lhempli1, or in Parrish 130.

Financial Aid Office
Fall 2011