Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Prospective International Student Applicants

General Information

The frequently asked questions below are general and asked by international students who are beginning to explore the possibility of applying and attending Swarthmore College.  More specific questions geared toward international applicants are in the next section below.

 

What is an “international student” at Swarthmore College?

What does a Swarthmore College education cost?

How do I apply for financial aid?

Will I be offered financial aid from Swarthmore College?

On what basis is Swarthmore College financial aid awarded?

What does a financial aid award include?

Is there a required student contribution?

Are transfer international students eligible for Swarthmore financial aid?

When do I need to apply for financial aid?

What if my family’s financial situation changes?

Will applying for financial aid affect my chances for admission?

What additional documents are required?

What is the Certification of Finances (CoF) form?

Will the College pay my air fare and other transportation needs? 

Will the College provide me with money for books?

What does an international student do over College breaks?

Am I able to study abroad and still receive financial aid?

Is financial aid available if I apply Early Decision?

 

What is an “international student” at Swarthmore College?

Answer:  International students, also known as “foreign national students,” are non-U.S. citizen students who are enrolled at Swarthmore College full-time and who carry a passport from a country other than the United States of America.

What does a Swarthmore College education cost?

Answer:  For the 2015-16 academic year, Swarthmore College charges total $61,400. This includes tuition, fee, room, and board (meal plan) while classes are in session.  In addition to the direct charges, you should expect to spend $1,290 for books and supplies, and about $1,270 for personal expenses during the academic year.  You should expect College charges to increase about 4% each of your four years at Swarthmore.

My family cannot afford to pay the annual costs of attendance.  Will I be offered financial aid from Swarthmore College?

Answer:  We cannot determine your eligibility for our support until we have reviewed your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® and the other required financial documents. These must be received during the admission application process.  We will then do all that we can to help you. If you wish to be considered for Swarthmore aid at any time during your Swarthmore career, it is very important that you apply for financial aid during the admission process and before admission is offered.  We are not able to consider a financial aid application submitted after your admission to Swarthmore.

On what basis is Swarthmore College financial aid awarded?

Answer:  Your academic credentials and personal accomplishments influence the College’s admission decision, but they do not impact the College’s financial aid decision.  Our aid is offered to students only on the basis of their demonstrated financial need.  The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® financial aid application provides us with the information we need to guide our analysis of your need.  The need analysis assesses your family income, assets, tax liabilities, and family size, allows for standard living expenses in your country, and results in a family contribution that determines your financial need and ultimately your financial aid package.  We also consider educational costs for siblings who are attending similar or equivalent, full time undergraduate programs; however, we cannot consider their graduate school expenses.  Your academic credentials and personal accomplishments influence the College’s admission decision, but they do not impact the College’s financial aid decision. 

If I am offered financial support, what will my aid award include?

Answer:  Any financial aid award will include a campus job opportunity (about 7 or 8 hours of work each week), and then the remainder will be offered in Swarthmore Scholarship (grant aid). This year our scholarships range from $1,000 to $61,400. The average need of our international students during the 2014-15 academic year was $48,416, but no individual student is average.  We cannot determine your eligibility until we consider your financial aid application.

Is there a required student contribution from me within meeting our family’s expected family contribution?

Answer:  No and then yes.  Entering first-year students will not have an expectation to contribute in addition to their parental contribution.  However, in each future year, as a returning student, you will have an expectation of contributing at least $500.00 in addition to your parents’ contribution.

Are transfer international students eligible for Swarthmore financial aid?

Answer:  No. International transfer applicants are not considered for Swarthmore financial aid.

When do I need to apply for financial aid?

Answer:  Prospective international students must apply for financial aid consideration when they apply for admission to the College so that we can advise you of aid opportunities along with our admission decision.  If you think you will need Swarthmore College support any time during your four years here, you must submit a financial aid application when you are applying for admission.  An aid application after admission will not be considered.

Financial aid instructions can be found on our website at swarthmore.edu/apply_for_financial_aid.   Current Swarthmore students who have been aided must reapply for financial aid each April by submitting the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®.

Note for the future:  If you are admitted and choose to enroll at Swarthmore College, in subsequent years your completed financial aid application will be due April 30.  Current, returning students who have completed their application by the deadline will receive their financial aid decision in early July.

 

If my family’s financial situation changes once I am enrolled at Swarthmore, but I did not apply for financial aid when I applied for admission, will the College consider me for financial aid?

Answer:  No. If you think you will need Swarthmore College support any time during your four years here, you must submit a financial aid application when you are applying for admission. An aid application after admission will not be considered.

Will applying for financial aid affect my chances for admission to Swarthmore?

Answer:  Perhaps. International students who request our financial aid assistance will be reviewed in the most competitive pool for which the rate of admission is about 1 in 21. If you are admitted, however, the College will meet your demonstrated financial need. That is, we will fill the gap between what your family is capable of paying and what we cost (including tuition, fees, room, board, books, and personal expenses). Please contact the Financial Aid Office at Swarthmore College if you have any questions that are not answered here or not answered on our website, www.swarthmore.edu/financialaid. You are welcome to email us at: finaid@swarthmore.edu.

How does Swarthmore wish to receive a financial aid application?

Answer:  For Swarthmore, you will submit the College Board CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® which will arrive electronically to the Financial Aid Office at Swarthmore College.  Additional documentation requirements may include the following:

College Board CSS/Noncustodial Parent PROFILE (if applicable)

Letter from each of parent’s employer

Attested Parent and Student Income Information (reported income tax forms, etc.)

Attested Noncustodial Parent Income and Asset Verification Information (if applicable)

Passport or Citizenship Documents (photocopy)

See our website for additional information:

http://www.swarthmore.edu/admissions-aid/prospective-application-outside-instruct

NOTE:  Should you be admitted and choose to enroll at the College, you will also need to complete the College Board’s Certification of Finances Form and submit it to the College.  The COF will be used by our International Student Advising Office to prepare your Form I-20.For

 

What additional documents are required from international students who wish to apply for financial aid?

Answer:  Swarthmore College requires international students to complete and submit the College Board’s CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.  A link to the PROFILE is available on our website, or simply Google or Bing “CSS Financial Aid PROFILE.”  Additionally, your family will be required to submit attested letters of employment and earnings/salary from each of their employers for the base year.  Income tax forms, or the equivalent, to substantiate reported earnings may be required in some cases.  Please see Question 11 and our website for additional information:  http://www.swarthmore.edu/admissions-aid/prospective-application-outside-instruct

How and when do I complete the Certification of Finances (CoF) Form?

Answer:  You will complete the Certification of Finances (CoF) form at the time of application.  If you are admitted and choose to enroll, you may need to complete the Certification of Finances Form again with revised information that matches your financial aid award package.  You may submit this the Certification of Finances form directly to the Admissions Office (application@swarthmore.edu).  If you are admitted and choose to enroll, the Certification of Finances form will be collected by the International Student Services Office to secure your F-1 (student) visa.  For more guidance on the Certification of Finances form or if you have additional questions, please contact Swarthmore’s Director of International Student Services, Ms. Jennifer Marks-Gold.  Dean Marks-Gold is the College's expert on the visa process.

If I receive Swarthmore financial aid, will the College pay my air fare and other transportation needs? 

Answer:  After the start of your fifth semester at Swarthmore, the College will pay for one round-trip ticket from Swarthmore to home and back for our aided international students.  This must be used before commencement.  Our International Students and Scholars Advisor will speak more to this opportunity during new student orientation in the August of your entry to the College: 

http://www.swarthmore.edu/international-student-advising/round-trip-home

If I receive Swarthmore financial aid, will the College give me money for books?

Answer:  A small loan up to a limited amount will be available for your use after your arrival to Swarthmore and during your time enrolled.  You might use that loan to help fill a shortfall in your summer earnings, or for a computer, or to help purchase books or clothing more appropriate for the Pennsylvania, United States climate.  You can arrange for the loan through our International Students and Scholars Advisor.

What does an international student do over College breaks in terms of the long weekends such as Fall Break in October, Winter Break from late December to mid-January, and Spring Break in early/mid-March?

Answer:  Aided international students who remain on campus during the Winter Break may be able to receive partial support of living expenses for that time period.  International students who plan to remain on campus over Winter Break should finalize their plans before the end of October each year and must notify our International Students and Scholars Advisor, also before the end of October, if they would like to be considered for that assistance.

For Fall break (with a small “b”), which is less than a week long, international students are allowed to remain in their residence hall, and the Dean’s Office will provide some meals.  They must also notify the Dean’s Office of their intent to stay in their residence over the break.

For Spring Break, which is a little more than a week in length, international students are allowed to remain in their residence hall, and the Dean’s Office will provide some meals.  They must also notify the Dean’s Office of their intent to stay in their residence over the break.

If I am receiving Swarthmore financial aid, am I able to study abroad and still receive financial aid?

Answer:  Your financial aid carries with you in all Swarthmore-approved study abroad programs.  Aided international students who study abroad in Swarthmore-approved programs are not able to work during that semester and may borrow to fill that gap in aid equivalent to the work award for that semester in their financial aid package.  Remember to complete your aid application by April 30 regardless of which semester you plan to study abroad.

Is there financial aid available for international students who apply Early Decision?

Answer:  Yes, we have offered financial aid to international students who have been admitted Early Decision.

 

Application Process

The frequently asked question topics below are asked by international students who have applied for financial aid and who have more detailed questions related to the process.  More general questions geared toward prospective applicants are in the section above.

 

Submitting and Uploading information
Special Circumstances
Financial Aid Checklist
Passport, Bank Statement, and Certification of Finances
Self-Employed Business Owner & Unemployed Parents
Parents’ Income Letters or Letters of Employment

Income Tax Forms
Translation of Documentation
Correction of Previously Submitted Information
Non-U.S. Citizen Living in the United States
Incorrect Citizenship

General Advice

Submitting and Uploading information

How do I submit my supporting financial aid information and documentation to the Financial Aid Office?  International student applicants will need to upload their financial aid documentation and forms (all but the PROFILE) to their Financial Aid Checklist that can be accessed via their Admissions Applicant Status page online.  Once logged in to your Admissions Applicant Status page, look for the links to the Financial Aid Checklist.  The documents that you will upload include, but are not limited to, all self-procured documentation:  copies of your parents’ employment letters, income and asset forms, etc.  The PROFILE must be submitted separately and electronically.

The general checklist for international student applicants for financial aid can be found on our website:  http://www.swarthmore.edu/admissions-aid/prospective-application-outside-instruct

To upload your documents, log in to your Application Status Page (Admissions portal), and click on the link to your Financial Aid Checklist:  https://apply.swarthmore.edu/account/login

Every item listed are items that should be uploaded by you the applicant to the financial aid portal using the instructions listed above.

Special Circumstances

I have a special circumstance that does not allow me to submit the listed information.  What should I do?  In this case, briefly and clearly explain the situation and your reason for not being able to submit the required information.  Sign the document with your signature and the signature of at least one parent.  Scan this document and upload it as an “Other” document to your financial aid portal.  This does not necessarily satisfy the requirement, but it does provide the Financial Aid Committee with some additional context.

If your special circumstance is directly related to a required document that you are unable to provide, you may upload your signed electronic document as the required document.

 

Financial Aid Checklist

I am viewing my financial aid checklist and see that there are documents listed that I am unable to provide.  What should I do, particularly if those documents do not pertain to my situation?  In a written document, briefly and clearly explain the situation and your reason for not being able to submit the required information that is listed on your checklist. 

For example, if one of your parents is not currently employed, and you wish for us to waive that requirement:  Explain that your parent is not employed or not employed by an employer (i.e., they are self-employed).  Sign the document with your signature and the signature of at least one parent.  Scan this document and upload it as the name of the required document to your financial aid checklist.  In the example above, you would upload your letter as your 'mother's letter from employer.'  If you have more than one document to which this situation applies, simply explain each situation on the same signed document/letter, and upload the same document for each applicable checklist item.  Depending on the situation, this may not necessarily satisfy the requirement, but it does provide the Financial Aid Committee with some additional context.

 

Passport, Bank Statement, and the Certification of Finances (CoF) Form

The passport, bank statement, and Certification of Finances (CoF) form are required by Admissions, not by the Financial Aid Office; note that these items are not listed on the financial aid checklist:  http://www.swarthmore.edu/admissions-aid/prospective-application-outside-instruct.  These items will be necessary for you to acquire your F-1 (student) visa should you be admitted and choose to enroll at the College. 

The Admissions Office is collecting this information, as it will be required of all non-U.S. citizen students, whether they apply for financial aid or not.  You will send clear copies of your passport, your bank statement(s), and Certification of Finances form to the Admissions Office via email:  application@swarthmore.edu.  If you have already sent these pieces to the Financial Aid Office, there is no need to contact the Financial Aid Office to let us know of the error; simply email your documents to the Admissions Office via application@swarthmore.edu.

The bank statement needs to be sent to Admissions, not Financial Aid; it is needed for your F-1 Visa, should you be admitted and choose to enroll.  A bank statement is a statement that will need to be provided by every bank in which you or your parents hold an account of your or your business' funds or money; usually in savings or checking or invested cash.  The bank statement must be on the bank's company letterhead with appropriate logos.  To whatever extent the statement can be further attested, it is to your advantage to do so.  Note:  The bank statement is not a replacement for income tax forms or employment income letters.

If you have specific questions regarding the Certification of Finances form or the Bank Statement, please contact Ms. Jennifer Marks-Gold, Director of International Student Services.  Dean Marks-Gold is the College’s resident expert on the visa application process.  Her email address is jgold12@swarthmore.edu.  Note:  This is Dean Marks-Gold’s email address for your inquiries only; please do not send her your documents directly.  You will be emailing your documents to the Admissions Office at application@swarthmore.edu.

 

Self-Employed Business Owner Parents

If your parents are self-employed and own their own business(es), you will need to submit different information than what may be listed on your financial aid checklist.  You may access your financial aid checklist by accessing first your admissions applicant status page.  Once you are logged in to your admissions applicant status page, click the link to the financial aid checklist.

Your parent should provide information about his/her business that assesses the business’ value, debt, annual revenue, expenditures, profits, and asset holdings.  The assessment should be for calendar year January 1 – December 31 of the most recently ended calendar.  That documentation should also be attested and marked by a disinterested, neutral party.  In the United States, a "notary public" may perform this type of service:  https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/about-notaries.   If your parent’s business' income and asset holdings are reported as part of annual, government business income tax returns/forms, it is recommended to submit that information.

This information must be third-party documentation as would be reported to a government/state agency for tax or assessment purposes.  It must be on official organization/agency letterhead with appropriate logos, signatures and/or stamps.  Most importantly, documentation must be clear, translated into English (if applicable), and must corroborate to the information that you will submit to the Business Supplement Form as well as the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.

If your parents information will not be complete until well after the deadline or the admissions notification, you should submit their most recently completed forms along with an addended statement indicating that you will submit the necessary information at a later point.  Until we receive the required documentation, your financial aid file will remain incomplete, and no award package or estimate will be provided.  If the timing of your situation affects your deadline to commit to the Admissions Office regarding your enrollment, you are advised to contact Admissions regarding your concerns.

 

Parents’ Income Letters and Letters of Employment

The income letter or letter of employment from your parents' employers should indicate your parent's full name, their job title/position, the number of years they've been employed with their company, their annual salary between January 1 and December 31 of the most recently ended calendar (in your currency), and confirmation that they are still employed; or if they are no longer employed, the last date of their employment with that company/organization.

What do you do if you are not able to provide what is asked of by an institution?  You should provide all attested documentation that you are able to provide that corroborates the information that you will use to complete the CSS PROFILE.  If you wish to provide the alternative information, you are welcome to do so, but it may not satisfy the requirement.  

Unemployed Parents

If you are not able to provide a letter because your parent is unemployed or self-employed (see Self-Employed Business Owner Parents), then you may upload in place of the required document a signed, digital document briefly explaining the situation.  This does guarantee that the explanation offered will satisfy the completion requirement of your application, but it will provide the Financial Aid Committee with some helpful context.

If your parents information will not be complete until well after the deadline or the admissions notification, you should submit their most recently completed forms along with an addended statement indicating that you will submit the necessary information at a later point.  Until we receive the required documentation, your financial aid file will remain incomplete, and no award package or estimate will be provided.  If the timing of your situation affects your deadline to commit to the Admissions Office regarding your enrollment, you are advised to contact Admissions regarding your concerns.

The bank statement, which is to be sent to Admissions (application@swarthmore.edu) is not a replacement for the Income Employment Letter from your parents.

 

Income Tax Forms

If your country requires an annual reporting and submission of earned income, either individually or as a business, you will want to submit clear, attested copies of the forms that your parents submitted.  If your country does not have income tax forms, you may upload an attested document of the closest equivalent.  For reference only, you may wish to view a copy of the United States federal government income tax form.  

If your parents information will not be complete until well after the deadline or the admissions notification, you should submit their most recently completed forms along with an addended statement indicating that you will submit the necessary information at a later point.  Until we receive the required documentation, your financial aid file will remain incomplete, and no award package or estimate will be provided.  If the timing of your situation affects your deadline to commit to the Admissions Office regarding your enrollment, you are advised to contact Admissions regarding your concerns.

 

Translation of Documentation

There is no set format for the translation, but you will need to ensure that the translation is clear and understandable in its format.  Students are allowed to participate in the translation process with their parents.  If you are able to have your translated document attested by a neutral party, then we suggest doing that as well; in the United States, a "notary public" may perform this type of service:  https://www.nationalnotary.org/knowledge-center/about-notaries.

 

Correction of Previously Submitted Information

If after you have submitted your information, you wish to correct an error or provide an update, you may submit a signed and dated document briefly explaining the update.  Upload it to the "Other Document" selection in your Financial Aid Checklist.  

 

Non-U.S. Citizen Living in the United States

The reporting of your parents' financial aid documentation is reflective of the country in which they are earning wages, regardless of their citizenship.  

Further, if you are an international (non-U.S. citizen) student living in the United States, with or without your parents, your parents' income and asset information should be reflective of the country where they are living and earning.  If your parents are living in countries separate from one another and outside of the United States, then they will need to submit their supporting financial documents respective of their country of residence, regardless of their citizenship.  If one parent is living outside of the United States and the other parent is living and earning within the United States, the parent in the United States should be submitting the standard United States federal income tax return forms (1040 Form and Schedules and W-2s, 1099s, etc.) 

Your objective is to provide the requested information.  If your parents are unable to provide what is required, your alternative is to provide the best equivalent you are able with a clear, signed, and dated explanation to accompany the information; uploaded to your Financial Aid Checklist as an "Other Document," if applicable.

 

Incorrect Citizenship

If you are receiving information or have information requirements listed in your Financial Aid Checklist that do not seem to match with your citizenship status, please email our office directly by clicking on the following link and allow the subject to remain pre-populated:  financialaid@swarthmore.edu.

Please send a brief message including 1) a brief explanation of your situation for our clarity, 2) your full name (first and last) as it was submitted on your CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, 3) the admissions applicant pool in which you are applying, 4) your country of citizenship or citizenship status, and 5) your Admissions application ID number.

                                                                          
General Advice

We understand that there are nearly 200 countries in the world, and each country has its own process in which families report income and assets officially.  If your situation does not match exactly with what is listed and required in your financial aid checklist, it is in your best to interest to explain clearly your situation (see “Financial Aid Checklist” above) and to provide, in substitute, the closest equivalent to the required information that you are able to provide.  In doing so, you will also need to explain clearly why you are submitting the equivalent and how it is relevant and is the best alternative equivalent.  This does not mean necessarily that the information will be acceptable in terms of qualifying for financial aid, however, it is your only course of action, and it will provide the Financial Aid Committee with some viable context.  Do your best to provide information as close to meeting the requirements and put yourself in the best position possible by explaining your situation well.

The documentation you provide should be printed on organization/company/agency letterhead, if appropriate, inclusive of appropriate logos and watermarks.  You may also want to submit a clear re-statement of your situation that clearly parses out your family's unique income situation and that explains how the documentation that you are providing aligns with your explanation.  Be clear and brief and provide organized information that can be understood and followed easily by the Financial Aid Committee.