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Common Financial Aid Topics for International Students

This information is intended for students who are considered international students, or students who are not U.S. citizens and will be attending college in the United States on a valid F-1 student visa.  The information is geared toward students applying for admission to the College as first time, first-year students. However, some information is pertinent for returning, current students as well.  Please note that all students need to apply for financial aid each year of their enrollment if they wish to be considered for financial aid.
 

Submission of the financial aid application

You must submit the CSS Profile.  For supplemental documentation for international (non-U.S. citizen, F-1 visa) student applicants, Swarthmore does NOT subscribe to IDOC.  Instead international students will access their financial aid checklist via their admissions application status page on the Admissions Office portal provided by the Admissions Office.  Applicants will submit their supplemental documentation via upload on that portal.  All documents should be uploaded in PDF.  Documents will not be accepted via email.

All international student applicants applying for financial aid for the first time must submit the International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA).

Note:  Your financial aid check list will be available in one to two business days after you submit your admissions application to Swarthmore College.  You may not be able to access your financial aid checklist through a mobile device; we suggest that you use a laptop or desktop computer. You may need to try more than one web browser to access your financial aid checklist.  If after this, you are having trouble, please email the Financial Aid Office and describe your issue.  Include your full name as it appears on your admission application (no abbreviated names or nicknames), your date of birth, the date you submitted your admission application, the date you submitted the CSS Profile, and your admission application ID number, if you have it. 

Variations in citizenship, residency, and country of earned income

If you have citizenship or reside in a country different from where your parents work and earn, your application for admission and financial aid will be reviewed to accommodate your unique circumstances.  The application pool in which you apply for admission will be determined by the Admissions Office; you should contact your regional director in Admissions for more information.  In terms of financial aid, complete the CSS Profile application (and if you are an eligible non-citizen, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA), answering each questions as it applies to your situation.  Remember that your parents' earnings and supplemental documentation should be reported in the currency in which it was earned; it should not be converted to U.S. dollars.  Also, if it is helpful, you may provide an additional explanation of your situation on the CSS Profile.

Cost of the CSS Profile

All students applying for financial aid at Swarthmore must submit the CSS Profile, including international (non-US citizen, F-1 visa) students.  If you feel the cost of the CSS Profile is prohibitive, you may preliminarily upload a PDF copy of your completed CSS Profile or a PDF copy of your completed ISFAA (International Student Financial Aid Application) to your financial aid checklist. The PDF of your CSS Profile or ISFAA must be uploaded to your financial aid checklist; do not email it. Fee waivers may be granted to some students who are offered admission, but they are not guaranteed. Ultimately,  you must submit the CSS Profile to be considered for financial aid.  Therefore, for your own ease, time savings, and assurance of better accuracy in the process, it is to your advantage to submit the CSS Profile as soon as possible.

Returning, current students should not expect to be granted a fee waiver for the CSS Profile.

Income proof or letters from your parents' employers

The Financial Aid Office needs to corroborate your CSS Profile data with documentation that is official, attested, and cannot be easily reproduced.  If your parents work for an employer, that employer should provide them annually with some official documentation of their annual earnings.  (A tax form used for this in the United States is known as a W-2 form.) You will need to use an equivalent type of form to complete the CSS Profile.  Submit the form and documentation by uploading it to your financial aid checklist on your admissions status page portal.  

Meeting this requirement can vary from country to country and business type to business type; therefore, acceptable documentation cannot be pre-defined.  It is in your best interest to provide clear documentation in its original context alongside a third-party translation into English, if necessary, and to provide it for our required reporting calendar tax year (Jan 1 - Dec 31) noted on the CSS Profile (or as close as possible to those dates).  A clear and brief explanation in writing is also allowable.  All information must be in English and in the currency in which it was earned; please do not do any currency conversions.

The letter should be on company letterhead and should include your parent's name, their salary in the company's currency, job title/position, primary job responsibilities, number of years with the company, and the calendar year in which the salary (and bonus pay, if applicable) is based.

Parent(s) who own a business or are self-employed outside of the United States

The Financial Aid Office requires corroboration of your CSS Profile data with documentation that is in English, official, attested, and cannot be easily reproduced.  If your parent’s business income and asset holdings are reported as part of annual/semi-annual, government business income tax returns/forms, then please upload those to your financial aid checklist on your admissions status page portal.

To comply with this requirement for their own business, your parents should upload the available documentation to your financial aid checklist via your admissions status page portal.  (A form used for this in the United States is known as a 1099 form.)  You must use an equivalent type of form to complete the CSS Profile.  

Meeting this requirement can vary from country to country and business type to business type; therefore, acceptable documentation cannot be pre-defined.  It is in your best interest to provide clear documentation in its original context alongside a third-party translation into English, if necessary, and to provide it for our required reporting calendar tax year (Jan 1 - Dec 31) noted on the CSS Profile (or as close as possible to those dates).  A clear and brief explanation in writing is also allowable.  All information must be in English and in the currency in which it was earned; please do not do any currency conversions.

Parent(s) were not employed during the required reporting year

Please upload to your financial aid checklist via your admission status page portal a letter signed by you and your parent(s) explaining their unemployment during the required reporting year.  The letter should explain if they are retired, disabled, or were released from their job (and the date of that occurrence).  If applicable, include information and documentation about benefits, public assistance, stipends, or severance pay they received during the required reporting year.  Please also include how your family was supported financially during the required reporting year while your parent(s) were not employed.  If your parent(s) are unemployed currently, please explain how your family is being supported financially. If your parent(s) have since returned to work, explain and provide the date of re-employment as well as their current job title and responsibilities. 

Attestation of documentation

Documentation of income and assets must be attested, official, and legitimate.  If your parents' country of work and earnings has an official, annual form for reporting income and assets, akin to the United States annual federal income tax return, provide that information along with a translation into English, if necessary.  If your parents' country of work and earnings does not have an official form, then you should provide clear, attested documentation otherwise that corroborates to the information you submitted on your CSS Profile.  If you additionally find it necessary, and available, an external agency (perhaps similar to a notary public in the United States) may be able to attest your parents' documentation.

Using home currency when completing the CSS Profile

When you complete the CSS Profile, or any financial aid application information, you must complete it using the currency from which the income (or the majority of the income) was earned.  Do not convert the currency.

Completing the financial aid checklist in the admissions portal

Students can access their financial aid checklist via the Admissions Office application status page portal; Admissions will provide you with information on how to access your portal. Remember, the Financial Aid Office cannot review your file until your checklist is complete.  

If you see items listed as required that do not seem to fit to your situation, upload the best equivalent piece of information to satisfy that requirement in its place. You may also upload a signed PDF note of explanation along with, or in place, of the submission if necessary.  For example:  If one of your parents does not work, you may wish to upload a brief statement indicating that your parent does not work in lieu of that requirement.  We may also request separate earnings documentation from each parent along with requiring a document of their combined earnings.  If your particular situation can only provide one of those documentation options, then provide an explanation in lieu of the other document.

Submitting the CSS Profile and documentation each year

If you wish to be considered for financial aid during subsequent years at Swarthmore, you must submit a complete financial aid application (including the CSS Profile) by March 1  before each subsequent year of your enrollment using income from the prior base year.  Fee waivers for future year submission of the CSS Profile will not be granted for any reason, so please plan accordingly.   

Completing an application for financial aid prior to being admitted

 In order to apply for financial aid in subsequent years you must have applied for financial aid prior to being admitted by the Admissions Office.  This applies even if you did not qualify for financial aid in your first year.  If you think you will need financial aid from Swarthmore at any time during your four years of college, you must submit a financial aid application when you apply for admission to Swarthmore. A financial aid application after admission will not be considered; this information is noted on the Admissions website as well.

Meeting financial aid application deadlines

You must submit all of your application information before the appropriate deadline, beginning with the CSS Profile.  It is preferable that you submit all of your information at once.  However, if you are not able to submit supplemental documentation until after the deadline, submit your CSS Profile on time and submit your supplemental information as soon as possible and well ahead of the admission notification date from the Admissions Office.  Please do not email the Financial Aid Office asking for permission for a late submission; your best opportunity is to submit your application as soon as possible.  

Noncustodial parent information

Your financial aid application requires information from both biological parents of the student, even if they are no longer together.  The CSS Profile process has changed slightly in recent years.  Both parents, living in separate households, may submit CSS Profile applications for their student; the applications will be matched up, or linked, using information about the student, and that information must be identical in order for both parents' financial aid applications to be matched.

If you are having an issue acquiring information from your noncustodial parent, you may upload an explanation of your situation to your financial aid checklist.  It must be signed by both you and your custodial biological/adoptive parent.  You should provide as much information about your noncustodial parent as possible in your explanation, including a timeline of your relationship with your noncustodial parent.  The Financial Aid Office will review the information, but your application will remain incomplete until that point.  Should the Financial Aid Office need more information,  we will contact you directly.

Extenuating circumstances

If you have extenuating circumstances which do not seem to fit within the parameters of the financial aid application process,  upload a letter of extenuating circumstances to your financial aid checklist.  The request may or may not be approved by the Financial Aid Office, but they will review it for consideration.  Provide documentation (if applicable) and information you believe will be helpful to the Financial Aid Office along with your letter of extenuating circumstances. 

Proof of citizenship and certification of finances

If you have questions regarding your proof of citizenship, or other questions related to your eventual matriculation to Swarthmore such as your I-20 or Certification of Finances processes, you should contact our International Student Center and direct your questions specifically to either Ms. Jennifer Marks-Gold or Ms. Reshma Suraj.