To expand access and equity, Montgomery College now offers SwiftStudent, a free-to-use tool created to empower students pursuing financial aid appeals. With a generous grant from the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation, the Montgomery College Foundation implemented it last year. Through SwiftStudent, students learn about the financial aid appeal process, review eligibility requirements for making an appeal, and customize a financial aid appeal with a college’s financial aid office.
“It [SwiftStudent] levels the playing field, so to speak. It helps students prepare a more thoughtful, well-written financial aid appeal,” said Judith Taylor, Montgomery College’s director of student financial aid. The tool also reminds students to add the required documentation and to check with the school for other requirements.
SwiftStudent guides users through the appeal process related to numerous special circumstances in which a student may be eligible for an adjustment to or reinstatement of their financial aid, such as satisfactory academic progress, loss of income, or a medical crisis. SwiftStudent offers templates addressing more than 14 types of appeals—and provides an extensive resource guide.
College students receiving federal financial aid to attend school can submit an appeal or a request to their school to adjust their financial aid package. Some of the benefits that SwiftStudent offers Montgomery College students include:
- a guide to request additional financial aid when the student’s economic circumstances change, such as in COVID-19 or other crises
- a way to start the appeal conversation with financial aid officers
- clear information about financial aid requirements and appeal types
- customizable template letters to help students share their situation with MC
SwiftStudent intentionally and measurably helps knock down barriers [that delay or prevent students from earning their degrees].
“Each day we work to address barriers that delay or prevent students from earning their degrees and beginning careers that empower their families to thrive,” said Joyce Matthews, vice president for development and alumni relations. “SwiftStudent intentionally and measurably helps knock down those barriers.”
A student’s financial aid package may change in one of the following ways: cost of attendance (COA) may go up, expected family contribution (EFC) may go down, or they may receive an emergency cash grant. The COA is the school’s estimate of a student’s educational expenses for the year. It includes direct costs (tuition, fees, and books) and indirect costs (housing, transportation, and food). The EFC measures a student’s family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security), their family size, and the number of family members attending college.
Matthews says it’s important for MC students to receive valuable information—and the guidance they need—to file effective financial aid appeals. “Our students have great appreciation for the help they receive in navigating a sometimes complex and confusing process,” she said. “It is a collaboration for which we are all very grateful.”
MC students can access SwiftStudent on the financial aid web page.