Student parents sit at the crosshairs of educational and economic vulnerability. They face higher rates of poverty, take out more debt, and spend more time working and caring for their children than their peers without children. For many, “financial aid just [isn’t] enough to fix life’s little emergencies.”
Higher education is known to bring a multitude of benefits to graduates and their children—and this is especially true for single mothers. Ensuring student parents have the support they need to keep their families safe and stable, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the recovery, is essential to their ability to continue on their educational journeys and improve their family’s long-run economic security. The Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation, in partnership with IWPR, is launching SwiftStudent, a new digital tool to guide college students through the process of requesting additional financial aid to support their immediate needs.
What is SwiftStudent?
SwiftStudent is the new free, digital resource that helps students request changes to their college financial aid packages. Through SwiftStudent, students can learn about the financial aid appeal process, review eligibility requirements, and customize free template appeal letters to submit to their college financial aid office. SwiftStudent addresses the barriers students face and saves time for financial aid officers. Find SwiftStudent at https://formswift.com/swift-student.
Who can use SwiftStudent?
Anyone. SwiftStudent is available for general use, for free. The tool offers FAQs for questions specific to DACA students, LGBTQ students, homeless students, and current/former foster youth. The tool’s mobile web version is easy to use, which will enable students without home internet access to engage during the COVID19 shutdown. SwiftStudent is also intended as a free resource for financial aid officers to share with their students. Colleges can begin sharing SwiftStudent with their students immediately; there is no sign-up process or partnership required.
Why is SwiftStudent relevant now, during the COVID19 national emergency?
Many students aren’t aware that they are eligible to request financial aid adjustments, much less how to go about that process. SwiftStudent helps students and families understand eligibility requirements, the need for supporting documentation, and the process of customizing a free template letter to the financial aid office. SwiftStudent also includes checklists and log sheets to assist students in tracking their conversations with the financial aid office. During this national emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students already are facing significant economic hardships and challenges and need additional financial aid to stay in school. Students may need to file a “special circumstance appeal” to communicate a job loss or significant change in financial situation, or request support dependent/child care or disability-related expenses. SwiftStudent is a particularly practical tool during this time.
What are the benefits of using SwiftStudent?
SwiftStudent empowers students with information and saves time for financial aid officers.
|SwiftStudent offers college students:||SwiftStudent offers financial aid officers:|
SwiftStudent offers information and support for students seeking to file
A “dependency override” (when a parent is not involved in a student’s life, due to circumstances such as abuse, incarceration, homelessness or housing insecurity, or abandonment), a satisfactory academic progress appeal (when a student’s grades have dropped too low to receive federal financial aid), emergency financial aid, and 11+ additional situations.
What are the risks of using SwiftStudent?
We cannot guarantee any outcome of the financial aid appeal process. Each higher education institution manages the financial aid process of its student body. If an appeal is not accepted, financial aid officers may be able to direct a student to other resources once they better understand the student’s situation
Who is behind SwiftStudent?
The Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation has developed the tool’s content and design in partnership with 17 leading higher education organizations from around the country. These partners have provided extensive and exhaustive input on the tool, reviewing numerous iterations through the development process. Many of SwiftStudent’s features emerged from conversations in 20+ focus groups with students and financial aid officers held throughout the development process. SwiftStudent is powered by the company FormSwift, a leading provider of digital tools to easily create, edit, and sign a variety of business and legal documents. Neither FormSwift nor SwiftStudent share or sell users’ information.
Who are the SwiftStudent partners?
The SwiftStudent content was organized by the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation in proud partnership with these 17 advocacy organizations, associations, and colleges from across the country:
|National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)||Montgomery Community College|
|Achieving the Dream||National College Attainment Network|
|Everett Community College||National Student Legal Defense Network|
|Generation Hope||New America|
|Higher Learning Advocates||Northwest Florida State College|
|Hope Center for College, Community and Justice||Reach Higher at the Common App|
|Indian River Community College||uAspire|
|Institute for Women’s Policy Research||Young Invincibles|