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Swarthmore College Scholarships

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Scholarships can be confusing because some scholarships are related to your family's financial situation (need-based scholarship), while others are awarded for excellent test scores or athletic achievements (merit scholarship). Both merit and need-based scholarships are free money - money you do not need to repay.

Merit scholarships are given to students for a particular merit or talent. Are you the best swimmer in your city or state? Are you a highly involved student leader in your community? Or perhaps you're an academically talented superstar. Usually, colleges grant merit scholarships to students regardless of how much you can pay for a college education. Your parents may have the ability to pay the entire cost of attendance or nothing at all.

Swarthmore awards a few merit scholarships to students each year, which do not require any additional application materials from applicants, such as extra essays. However, nearly all of our scholarships are need-based (see below).

Need-based scholarships - sometimes called grants - consist of free money offered to students based on financial need. Whatever money your family needs in order for you to attend Swarthmore, you'll receive in a loan-free financial aid award and a campus work-study job of about 6-8 hours per week. We call our need-based financial aid awards "Swarthmore Scholarships." Here's how Swarthmore calculates financial need and how the financial aid process works.

Financial Aid at Swarthmore

First, we add up all of the costs of attendance. In other words, how much does it cost to educate a Swarthmore student each year? The answer is about $65,000 per year, but a majority of our families do not pay this amount, sometimes known as the "sticker price." Think about it this way: when you go to the grocery store and you buy a gallon of milk, does the price of milk vary based on how much can you pay? The answer is no. Milk costs the same for each family, regardless of your income. College can be different. At places like Swarthmore, the cost of a college education varies based on how much you can afford. Let's look at all of the college costs:

We add up the cost of attendance, and then we subtract what you and your family can reasonably pay. This is called the Expected Family and Student Contribution.

How do we figure out what you and your family can afford? Broadly speaking, we look at your family income (how much your parents/guardians earn each year); your income (if you have a part-time job, for example); your family's assets (if your family owns their own home or has any stocks or bonds); and your personal assets (such as a savings account, if you have one).

So what's left over? After you add up all of the costs of attendance, and then you subtract what your family can pay for each year, you're left with:

Want to know more specific information for your family's estimated costs for a Swarthmore education? Complete our Net Price Calculator. You'll want to sit down with a parent or guardian to complete it the Net Price Calculator, and it will take some time. But it can be a fairly accurate estimate of your family's costs for a Swarthmore education. Please note that the Net Price Calculator isn't the best tool to use if your family owns its own business, has a family farm, or if your parents are divorced or separated.

Accessing & Affording a Swarthmore Education

As a Quaker-founded institution, our heritage informs our work. That's why we believe in access and affordability for all students, especially students coming from moderate and modest income families. We want to ensure that you're able to attend Swarthmore without any gaps in your financial aid. We make three commitments to you and your family:

For more information about our financial aid policies, please visit our aid and access website.

Undocumented Students

As previously mentioned, our Quaker heritage informs our work. That's one reason why we admit and fund undocumented and DACA-eligible first-year and transfer students the same way we do any domestic student.

We supporting our undocumented students in many ways. A staff member in the Dean's Office serves as a student advisor for undocumented students. We also have a student-run organization for undocumented students, students with undocumented family members, and students committed to equitable practices for undocumented people.

Does your parent or guardian speak Spanish? Learn more about our undocumented student policies in Spanish.