Financial Aid

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Financial Aid advisors are available by appointment or on a walk-in basis at the Dowagiac campus and by appointment only at the Niles campus.

Dowagiac campus
David C. Briegel Building, Room 1004
Monday-Friday     8 a.m.-5 p.m.

General Contact Information

Main phone 269-783-2143*
Toll free 800-456-8675
Fax 269-783-2114
Dept. email
*You can use this number to reach our office for general financial aid questions.

To speak with a specific individual, call the toll free number and ask for the appropriate extension listed below.

Financial Aid Staff Directory

Lori Collins
Dowagiac campus
Loan Coordinator
Ext. 1314

Lauren Klein
Dowagiac campus
Financial Aid Advisor

Danielle Lucas
Dowagiac campus
Financial Aid Systems Analyst

Carol Ostyn
Dowagiac campus
Senior Financial Aid Advisor

Christine Passer
Dowagiac campus
Director of Financial Aid

Brandi Zoll
Dowagiac campus
Financial Aid Specialist

Getting a college education can be expensive, not only for the student but also their parents. Though Southwestern Michigan College has one of the lowest tuition rates in the region, we know that many students will need further financial assistance to make their educational dreams come true.

All full- and part-time students should apply for financial aid. Although many awards are based on financial need or on academic achievement, there are numerous scholarships available that are awarded based on a wide range of criteria.

The first step in applying for financial aid is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is processed through the U.S. Department of Education using eligibility criteria established by the federal government.

Federal financial aid is primarily need-based and designed to eliminate economic barriers to education. Those students not expecting to meet the need-based criteria should still complete the FAFSA since it is required for loan applications and scholarships.

Many Southwestern Michigan College students receive some type of financial aid. Financial aid at SMC falls into four main categories:

  • Grants: Need-based awards a student receives that do not have to be repaid in most cases.
  • Scholarships: Money that is awarded based on grades or talent that does not have to be repaid.
  • Federal Work Study: Southwestern Michigan College provides on-campus and limited off-campus student employment under the Federal Work Study Program. The college cannot guarantee employment or that the student will receive the amount initially awarded. The Work Study award is actually a maximum eligibility amount that the student may earn, if they secure a qualified student employment position.

    The student receives the award in the form of wages. These Work Study earnings may be used to assist with various education-related expenses. Once the student earns their maximum eligibility amount, the hiring department will determine if employment can continue since these funds are limited. Students interested in working on campus must be registered, have a complete financial aid file, and complete an online Student Employment Application.

  • Loans: Money borrowed for college that must be repaid.

In addition to financial aid, SMC offers payment plans through the Bill and Payment Center. A link to this site is available for students on their My SMC Space tab in SMC Wired. For more information, contact Brittney Cavanary,Student Account Specialist, at 800-456-8675, ext. 1298 or email


Southwestern Michigan College will hold the student’s tuition and fees on their account until enrollment is verified and financial aid is applied to the student account. If the student’s aid is greater than the total tuition and fees for the semester, the student may qualify for a disbursement check (refund of financial aid).

Financial aid disbursements occur twice during each semester. First payment will occur approximately 30 days after the beginning of the semester and a second payment will be made after the midpoint of the semester. Students qualifying for a refund will be mailed a check or via direct deposit by setting up a direct deposit account in SMC Wired using your “Bill & Payment Center” under the “Refund” option. After the second disbursement date each semester refund payments will be mailed/direct deposited bi-weekly.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration (NASFAA) publishes the Parent and Student Guide to Federal Tax Benefits for Tuition and Fees to provide students, parents, counselors, and others with general guidance to federal education-related tax benefits.

The Guide includes basic information about the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, and the Tuition and Fees Tax Deduction.

Please refer to Helpful Links for additional resources.