Financial Assistance

Financial Assistance



Financial Assistance for college breaks down into two types of aid, need-based aid and merit-based aid.  You can learn more about each type below.


Need-Based Aid


This type of financial assistance for college is awarded based on your family’s financial need.  Financial need is determined by subtracting your expected family contribution (EFC) (the amount of money that the government estimates your family can afford to contribute toward your college education) from the cost of attendance (COA). 


All assistance that comes from the federal government is need-based, and you must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to be eligible for federal aid.  Need-based aid from the state of Michigan is available and also requires the completion of the FAFSA.


In addition to the FAFSA, some schools will require completion of the CSS Financial Aid Profile or a specific form created by the school.  University of Michigan is an example of a school that requires the CSS Financial Aid Profile.


Need-based aid can include education grants that you don’t need to repay, but can also include college loans that need to be repaid with interest.  Federal Work-Study is another form of need-based aid that provides students with a part-time job to help with college expenses.


FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)


This application is required to receive federal and state aid.  It becomes available on October 1st of the senior year.  Families are strongly encouraged to complete it by December 1st of the senior year for maximum financial aid.  Before completing the FAFSA, students will need to apply for a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID number.


Step #1:  Get an FSA ID Number

Step #2:  Complete the FAFSA





Each year, families can get help completing the FAFSA at locations around the state through a program called MI College Goal.  The site is updated when new dates are available.

Responsible Borrowing


Students can learn more about responsible borrowing by clicking here.



MI Student Aid Website


To learn for about State Financial Aid, visit:


Affording College in Michigan Guidebook can be accessed by clicking here.



CSS Financial Aid Profile

Schools in Michigan that use the CSS Profile:

  • Hillsdale College
  • Olivet College
  • University of Michigan


For a full list of schools that use the CSS Profile, click here.



Merit-Based Aid


This type of financial assistance for college is awarded without considering financial need.  It is usually awarded for a student’s academic achievements in high school, or for special skills or talents, such as musical or athletic skills. Awards and scholarships like this are usually awarded by states, colleges and universities, private groups, or individuals.

We encourage every student to complete the FAFSA, even if it is unlikely that the student will qualify for need-based aid.  Some schools and private groups that give merit-based aid require FAFSA data before awarding merit-based aid.





Scholarships are money for college that students don’t have to pay back.  The process of applying for scholarships can be time consuming, but most students realize that once they have completed 2 or 3 applications, it gets a lot easier.


College Scholarship Pages


Students are strongly encouraged to check out the freshman scholarship page at each college they are considering.  A few examples are included below.  Find this information easily for any school by searching “school name + freshman scholarships.”  In addition to their main scholarships, most colleges also maintain a list of scholarships donated by alumni, etc.


Oakland University Freshman Merit Scholarships


Wayne State University Freshman Scholarships


Central Michigan University Freshman Scholarships


Grand Valley State University Freshman Scholarships



Scholarship Search Sites


There are numerous scholarship search sites.  Here are a few examples:




Chegg (allows you to sort scholarships by upcoming due date)




Testing Fee Waivers


Students who qualify for Free or Reduced lunch also qualify for fee waivers that can help to save money during the application process.  To find out if you qualify for Free or Reduced lunch, apply at


SAT Fee Waivers

Covers the registration fee for up to two SATs, with or without the SAT Essay.  Also covers the registration fee for up to two SAT Subject Test administrations (take up to three individual SAT Subject Tests on a single test day).


ACT Fee Waivers


ACT Fee Waivers cover the registration fee for either the ACT (no writing) or the ACT with writing. Eligible students may use a maximum of TWO separate ACT Fee Waivers.

Advanced Placement Test Financial Assistance


The cost for each AP test is $94.  Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, paid just $5 per test for May 2017 tests.  Students who think they may qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch but who have not applied, can apply at

College Application Fee Waivers


College Board Fee Waiver

College application fees can really add up, but there’s good news. Students who take the SAT or SAT Subject Tests using a test fee waiver can choose four colleges from over 2,000 participating colleges and apply for free.  Learn more by reading the FAQs.


NACAC Fee Waiver


The National Association for College Admission Counseling also offers a college application fee waiver. Students can bring this form to their counselor.



Colleges that Meet Full Financial Need


Some colleges are able to offer more financial support than others.  Click here to learn more about colleges that meet the full financial need of students.

Midwest Student Exchange Program

The Midwest Student Exchange Program, or MSEP, is a multi-state tuition reciprocity program. Through the MSEP, public institutions agree to charge students no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rate for specific programs; private institutions offer a 10% reduction on their tuition rates.


Paying for College Through Military Service


Students can learn more about paying for college through military service by accessing this U.S. Department of Defense website:

Today’s Military – Paying for College Page