Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Aid Changes

Summer

Other Aid

Billing Questions

Loans

Living Off-Campus

Changing Schools

Dependency Questions

Work Study Questions

International Students

Address Change

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General Questions

How do I contact the Office of Financial Aid?
On our contact page, you will find our phone and fax numbers, e-mail address, mailing address and office location.
How do I apply for financial aid?
Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and release the data to Michigan State University by filling in MSU's School Code (002290).
Where do I get a FAFSA and how and when do I file it?
The FAFSA is available online beginning January 1 for the following fall/spring semesters and summer session.
What is MSU's school code?
MSU's school code (used on the FAFSA) is 002290.
What is the status of my financial aid?
If you have an MSU NetID account and password, you can see your awards in StuInfo once they are completed (be sure to select the correct aid year).
Why was I offered loans but no "financial aid"?
Federal financial aid is made up of loans, grants, and work subsidy programs. Loans offered to students and parents are subsidized in part by the federal government, making them more attractive than commercial loans. The ability of students to defer repayment until after they leave school is also a feature not found in commercial loans. Therefore, student loans are considered aid.

Federal grant money is reserved for the most needy students and families. Middle- to high-income families therefore might see little or no federal grant money in their packages.

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Aid Changes

Why has my aid eligibility changed so much from what it was last year?
Aid eligibility is determined by a number of criteria, and the calculation changes each year as well, according to federal regulations.

Your Family Contribution (FC) is a calculated figure that determines how much you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) are expected to contribute to your educational costs. This figure is determined from all the data you and your parents supply on the FAFSA, and is calculated using a formula established by Congress as federal law.

If you suspect that your FC is incorrect, you should carefully review your Student Aid Report (SAR) from the federal processor. The SAR lists all the data you reported to the processor. You should review every element to ensure that the data are correct.
My siblings attend MSU or other colleges. Why does their financial aid eligibility differ so much from mine?
Need for aid is calculated as the difference between the cost of attending a particular school and the Family Contribution. Other colleges and universities are likely to have different costs as well as different amounts of financial aid (especially grant funds) to offer to students. Therefore awards will vary from school to school.

Differences between you and a sibling if both attend MSU may be a result of the difference in your earnings and assets during the last calendar year. It may also be that you are at different grade levels. Maximums in loan eligibility, for example, are different for freshman and sophomores than for juniors and seniors.
If I drop credits during the term, how will it affect my financial aid?
You may be billed for a portion or all of your financial aid if you drop credit hours or are not at the minimum credit level required for aid eligibility. If you will be attending as a part-time student or if you are considering dropping a class, it is important to discuss it with an OFA staff member first.

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Summer

When I filled out my FAFSA, I checked the "summer" enrollment box. Why isn't summer aid listed on StuInfo?
At MSU, it is our experience that when students are filling out the FAFSA, they do not really know if they will need to attend summer school fourteen to eighteen months in advance. So we ask students to let us know between January and March of the following year, a few months before summer begins, when they have a much better idea of their needs and plans. For more information, visit our Applying for Summer page.

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Other Aid

Are there discounts on tuition for children of MSU alumni?
No. MSU does not offer tuition discounts to children of MSU alumni.
What is an "alternative loan"?
If you have reached your annual or lifetime maximum borrowing level for federal student loans, you may be offered an Alternative Loan. These are loans through private agencies willing to lend to students for educational purposes. They are not based on financial need. Deferment of loan principal may be allowed while the student attends school, however, the student may be responsible to pay interest while in school. For each of the loan programs, a student must qualify as a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or an eligible non-citizen, be accepted to pursue a degree at an eligible institution, and be subject to a credit check to determine creditworthiness of the borrower. A creditworthy co-signer may be required. You must fill out a loan application on line and it will be transmitted to OFA for authorization. For more information, visit our private (alternative) loans page.
What types of scholarships am I eligible for?
The Office of Financial Aid does not award scholarships, which are defined as grant money awarded on the basis of merit, not need. All OFA awarded grants are need-based. However, we do include scholarships from the Office of Admissions, from private donors, and from MSU departments in calculating your aid package, since outside resources are considered when we determine your need for other aid.

To find scholarships you are eligible for, we suggest that you use the scholarship search services listed on our website.
What is the MET?
The Michigan Educational Trust (MET) program allows parents, grandparents, and others to prepurchase undergraduate tuition. MET offers three tuition savings choices: a full benefits plan, a limited benefits plan and a community college plan. The ability of MET to pay benefits and provide refunds under the contract is secured by the assets of the plan.
How do I find out about graduate assistantships or graduate fellowships?
Contact your department or the The MSU Graduate School.

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Billing Questions

Why is my scholarship not showing on my bill?
If you have a scholarship from a private donor, you must notify the Office of Financial Aid of the source and amount. We will put it in your aid package. However, the funds will not be applied to your bill until we receive the check from your donor.
How are loans paid to my MSU student account?
Loan disbursement requirements vary and are listed on our disbursement page. After actual funds disburse, any excess will be refunded to you during the week prior to classes.
Why is my Federal Loan showing up as anticipated financial aid on my registration bill?
This could be because you have not completed your on-line promissory note and web acceptance (first-time borrowers) or completed your web acceptance (previous borrowers), or it could be more than ten days prior to the start of classes. Federal regulations prohibit actual payment of a loan more than ten days before classes begin. Thus, most students who enroll and are billed promptly will have anticipated financial aid on their bills, since bills are produced nearly six weeks before the start of classes.
Why isn't anticipated financial aid showing on my registration bill for my Parent PLUS Loan or Graduate PLUS?
A PLUS loan will not create anticipated financial aid until we have been notified by our loan servicer that you/your parents submitted a signed promissory note and have received an approval on the credit check. Credit checks take five to seven business days to process once the loan servicer receives the signed promissory note.
Which financial aid awards pay for my different kinds of educational expenses? For example, does my loan pay for tuition, and does my scholarship pay for books?
Most financial aid awards are not designated to pay for specific charges. Aid is applied until all the charges are covered, without regard to the types of charges you have. If you have an award which only pays certain charges (for example, a state or private scholarship), you will be notified when the award is made.
When are refunds being mailed/direct deposited (for a particular semester)?
Refunds are processed beginning approximately seven days before the beginning of a semester. If you have turned in all necessary paperwork, a check will be mailed to you, or a direct deposit made to your bank account (if you have authorized MSU to do this), within a day or so.
What is my MSU account balance?
You may access your account balance at any time using StuInfo. Sign in with your MSU NetID and password and select Account Detail on the menu.

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Loans

I've decided I don't want a loan that I accepted earlier. How do I cancel it?
Use StuInfo or notify the Office of Financial Aid, either in person or by phone or email. If the loan has not yet been paid to your account, this can be taken care of in a matter of minutes. However, if a loan has been paid to your account already, we must arrange with you for a voluntary payment to be made. This process is more complex and we recommend a visit to our office if possible.
I now want a loan I declined earlier. How do I reinstate it?
A declined loan may be reinstated via StuInfo, phone, email, letter, fax, or in-person visit. If your package has not changed since the loan was declined, reinstatement is simple and can be done quickly. If you have since received more aid, changed grade levels, or had a budget adjustment, an advisor will have to review your eligibility. He or she will notify you of the result, usually by sending a revised email award notification.
What is the difference between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Student Loans?
A subsidized loan is awarded based upon need. The federal government pays the interest on the loan while the student is in school. Only after leaving school does interest begin to accrue to the student.

An unsubsidized loan is not based on need. Instead, the limits are determined by your grade level and the cost of education minus other aid. Interest begins immediately, and the student can elect to pay it as it accrues or have it added to the loan principal to be paid when the loan goes into repayment.
What is a Parent (PLUS) Loan and how do my parents begin the process of getting the loan?
Parents of dependent students may choose to borrow under the federal Parent PLUS program on behalf of their student. The parent(s) repay the loan, not the student. Repayment begins thirty to sixty days after the loan is fully disbursed.

The PLUS loan limit is the annual cost of education (the "budget") minus other financial assistance. The student must file a FAFSA. To begin the processing of a PLUS loan, the parent should download the appropriate form from our PLUS web page.
What is the maximum Subsidized or Unsubsidized Federal Loan amount I can borrow in an award year?
Student borrowing eligibility is limited by need in the case of the subsidized loan, and by grade level when considering either an unsubsidized loan or a combination of subsidized and unsubsidized loan.
What is the average student loan debt at MSU?
Average student loan indebtedness information is updated annually.
What are the current interest rates on student and parent loans?
See the appropriate web page for each type of loan.

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Living Off-Campus

I want to move off campus next year. How will my financial aid eligibility change? Will I lose the aid that is now paying for my on-campus housing? How will I get this money to pay my off-campus rent, utilities and food?
Your financial aid eligibility does not change depending upon whether you live on or off campus. If you live off-campus, you are not billed by the university for your housing.  Instead, any aid left over after the full semester's MSU tuition, fees, etc., is paid will be "refunded" to you to use for rent, food, and other living expenses. Remember that refunds are only issued to you a few days before the beginning of classes, so you might have to advance some of the cost yourself (for rental and utility deposits). If you have scholarships, check the terms carefully as some scholarships may require you to live on campus to receive them.

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Changing Schools

I am attending MSU fall semester but will be transferring to another school spring semester. How do I get my aid transferred from MSU to the new school? --OR-- I am attending another school fall semester but will be transferring to MSU spring semester. How do I get my aid transferred from the other school to MSU?
Financial aid cannot be "transferred" from one school to another - each college or university assesses your need and eligibility based upon its own costs and its own aid programs.

Make sure that your FAFSA data gets released to your new school. You may do this by adding the new school's school code to your FAFSA. MSU's code is 002290. If you are going to a new school, contact them to get that school's code.

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Dependency Questions

My parents will no longer help me with school. How can I change my status to "independent" for financial aid purposes?
You likely cannot. For financial aid purposes, you are considered a "dependent" if you are an undergraduate and meet the following criteria:
  • You are under the age of 24
  • You are not married
  • You are not supporting dependents of your own
  • You are not a veteran or currently serving in the military on active duty
  • You are not an orphan or ward of the court
  • You are not in legal guardianship granted by a court
  • You are not homeless
  • You were not emancipated by a court as a minor
Even if your parents choose not to help you with school, their income and assets are used to determine how much they could pay, and financial aid eligibility is based upon this information.
The only exceptions are when there is a complete breakdown in the parent-child relationship, such as might happen in situations involving abuse. If this is the case, consult with a financial aid advisor for help in documenting your situation.
My parents no longer claim me on their tax form. Doesn't this make me independent for financial aid?
No. Whether or not your parents claim you on their taxes has no bearing on your status for financial aid.

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Work Study Questions

Is it possible to replace my College Work-Study or Student Employment with additional loan?
It may be, if you have not already been awarded the maximum loan amount for your status and grade level. You can see loan maximums for your grade level and dependency status on our Stafford Loan Limits page.
Is the Work-Study money I earn applied directly to the bill on my MSU student account or Short Term Loan account?
No. Work-Study simply subsidizes your earnings at your job. You will receive a paycheck just as you would at any other job. If you owe money to your MSU student account or Short Term Loan, you should make payments using these funds.
If I do not earn the full amount of my Work-Study award, do I have to pay back the remainder to MSU?
No. Work-Study eligibility simply says how much you may earn with the award paying a part of your salary to your employer. If you do not use it all, there is no consequence to you.

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International Students

I am an international student and have not obtained any kind of U.S. citizenship status. Do I qualify for any federal or state financial aid?
Unfortunately, unless you are a permanent resident or a political refugee granted status by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you are not eligible. International students who have a F1 or F2 student visa are not eligible for federal aid.

You may, however, be eligible for funds from your department, especially if you are a graduate student.

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Address Changes

How do I change my address so that federal financial aid materials are mailed to a certain place?
You must contact the Federal Processor to change your address. Go online and update your FAFSA or call 1-800-433-3243.
How do I update my address with the Office of Financial Aid?
The Office of Financial Aid will mail to the local address you have on file with the university as first priority. If you have no local address on file, materials will be mailed to your permanent address. You may use the Registrar's Online Address Change form to update your address or contact the Registrar's Office at 517-355-3300.

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