Financial Aid


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - is for any student, regardless of income, who wants to be considered for federal, state, and school financial aid programs. This includes grants, scholarships, work-study funds, and loans. To complete your FAFSA form, please visit FAFSA.

For more information or guidance with FAFSA, please attend one of Oakland Universities free virtual workshops. You will need to register ahead of time. Here there will be an individual to guide students and parents how to fill out FAFSA and answer any questions you may have. Please visit the Financial Aid Virtual Workshop Through Oakland University to register!

Tuition Advantage At Central Michigan University

More Michigan students can now attend CMU tuition-free! We’ve made qualifying for our CMU Tuition Advantage program easier than ever. 

Michigan students whose families have an adjusted gross income and family assets of $65,000 or less may be eligible to attend CMU tuition-free. We will cover the cost of 30 credit hours (15 credits in the fall and 15 credits in the spring) through a combination of federal, state and institutional aid.

External LinkCMU Tuition Advantage

How Does It Work?

Completing the FAFSA is the first step in the financial aid process. Once you submit it, we process our information. Then we send an electronic copy of your information to all of the schools you list in Step Six. We mail a paper report, called a Student Aid Report, or SAR, to you. It is important to review your SAR when you receive it to make sure all of your information is correct and to provide any necessary corrections or additional information.

We enter your information into a formula from the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and the result is our Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. This represents the amount your family is expected to contribute towards the cost of your education (although this amount may not exactly match the amount you and our family end up contributing). If your information is complete, your SAR will contain your EFC.

The schools you list in Step Six receive your EFC along with the rest of your information. They use the EFC to prepare a financial aid package to help you meet your financial need. Financial need is the difference between your EFC and your school’s cost of attendance (which can include living expenses), as determined by the school. If you believe that you have special circumstances that should be taken into account, such as unusual medical or dental expenses or a significant change in income from one year to the next, contact the financial aid offices at the schools to which you are applying.

Any financial aid you are eligible to receive will be paid to you through your school. Typically, your school will first use the aid to pay tuition, fees, and room and board (if provided by the school). Any remaining aid is paid to you for your other expenses. You cannot receive aid from more than one school for the same period of enrollment.

You may receive a Federal Pell Grant from only one school for the same period of enrollment.

Where Can I Get More Information?

The best place for information about student financial aid is the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend. The financial aid administrator can tell you about student aid available from your state, the school itself, and other sources.

The Internet is an incredible source for financial aid information. Many schools have information about financial aid on their websites. You can also get free information from the U.S. Department of Education’s website at, including access to that offer to submit your application free publications such as Funding Your Education and The Student Guide, or from

You can call our Federal Student Aid Information Center for information at (800) 4FED-AID ((800) 433-3243). TTY users may call (800) 730-8913.

You can also find free information about federal, state, institutional, and private student aid in your high school counselor’s office or local library’s reference section (usually listed under “student aid” or “financial aid”). There may be information available from foundations, religious organizations, community organizations, and civic groups, as well as organizations related to your field of interest, such as the American Medical Association or American Bar Association. Check with your parents’ employers or unions to see if they award scholarships or have tuition payment plans.

Filling out the FAFSA, and applying for student financial aid is free. You should be wary of mailings or websites that offer to submit your application for you, or to find you money for school if you pay them a fee. Some of them are legitimate, and some are scams. But generally any information or service you pay for can be had for free from your school or from the U.S. Department of Education.

What Does Your School Want You To Know?

We asked financial aid advisors from around the country what they would tell students filing out their FAFSA’s. Here’s what they said:

Read the Form!

Many questions on the FAFSA are straightforward, like your social Security Number or your date of birth. But many require you to read the instructions to make sure you answer the question correctly. Words like “household,” “investments,” and even “parent” all have common meanings, but are specifically defined for purposes of student financial aid. So be sure to read the instructions.

You may have unique family situations that may cause you to have additional questions. You should then contact a financial aid administrator at a school you wish to attend for clarification.

Apply Early

Deadlines for aid from your state, from your school, and from private sources tend to be much earlier than deadlines for federal aid. To make sure that any financial aid package your school offers you will contain aid from as many sources as possible, apply as soon as you can after January 1st.

The U.S. Department of Education will process your FAFSA right up until June 30th. However, to actually receive aid, your school must have your correct, complete information before your last day of enrollment. So it is important to apply early to make sure you leave enough time for your school to receive your information and to make any necessary corrections.

You Don’t Need to File Your Tax Return Before You Submit Your FAFSA

Filling out our tax return will make completing the FAFSA easier. However, you do not need to submit your tax return to the IRS before you submit your FAFSA.

You can file your FAFSA electronically

You can fill out and submit a FAFSA over the Internet. This is the fastest way to apply for financial aid. Also, your information is edited before you submit it so, if you made any errors or left out any information, we can call this to your attention before you submit your information. This reduces the chance that your data will be rejected for some reason and makes it less likely that you will have to correct your information later. To submit your application using FAFSA on the Web, to

There May be Additional Forms

The FAFSA is the one application for federal student aid. Many schools and states rely solely upon this information. However, your school or state may require you to fill out additional forms. These additional forms may have deadlines that are earlier than the federal student aid deadlines, so be sure to check with the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.

My parents are divorced or separated. Which parent completes the financial statement?

The parent with whom the student lived the most in the past year. If an equal amount of time was spent with each parent, provide the information for the parent who provided the most support during the past year.

My parent is remarried. Does my stepparent have to provide his/her income on my financial statement even if he/she is not legally obligated to help me with my decision?

Yes. In remarriage situations, both incomes must be reported for financial aid purposes.

What happens if my family’s situation changes after I file the original application?

Contact the financial aid officer at our selected institution for more information. In most cases you will be asked to send a letter that explains your situation and provide supporting documentation. Some reasons for contacting the institution’s financial aid office and the state to report changes after the financial statement was filed include: change in parents’ martial status, death of a parent, disability of a parent, loss of job/income, etc. (Be sure to put the student’s name and social security number on all correspondence.)

My parents will not help me finance my college education. Can I file as an independent student financial aid?

Lack of parent assistance alone does not make a student independent for financial aid purposes. Federal guidelines specifically indicate which students may file as independent. Review the information in this handbook for specific criteria. Check with the financial aid officer at the institution you plan to attend for further information or special circumstances.

Will my family be required to turn in any forms besides the financial statement?

Yes, You may be required to submit copies of your parents’ federal income tax returns. Families are advised to maintain a copy of federal tax return for this purpose. Colleges may also require that an institutional application form be completed for their aid and scholarship programs.

What happens to financial aid if I transfer from one school to another?

You will be required to reapply for financial aid at the second school. Aid is not automatically transferred from one school to another. Eligibility is based on availability of funding and school costs.

Is there any financial aid available for foreign study?

In some cases, financial aid may be available for international study. Contact the admissions office at the institution you plan to attend.

Is there financial aid available for graduate study?

Yes, both federal and state aid programs are available for graduate study. Review the federal and state program summaries in the handbook for specific programs. Contact the financial aid office and the graduate school at the college you plan to attend for information.

What are scholarship search organizations and can they help me find aid?

Scholarship search organizations attempt to identify sources of aid. Some search services are free, some charge a fee. Many of the sources of aid identified by these companies can be found through the college financial aid office or general resource books and pamphlets. Since scholarship search “scams” are known to exist, families who are interested in using these services are advised to carefully consider the following points.

  • paying a fee does not insure a better search result
  • carefully check the company’s guarantee
  • beware of outlandish promises of access to “hidden” scholarships
  • check references of previous customers’ satisfaction of services provided
  • review the application for specific information about you that will target funds for your interests/skills
  • check the Financial Aid Information website at for scholarship search information
  • consult with your high school counselor

How is financial aid paid to students?

Financial aid awards are usually applied to the student’s tuition and fees, and room/board charges first. Any remaining aid is then often awarded directly to students for use in meeting other expenses.

My sister/brother attends college this year and was not eligible for financial aid. Should I apply, since both of us will be in college?

Yes, Both you and your sister/brother should apply. The parent contribution is divided by the number of family members who are attending college at least half-time. With two in college, you may show increased eligibility for assistance. Since the application form is free, you can’t lose by applying.

Do my high school or college grades affect my eligibility for financial aid?

It is not necessary to have a specific grade point average in high school to be eligible for need-based aid. High school grades are, of course, a significant factor in awarding merit scholarships. To continue to receive aid in college, you must maintain academic progress. For details on the specific policy that may affect you, contact the financial aid administrator at the institution you will attend.

Planning for Educational Expenses

Each family considering education beyond high school graduation must begin planning early and plan carefully for the expenses involved in paying for postsecondary education. Four primary steps are involved in planning to need educational expenses.

Prepare for postsecondary education by advance financial planning including savings accounts and other savings programs. Your local bank, savings and loan association or credit union may be able to provide you with available information about various educational savings programs. Students should be encouraged to get a job and save from their earnings toward educational costs.

Determine school year cost of attendance at the institution which meets the student’s educational needs.

Consider what the family can realistically pay to meet these costs.

Apply for various financial aid programs available to help families who cannot pay the full costs of education.

Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance will vary from school to school but generally includes the following items:

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Transportation
  • Miscellaneour Personal Expenses

And May Sometime Include:

  • Study Abroad
  • Dependent Care
  • Special Expenses for handicapped

Determining Who Has Financial Need

Most financial aid programs are designed to assist families who are unable to pay the full or partial cost for postsecondary education. Therefore, the programs are referred to as need-based financial aid programs.

Philosophy of Financial Aid

To understand how the financial aid system works, you need to understand the underlying philosophy that supports the system.

It is the parents’ and student’s responsibility to pay for higher education expenses to the extent that they are able to do so.

All families must receive a consistent and equitable evaluation of their financial circumstances.

The formula used to determine who has need and who does not is actually quite simple. The following equation is used:
Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution = Financial Need

Federal Methodology

As was noted earlier, the cost of attendance can include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation costs etc. How does a family or the financial aid counselor know what a family is expected to contribute? Families must complete a financial aid application. This application will ask many questions about the families’ income and assets in order to analyze their need. Student financial information is also included in this calculation. The entire application process can be summed up by saying that the application is aimed at trying to determine:

  • Parents’ contribution from income and assets
  • Student’s contribution from income and assets

Add the parent contribution and the student contribution together to get Expected Family Contribution.

Student Contribution + Parent Contribution = Expected Family Contribution

Independent Student

When Are Independent Students?

A student is automatically independent if he or she meets at least one of the following criteria:

  • is at least 24 years of age by December 31, of the award year;
  • is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces;
  • is a graduate or professional student;
  • is married;
  • is a ward of the court or both parents are dead;
  • has legal dependents other than a spouse.

In unusual circumstances, a student who does not meet any of these criteria may still be considered independent. The financial aid administrator at the student’s school may use professional judgment to decide that a student is independent. This decision is made on an individual (case-by-case) basis with the financial aid administrator evaluating documentation relating to the student’s actual circumstances. Essentially, the decision depends on establishing the fact a student is independent by necessity rather than by choice.

Students should consult directly with the financial aid administrator at the institution to find out whether to proceed with gathering documentation and what information is required.

Michigan Student Aid: Planning and Paying for College Handbook - National Association of Student Aid Administrators - Michigan Student Financial Aid Association - Financial Aid Information Page - Financial Aid Eligibility Estimator - Scholarship Scams Information - MI-Search Scholarship Search Services - Middle School through College Information - College Financial Aid Office - Peterson’s Education Center - The College Board On-line - ACT Assessment Exam - Michigan Merit Award Program - State of Michigan Financial Aid Programs - Michigan Department of Education - U.S. Department of Education Aid Program - FAFSA on the Web - Tuition Tax Credits and Deductions (Pub.970) - College Program and Degree Information


 Learningwww.collegeispossible.orgCollege is Possible Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) Start Coalition

www.collegezone.comCollege Zone for College (A good link for parents.) - Association of American Medical Colleges (Medicine) - American Physical Therapy Association (Physical Therapy) - American Dental Association (Dentistry) - American Bar Association (Law) - The Association of Collegiate Registrars - American Nursing Association (Nursing) - The Princeton Review

www.freescholarships.comFree Monies for Scholarships - College STEPS Program - My Major

www.scholarship.comFree Scholarship Search