15 Resources Michigan Residents Should Know About Paying for College
You’re all fired up about your future. There’s only one problem: you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for the college education you’ll need in order to realize your aspirations.
The good news is that Michigan is currently running a campaign to increase college attendance by 60% by 2025. As part of that campaign, the state has a bounty of resources to help students prepare and plan for college. The Michigan College Access Network has both online and in-school programs to help achieve this goal.
What’s even better than that? Maybe the more than $112 million in financial aid available from a variety of sources for Michigan residents.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t stress. We’re going to walk you through everything you need to know to fund your college education.
Step 1: Apply for Federal Funding
Your first step in creating your college funding plan is to apply for FAFSA. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Once you complete your FAFSA application, you’ll be automatically considered for:
- federal grants (such as the Pell Grant)
- federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans
- some state grants and scholarships
If we’re going to tell you to apply for FAFSA, we should probably also disclose that filling out the application can be a bit of a headache. However, we’ve created a step-by-step guide that should hopefully make the process a little easier.
When should you apply for FAFSA? As soon as possible. Some grants and scholarships that are determined through FAFSA may have early deadlines that you’ll need to meet in order to be considered. You certainly don’t want to miss out on free money because you waited too long to apply.
Step 2: Apply for State Funding and Scholarships
While FAFSA will automatically put you in the running for various state grants and scholarships, it’s important to know that it doesn’t cover everything. Some of Michigan’s many state offerings may require a completely separate application.
And speaking of Michigan offerings, here are some Michigan grants that you might want to check out.
Michigan grants include:
There are also Michigan scholarships to check out.
Michigan scholarships include:
To search for additional scholarships, go to the MI Student Aid website and use their scholarship search tool.
Step 3: Apply for Institutional, Local and National Scholarships
Your high school guidance department should be a regular destination if you’re a senior. Stop in frequently to get the scoop on any local scholarships that you might qualify for. (Psst … set a reminder in your phone to stop in once a week.)
You should also check out the financial aid web pages of any schools you’re considering. They can sometimes be a treasure trove of funding info.
One example: The University of Michigan (UM) has a massive list of scholarships organized by area of study, financial need, and other categories. (Even if you don’t plan on attending UM, we suggest you go check out this page anyway. We won’t tell.)
You can also do your own searches online. There are many websites devoted to scholarship searches, so pick one and start sleuthing. We like CollegeScholarships.com, which even breaks down scholarships offerings by county. Kent and Kalamazoo Counties each have 49 scholarships targeted toward their residents. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a complete county list.)
Sallie Mae's Scholarship Search is yet another helpful resource for scholarship hunting.
Step 4: Apply for a Private Loan
After you’ve exhausted all of your options for grants, scholarships, and federal loans, you may still find that you don’t have enough money to pay for college. If that’s the case, consider taking out a private loan to make up the difference.
Check out our free NitroScore tool to help forecast your loan payments, and to get a score on how easy or hard a loan may be to pay off.
Then, check out our recommendations for the best banks for private student loans.
College doesn’t have to be out of reach for any Michigan residents. Start creating your college funding package today.