Financial Aid for College

There are many financial aid programs families may wish to investigate. In most cases financial need must be documented. "Need" is calculated by determining the difference between the cost of education (tuition and fees, room and board, books, transportation, personal expense) at the school you select and the amount that the Financial Aid Form (FAF) or Family Financial Statement (FFS) says the family should be able to contribute.

Types of Financial Assistance

The types of financial assistance listed below are frequently combined to make up a financial aid "package." Since one source of aid may not cover the full need, students are encouraged to consider applying for a variety of financial aid programs in order to increase their potential for receiving aid.

  • Scholarships: Do not require repayment and may be based upon financial need, as well as academic performance.
  • Grants: These funds do not have to be repaid and usually are based only upon demonstrated financial need.
  • Loans: Require repayment after the student leaves school. Evidence of demonstrated financial need is generally required.
  • Employment: Federal work-study program is based on demonstrated need. Students can also earn money through part-time work on or off campus without demonstrating financial need.

How Aid is Determined

Because the demand for student aid exceeds the supply of dollars available, most financial aid programs must limit their awards to students who can show that they "need" money according to a nationally accepted formula.

How is this determination made? The families of students who apply for financial aid are asked to fill out a financial statement, itemizing their resources and debts. From this information an "expected family contribution" amount is determined. This is the total amount of money which the family will be expected to provide toward the student’s educational expenses for the school year. If you would like to find out more about how this expected family contribution amount is determined, pick up a copy of either "Meeting College Costs" or "Applying For Financial Aid," both available in the Counseling Office.

If the expected family contribution figure is less than the cost for attending the school involved, need for financial assistance has been demonstrated.

As of April 1, 2007, the Federal Department of Education has a new online tool to help students and families financially prepare and plan for college before a student’s senior year of high school. Called the FAFSA4caster, it provides students with an early estimate of their eligibility for federal financial aid, which could include a Pell grant of up to $4,310. The FAFSA4caster will instantly calculate a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, including grants, reduce the time it will take to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and simplify the financial aid process for students and families.

In addition to helping families make informed decisions as they plan for college, the FAFSA4caster will also reduce the application time when students file their FAFSA in their senior year of high school. The FAFSA4caster pre-populates 51 of the 102 questions on the FAFSA, significantly reducing the time it takes to complete the FAFSA. For detailed information, go to

Basic Steps to Follow in Applying for Financial Aid

A. Take the SAT  - State of Michigan Scholarship

Every college applicant should take the SAT because the state scholarship program for students going to public and private Michigan colleges is based on the results of this test. All juniors take the SAT in April. The last opportunity for immediate state scholarship consideration is the October test date of the senior year.

B. Complete the necessary financial aid forms

  1. Students should contact the financial aid office of the college or university of their choice to determine the procedure for making application for financial aid.
  2. Almost all schools will request that students complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) between January 1 and February 15. Early filing is encouraged so that the student can take maximum advantage of the state aid programs, as well as those available through the colleges.

Sources of Financial Aid

A. Federal

  1. PELL GRANT PROGRAM: Available on the basis of demonstrated need to undergraduate students attending eligible vocational schools or colleges anywhere in the nation on at least a half-time basis. Application information is available both through the GHS Counseling Office and the postsecondary school financial aid offices. Most schools require students to apply for a Pell Grant before they can be considered for other sources of aid administered by the school.
  2. SEOG (Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant): These grants are for students who have serious money problems, $200 to $2000 a year.
  3. CWSP (College Work Study Program): Graduate and undergraduate students may be selected for employment.

B. State of Michigan Student Assistance Programs:

  1. MICHIGAN COMPETITIVE SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM: Available to Michigan students attending public and non-public Michigan colleges and universities or approved non-profit Michigan vocational schools. The first step in the application process is to take the American College Test (ACT) prior to college entry and release the scores to the State of Michigan, code 2076. Students qualifying on this examination must then submit a FAFSA.
  2. MICHIGAN TUITION GRANT PROGRAM: Available on the basis of demonstrated need to Michigan students attending non-public, degree-granting Michigan colleges and universities. The FAFSA is required for application. It is available through the guidance office at each Michigan high school and financial aid office at each eligible, non-public, Michigan college and university. (NOTE: Students cannot receive both a State Competitive Scholarship and a Tuition Grant at the same time.)
  3. GUARANTEED STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM: Students may borrow funds for study at eligible colleges or vocational schools anywhere in the world if the they meet program eligibility requirements. Requests for application forms may be made through participating private Michigan lenders (banks, savings & loan associations and credit unions). Michigan students unable to obtain a guaranteed student loan from a private lender may inquire concerning a guaranteed student loan made by the State Direct Student Loan Program through the financial aid office at their chosen college, university or vocational school.
  4. PARENT & SUPPLEMENTAL STUDENT LOAN PROGRAM: Parents may borrow for their dependent children, and independent undergraduate and graduate students may borrow for themselves for study at eligible schools. Requests for these loans are made through participating Michigan lenders (banks, savings associations and credit unions).
  5. LOCAL SCHOLARSHIPS: Each year, many dollars are made available through local organizations for graduating seniors. The availability of such funds varies from year to year. The GHS Counseling Office will have forms and applications for all local scholarships.

Websites to Visit for More Detailed and/or Specific Information

External LinkSallie Mae 
External LinkFinaid: A guide to financial aid
External LinkU.S. Department of Education
External LinkU.S. Department of Education/Parents
External LinkGrants for Students with Disabilities
External LinkMSU Scholarship Services
External LinkMichigan Student Aid
External LinkScholarship Hunter
External LinkGo College: The Student's Reference to Finding Money and Getting the Most Out of a College Education 
External LinkNASFAA: National Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators
External LinkEducation Grant Benefits and Opportunities
External LinkFastweb: Scholarships, internships, colleges and more
External LinkFederal Student Aid
External LinkChegg: Online textbook rentals, homework help, online tutoring, scholarships and internship matching for high school and college students
External LinkFree Application for Federal Student Aid (fafsa)
External LinkFinancial Aid for Students with Disabilities
External LinkAccounting and Finance Scholarships

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