Breaking Down Financial Aid

The financial burden of attending college can be straining. For that reason students who need assistance can apply for aid.

The average cost of attendance at MSU for in-state undergraduate students is $24,000 a year.  According to ValMeyers, Associate Director in the Office of Financial Aid, on average, first time undergraduates will have approximately half their costs covered by some kind of aid. However, it is very possible to receive much more if you are in need.

Each year students are provided with more than $150 billion in aid. The only way to know how much aid you are eligible to receive is to apply by completing the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

After a student’s FAFSA is filled out and processed, they will receive an EFC or Expected Family Contribution. MSU will assess a student/family’s need for aid and how much they will receive in this way. According to the FAFSA website the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a measure of a family’s financial strength. When calculating students EFC a family’s taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security) are all considered. Also considered are the family size and the number of family members who will attend college or career school during the year.

When the student receives his or her aid, it can be combination of grants, student and parent loans, and work-study. The best type of aid to receive is grants because they do not have to be paid back. The most commonly awarded grants at MSU are the Federal Pell Grant (PELL) and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG).

Another type of aid that does not have to be repaid is money received from work-study, which is when a student is given a part-time job while enrolled in school and the money made will be used for educational expenses.

Meyers explained another type of aid provided that does not have to be repaid by the student.

“Other aid the student might receive could be scholarships based upon merit – these are awarded by high schools and other private donors.  The Office of Admissions at MSU and the HonorsCollege here also make awards to academically talented new students.”

The last type of aid a student may receive is loans.

“Students who show need may qualify for the Perkins and the Subsidized Direct Loans.  All students, regardless of need, can receive unsubsidized loans, provided they pass the basic eligibility checks,” explained Meyers.

This type of aid can prove to be very helpful to students while in school but may become a pain after graduation.

According to Meyers, for undergraduate students who decide to borrow to pay for school, the average amount of money they will owe in loans by the time they graduate will generally range from $18-20,000. However, many students do not have to borrow at all.

To avoid owing so much in loans after graduation Meyers suggests, “Students should look for private scholarships, work moderately while in school, and more during summer and breaks in order to cover some costs and most importantly assess your wants as opposed to your needs, never borrow for wants.”

To maximize your financial aid award potential Meyers advises that students keep good grades because scholarships generally require a strong GPA. Also, remember to file a FAFSA every January for the upcoming fall.  Watch your MSU email account for notices – if documents are needed or if you need to take an action that is how you will be informed.

By Ariel Ellis

Sources

Federal Student Aid

www.fafsa.ed.gov

MSU Financial Aid

http://www.finaid.msu.edu/

Val Meyers

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