2016 Most Affordable Colleges in Michigan

Scroll down to see our top-ranked colleges in Michigan, loans and scholarships for Michigan students, and advice on how to save money going to college in Michigan.

2016 Most Affordable Colleges in Michigan

Also on this page:

1

Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan is a public research university that ranked 116th in U.S. News & World Report's 2015 list of the best national universities. Institutional grants and scholarships are provided to 92% of full-time beginning undergraduates, with students receiving an average award of $8,599. Incoming students are automatically considered for most merit-based scholarships, including the Leading Scholar Award, which provides full-tuition, room and board for academically outstanding students. Incoming first-year students are also eligible for the $1,500 to $4,500 per year Presidential Scholars Program and the School of Business and Economics Impact Scholarship, which ranges from $7,000 to full-tuition. Transfer students are eligible for the Michigan Tech Transfer Scholarship, which ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 per year.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

7,099 Students

2

Michigan State University

Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan has a list of notable alumni that includes professional basketball player Magic Johnson and actor James Caan. Institutional grants or scholarships are provided to 39% of full-time beginning undergraduates, with students receiving an average award of $7,826. Through the Alumni Distinguished Scholarship program, the top 15 freshmen candidates are eligible for scholarships that cover tuition, fees, room, and board and provide $1,000 extra annually. Other academic merit scholarships available to incoming freshmen include the full-tuition Distinguished Freshman Scholarship, the $15,000 Honors College National Scholarship for out-of-state Honors College invitees and the $4,000 Merit Recognition Scholarship for National Merit Finalists.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 96.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

50,081 Students

3

Ferris State University

Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan was founded as Big Rapids Industrial School in 1884 and didn't receive its present name until more than 100 years later in 1987. The university offers several institutional grants and scholarships, with 66% of full-time beginning undergraduates receiving this type of aid. First-year freshmen can apply for merit-based scholarships that range from $1,500 per year to the full-tuition Founder's Scholarship. Full-time out-of-state students can apply for the Great Lakes Scholarship if they are from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin or Ontario and receive $5,000 awards that are renewable for four-years. Similarly, out-of-state students from other states can apply for the Bulldog Award, a renewable $5,000 per year scholarship.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 96.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

14,600 Students

4

Gogebic Community College

Located in Ironwood, Michigan, Gogebic Community College is a public two-year college that offers technical programs, professional certificates, transfer programs, and associate degrees. The Michigan Transfer Agreement is in place to help students to transfer to the Michigan university or college of their choice. A wide range of scholarships are available to students, and the Federal College Work-Study program is available for students who wish to work part-time on campus. For students who need to pay their tuition in installments, a tuition payment plan is available.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,119 Students

5

Schoolcraft College

Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, delivers classes for its transfer associate degrees and career programs in a variety of formats, including day and evening sessions; courses that run for seven, 12 or 15 weeks; and online and hybrid courses. Need-based grants offered by Schoolcraft include federal Pell Grants, Michigan Tuition Incentive Program grants, Michigan Native American Tuition Waivers, and the Schoolcraft College Educational Awards. Available scholarships include the Faculty Academic Scholarships ($500) which recognize current, outstanding Schoolcraft students. The Trustee and Award of Excellence Scholarships are awarded to incoming freshmen based on their high school GPA and ACT score. Schoolcraft has a payment plan that allows students up to five months to pay a semester's expenses.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

11,542 Students

6

Western Michigan University

A dynamic and diverse campus committed to creating a challenging and inclusive learning environment, the Western Michigan University offers 147 bachelor's, 173 master's and 30 doctoral programs. Incoming freshmen who are Michigan residents and who meet the academic criteria are automatically considered for the coveted Medallion Scholarships ($12,500 annually). Other merit-based WMU scholarships are the Dean's Scholarships ($3,000 or $6,000 annually) and the Multicultural Leader Scholarships ($4,000 annually). Non-resident admitted freshmen are considered for the Presidential Gold Scholarships ($9,000 annually) and the Presidential Silver Scholarships ($7,000 annually). WMU students from under-represented groups who are finance majors can vie for the Greenleaf Trust. Eight scholarships of $10,000 each are awarded every year.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

23,914 Students

7

Lake Superior State University

Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Lake Superior State University is a public university with a focus on liberal and technical studies. LSSU provides financial aid to 94% of its full-time, first-year students, with 78% of this aid coming from institutional grants or scholarships. Scholarships for incoming freshmen include the Laker Gold Scholarship (full-tuition), the Board of Trustees Distinguished Scholarship (up to $8,000 per year) and the Board of Trustees Academic Excellence Scholarship (up to $5,000 per year). Transfer students are also eligible for scholarships, including the Board of Trustees Distinguished Transfer Scholarship (up to $5,000 per year), the Board of Trustees Academic Excellence Transfer Scholarship (up to $3,500 per year) and the Board of Trustees Academic Honors Transfer Scholarship (up to $2,000 per year).

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

2,407 Students

8

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan is the fifth largest university in Michigan and ranked 26th in U.S. News & World Report's 2015 list of the best universities in the Midwest. Grand Valley State provides institutional grants or scholarships to 71% of full-time beginning undergraduates, with these students receiving an average award of $4,001. Incoming freshmen with excellent academic records can apply for several merit scholarships, including the Presidential Scholarship, which provides an award ranging from $4,000 to $7,000 per year, and the Faculty Scholarship, which provides an award ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per year. The university also offers seven institutional grants for students with exceptional financial need, with award amounts ranging from $500 to $4,400 per year.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

25,094 Students

9

Wayne State University

Located in Detroit, Michigan, Wayne State University is a research university that offers more than 370 academic programs. Many new students may qualify for the various merit-based scholarships offered by Wayne State University as well as scholarships from external organizations. For first generation college students or students who have been underrepresented historically in higher education, federal TRIO Programs are offered. WSU also offers many tuition assistance programs such as employee tuition assistance, reduced tuition for spouse/child of employee, and reduced tuition for spouse/child of union of part-time faculty (UPTF) member. In addition, federal work-study programs and tuition payment plans are available.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

27,578 Students

10

Aquinas College

Founded in the Catholic and Dominican tradition, Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan was named after St. Thomas Aquinas, who is one of the most respected intellectuals in the history of the Catholic Church. More than 90% of full-time beginning undergraduates at Aquinas College receive some type of institutional grants or scholarships, and Pell Grants are offered to 34% of undergraduate students. Federal and state work-study programs are available to students as well. According to the school's website, its comprehensive financial aid packages allow graduates to leave school with $6,000 less debt than students who attended public colleges in Michigan and $7,500 less debt than students who attended private colleges in Michigan.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.9

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,933 Students

11

Hope College

Starting out with just 10 students in 1862, Hope College now has over 3,300 students taking classes in its Holland campus, located just a few miles from Lake Michigan. Qualified students are automatically considered for academic-based scholarships, including the following: Trustee Scholarship ($18,000 per year), Presidential Scholarship ($7,000-$16,000 per year), Distinguished Scholar Award ($5,000-$6,000 per year), and the Alumni Honors Scholarship ($3,000-$4,500 per year). These scholarships are guaranteed through a recipient's sophomore year, and renewable for two more years as long as the student maintains the required cumulative GPA. Distinguished Artist Awards ($2,500 each) are available in the areas of creative writing, dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. These artistic awards can be combined with academic scholarships.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,455 Students

12

Alpena Community College

Located in Alpena, Michigan, Alpena Community College is a two-year college that offers nearly 20 certificates of achievement, over 50 associate degrees, and one bachelor degree. Alpena Community College participates in the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers Articulation Agreement, which helps students to transfer to four-year Michigan colleges and university in a smoother fashion. ACC offers many major-specific scholarships to students, and work study programs are available for students who are willing to work part-time on campus. Tuition waivers are available for any college district residents over the age of 65.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,636 Students

13

Central Michigan University

Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan is among the 100 largest public universities in the United States and is ranked 194th in U.S. News & World Report's list of best national universities in 2015. The school provides students with $61 million in university funding annually and awards over $300 million in private and federal financial awards and grants each year. In the 2014-2015 school year, institutional scholarships were provided to 47% of the incoming class. Incoming students with financial need and strong academic records are automatically considered for three financial awards: the Academic Prestige Award, Academic Excellence Award and Academic Success Award. These awards have a maximum award amount of $6,000.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

26,879 Students

14

Northwestern Michigan College

Northwestern Michigan College is a community college located in Traverse City, Michigan. Tuition waivers are available for North American Indians (1/4 blood) who are also Michigan residents. Federal Work Study is also available for students with financial need who are willing to work part-time jobs related to their studies. Students may take advantage of scholarships as well including the Michigan Competitive Scholarship, which is based on both merit and financial need. For students who wish to break up their tuition payments into multiple installments, payment plans are available.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,502 Students

15

St Clair County Community College

St. Clair County Community College, known as SC4, offers a variety of career, associate and bachelor's degree programs both at its Port Huron, Michigan, campus and online. SC4 participates in a number of financial aid programs, including federal Pell Grants, federal work-study, loan programs that disburse more than $6 million in student loans, and the Michigan Works! Young Professionals tuition assistance program. A variety of scholarships are available to students who meet specific requirements, with awards varying from $100 up to full tuition and fees. The Port Huron Rotary Scholarship, for example, awards $1,000 to graduates of Port Huron High School or Port Huron Northern High School. The SC4 ESP Student Scholarship awards $300 based on financial need.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

4,127 Students

16

Glen Oaks Community College

Located in Centreville, Michigan, Glen Oaks Community College is a community college that offers over 40 degrees and certificates. There are many scholarships available to Glen Oaks Community College students like the Glen Oaks Community College Presidential and Dean's Scholarship, which requires students to have 3.0 to 3.5 GPAs. GOCC offers a Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver, which waives tuition costs for eligible Native Americans who are Michigan residents. There are several payment plans available to GOCC students like the FACTS payment plan in which students can make monthly payments as well as third party payments.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

1,104 Students

17

Spring Arbor University

Starting out as an elementary and secondary school in the 1800's, Spring Arbor University is now a comprehensive, liberal arts Christian university with more than 70 undergraduate majors and programs and over 4,000 degree-seeking enrolled students. An entering freshman who is a National Merit Finalist is eligible for the National Merit Scholarship, which covers 100 percent of tuition cost. Incoming freshmen who are National Merit Semifinalists are eligible for 60 percent reduction of tuition cost. Freshmen may also be considered for the following merit-based scholarships: Trustee Scholarship ($12,000/year), Presidential Scholarship ($10,000/year), Provost Scholarship ($8,000/year), Faculty Scholarship ($6,000/year), Alumni Scholarship ($4,000/year), Multicultural Leadership Scholarship ($3,000/year), and the Diversity Grant ($1,500/year).

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 94.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

3,733 Students

18

University of Michigan-Dearborn

Established in 1959 with a donation of 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, the University of Michigan in Dearborn started with 34 students enrolled in three degree programs. Today, UM-Dearborn undergraduates can choose from over 60 fields of study and receive over $33 million in scholarships (2014). The following are merit-based scholarships for incoming freshmen: Chancellor's Scholarship (full tuition), Metropolitan Scholarship ($5,000/year), Dean's Scholarship ($3,000/ year) and the Maize and Blue Scholarship ($2,000/year). Freshmen who graduate from a Michigan public high school within an economically disadvantaged school district may be eligible for the University of Michigan-Dearborn Opportunity Scholarship ($2,000/year). Opportunity scholars may also be considered for the Victors Scholarships program, which awards 25 full-tuition scholarships each year.

Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission

CAG Score 93.6

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

8,923 Students

An affordable college degree Michigan is achievable—especially if you’re willing to go public. Our list of cheap, quality-driven schools includes state universities (e.g. Michigan, Ferris, Wayne, Grand Valley. etc.) and community colleges in almost every metropolitan area. Michigan residents are also eligible for a number of state financial aid packages, including grants for low-income students and scholarships for GEAR UP participants. If you’re lucky enough to live in a Michigan Promise Zone, your tuition for two years at a community college may even be free.

How to Transfer College Credits in Michigan

Transferring college credit in Michigan often depends on the policies of each individual educational institution. Michigan does not have state wide public institution transfer policies, however, most colleges and universities follow general transfer agreements.

The Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers Transfer Agreement (MACRAO Transfer Agreement) makes it easy to transfer from Michigan’s community colleges to four year colleges and universities. Under this agreement, students can transfer up to 30 semester credits to meet general education requirements. With this specific set of courses completed, all of the courses will transfer and be applied toward general education requirements.

Similar to the MACRAO Transfer Agreement, the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA) allows students to transfer general education requirements between institutions. In fact, the MTA is used for new students, and will completely replace the MACRAO Transfer Agreement when if phases out in summer 2019. The MTA package of 30 credits can be completed on its own, or as part of an associate’s degree. The package transfers seamlessly to any institution that participates in the MTA.

It is important to note that not all colleges and universities in Michigan participate in the MACRAO Transfer Agreement and MTN. Some participate fully, and some have limitations and provisions.

Students can research transfer course equivalencies with the Michigan Transfer Network. On this website, students can plan to take transferable courses, or see how courses you’ve already taken would transfer to another school.

State Financial Aid for Michigan Students

The Student Financial Services Bureau (SFSB) is the place to go for info on student financial assistance programs in the Great Lake State. It has detailed advice on Michigan college savings plans, Michigan student loans like the MFA and a variety of interactive resources. In almost all cases, you must have been a Michigan resident for at least one year in order to be eligible for student state aid.

Perhaps the most important section on the SFSB website is Student Scholarships and Grants (SSG). Here you’ll find links to scholarship applications, fact sheets and access to the MiSSG Student Portal. MiSSG is a centralized place for students to view records, applications, and updates from SSG. However, you must have a current FAFSA on file in order to access it.

Another useful resource is the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling (MACAC). It provides student support in the form of national college fairs, an annual scholarship, and a Camp College for high school students in grades 10–11 from underserved populations. Looking at community colleges? find out whether you’re attending high school in a Michigan Promise Zone. If you are, you may be eligible to receive an award that covers the tuition (and mandatory fees) for an associate’s degree or technical certificate.

Michigan Student Grants

Michigan Tuition Grant (MTG)

Summary: MTG is a need-based grant that can be used to pay for undergraduate tuition & fees at independent, non-profit degree-granting colleges/universities in Michigan. (The MTG Fact Sheet has a list of eligible schools.) The annual award amount in 2015-2016 was $1,830; the grant is limited to 10 semesters or 15 terms.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or approved refugee
  • Be a Michigan resident since July 1 of the previous calendar year
  • Demonstrate financial need (a scientific calculation done through FAFSA)
  • File your FAFSA prior to July 1 preceding fall enrollment
  • Enroll at least half time at an approved independent, degree-granting Michigan postsecondary institution
  • Hold a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent
  • Meet the institution’s satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy
  • Not be incarcerated
  • Not be enrolled in a course of study leading to a degree in theology, divinity or religious education
  • Not be in default on a Federal/State student loan

How to Apply: File your FAFSA by June 30 at the very latest. The award is based on the first choice of college that you list on the FAFSA.

Police and Fire Fighter’s Survivors Tuition Grant (STG)

Summary: The STG is available for children (natural or adopted) and surviving spouses of Michigan police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty. Recipients will need to enroll at least half-time in a program leading to a certificate or degree at an approved Michigan community college or public university (i.e. state public institutions). The award waives tuition for up to 9 semesters or 13 terms.

Eligibility:

  • Be a Michigan resident for 12 consecutive months prior to application (dependents use the parent’s residency status)
  • Provide satisfactory evidence (i.e official documentation) that the applicant is an eligible child or surviving spouse of a police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty
  • Be under the age of 21 at the time of their parent’s death and apply before the age of 26 (if applying as a child)
  • Have not yet received a bachelor’s degree
  • Apply, qualify and enroll at least half-time in a program leading to a certificate or degree at an approved Michigan community college or public university
  • Be below 400% of the federal poverty level (i.e. demonstrate financial need) excluding any income from death benefits
  • Be certified by the institution’s financial aid officer that a waiver is needed to meet tuition expenses
  • Meet the institution’s satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy

How to Apply: Call the SSG toll-free at 1-888-4-GRANTS (1-888-447-2687) or email [email protected] to request a grant application.

Tuition Incentive Program (TIP)

Summary: TIP provides need-based tuition assistance for the first two years of college and beyond—only students who meet a Medicaid eligibility history requirement can apply. Eligible students must be enrolled in courses leading to an associate degree or certificate at a participating Michigan institution. (Participating institutions are listed on the TIP Fact Sheet.) The award pays for up to 24 semester or 36 term credits per academic year; the total award cannot exceed 80 semester or 120 term credits.

TIP funding is given out in two phases:

  1. Phase I is applied to standard in-district tuition & mandatory fees for an associate degree or certificate program at a participating Michigan school. Certificate courses are defined as “at least a one-year training program that leads to a certificate (or other recognized educational credential), which prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”
  2. Phase II provides a maximum of $2,000 total tuition assistance for credits earned in a four-year program at an in-state, degree-granting college or university.

Eligibility: You must have received Medicaid coverage, as determined by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), for 24 months within any 36-consecutive month period between age 9 and high school graduation. SSG will only accept certification by DHHS for Medicaid benefits received while in Michigan.

You must also:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or approved refugee
  • Be a Michigan resident as determined by institutional criteria
  • Provide evidence of eligibility (i.e. submit a copy of the “eligibility letter” to the college Financial Aid Office)
  • Obtain a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent prior to age 20
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in a certificate program or degree
  • Begin using TIP within four years of high school graduation
  • Meet the institution’s satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy
  • Not be incarcerated (does not include detention of a juvenile in a State-operated or privately operated detention facility)
  • Not be in default on a Federal/State student loan

Eligible students must apply prior to high school graduation.

How to Apply: The DHHS alerts SSG when students have met the Medicaid eligibility requirement. After you’ve been identified as TIP eligible, SSG will send you an application form which must be completed and returned to SSG before August 31 of your graduating year from high school (or its recognized equivalent). SSG will send you an “eligibility letter” during your senior year of high school. You’ll need to present this letter to your college Financial Aid Office upon enrollment to receive TIP payment. TIP targets students with financial need, so you’re also strongly encouraged to file a FAFSA.

Michigan Student Scholarships

Fostering Futures Scholarship (FFS)

Summary: FFS is only available to young adults in Michigan who have experienced foster care. Eligible students must have been in foster care on or after their 13th birthday, but there is no upper age limit—students can receive FFS funding at any age. However, recipients must attend a Michigan degree-granting public or private 4-year college/university or a community college.

FFS money is administered by the student’s choice of institution and can be used to cover tuition & fees, room & board and books & supplies. Award amounts are based on unmet need and will vary depending on the student’s financial aid package.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Have been in foster care due to abuse/neglect on or after your 13th birthday (there is no upper age limit)
  • Be an undergraduate, attending a Michigan public or private 4-year college/university or a community college at least half time
  • Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards as set by the institution

How to Apply: Complete the online Foster Futures Scholarship Application. The FFS is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

GEAR UP College Day (GUCD) Scholarship

Summary: The GUCD Scholarship is given to low-income GEAR UP participants who have successfully completed the six-year GEAR UP College Day Program in middle school and high school. Participating GEAR UP institutions (15 public universities in Michigan) nominate eligible scholarship recipients based on program involvement. Awards are $5,500 per academic year for full-time students, but cannot exceed the cost of attendance.

Eligibility: Along with successfully completing the GEAR UP College Day Program, you must:

  • Be a resident of Michigan
  • Possess a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent using the Michigan Merit Based Curriculum
  • Be eligible for a Pell grant
  • Enroll at least half time at a participating Michigan public degree-granting college
  • Be less than 22 years old
  • Use the scholarship within six (6) years of high school graduation

How to Apply: Complete the six-year GUCD program at a GEAR UP school/s. The partner university will nominate you based on your program involvement.

GEAR UP Michigan Scholarship

Summary: This scholarship is aimed at low-income GEAR UP participants who have successfully completed the six-year Urban Centers Program in middle school and high school. This program is available in three urban public school systems: Detroit, Flint and Muskegon. Scholarship recipients are nominated by their school district. Award amounts vary.

Eligibility: Along with successfully completing the GEAR UP Urban Centers Program, you must:

  • Be a resident of Michigan
  • Possess a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent using the Michigan Merit Based Curriculum
  • Be eligible for a Pell grant
  • Enroll at least half time at a participating Michigan degree-granting college
  • Be less than 22 years old
  • Use the scholarship within five (5) years of high school graduation

How to Apply: Complete the six-year Urban Centers Program at a GEAR UP school/s. Your school district will nominate you for a scholarship.

Michigan Competitive Scholarship (MCS)

Summary: The MCS is a need-based and merit-based award. Students must have a qualifying ACT score of at least 23 (composite) or 90 (scaled) in order to be eligible. They must also be undergraduates pursuing their first degrees at an approved Michigan postsecondary institution. (Participating schools are listed on the MCS Fact Sheet.)

Award money can be used for tuition & mandatory frees. In 2015-2016, the annual award amount was $636 at a Michigan public university/college and $1,830 at Michigan independent university/college; the scholarship is limited to 10 semesters or 15 terms.

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or approved refugee
  • Be a Michigan resident since July 1 of the previous calendar year
  • Provide your Social Security number to SSG by phone during your senior year in high school
  • Demonstrate financial need (scientific calculation done through FAFSA)
  • Achieve a qualifying ACT score of at least 23 (composite) or 90 (scaled score) prior to entering college
  • Hold a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent
  • Enroll at least half time at an approved Michigan community college, public university or independent, degree-granting college or university
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0
  • Meet the institution’s satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy
  • Not be incarcerated
  • Not be in default on a Federal/State student loan

How to Apply: File your FAFSA. Students who file their FAFSA by March 1 receive priority consideration. The award is based on the first choice of college that you list on the FAFSA.

Michigan Student Loans & Repayment Programs

Michigan Nursing Scholarship (MNS)

Summary: It’s called a nursing scholarship, but the MNS is a loan forgiveness program by any other name. In return for an annual scholarship—up to $4,000 for full-time students, $3,000 for 3/4 time and $2,000 for half-time—students must agree to work as a direct patient care nurse in an eligible Michigan facility or as a teacher of nursing at an eligible Michigan institution, one year for each year of assistance. If award recipients fail to complete the service requirement, the MNS converts to a loan, which must be repaid with interest.

The MNS is available to Michigan residents enrolled at least half-time in a program leading to a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Eligibility: You must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be a Michigan resident for one year prior to enrollment
  • Enroll at least half-time in a nursing program at an approved Michigan community college, public university or independent, degree-granting college/university
  • Agree to gain licensure and eligible direct nursing care employment or eligible employment as a teacher of nursing in Michigan within one year of completing the academic program
  • Agree to repay the scholarship if the work requirement or other program provisions are not met
  • Not have been convicted of a felony involving an assault, physical injury or death
  • Meet the institution’s satisfactory academic progress (SAP) policy

How to Apply: Individual colleges/universities are responsible for awarding the MNS, so please check with your school’s Financial Aid Office to see if you need to submit a separate scholarship form. Funds are limited and only students selected by their institution are eligible. Schools have the right to prioritize awards by need, high academic performance or other factors.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Summary: This is a federal program designed to encourage college graduates to enter the teaching profession. Individuals who agree to teach for five, full-time consecutive years in high-need elementary/secondary schools across Michigan can qualify for forgivable student loans—up to $17,500 in principal and interest on FFEL and/or Direct Loan program loans.

Eligibility: A full list of eligibility requirements can be found on the Federal Student Aid website. You can search for eligible Michigan schools on the Teacher Cancellation Low-Income (TCLI) Directory.

How to Apply: You can only apply for teacher loan forgiveness after you have completed the five-year teaching requirement. The Federal Student Aid website has a link to a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application.

Education Assistance for Michigan Military & Veterans

Children of Veterans Tuition Grant (CVTG)

Summary: The CVTG is available to children (natural or adopted) of Michigan veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed, are missing in action (MIA) or have been permanently disabled. Eligible children who are older than 16 and less than 26 years of age receive undergraduate assistance of up to $2,800 per academic year for up to four years ($11,200 total) or an amount equal to all of the student’s eligible tuition in that academic year, whichever is less. This money can only be used for tuition and mandatory fees.

Eligibility: In the case of this grant, veterans must have been a legal resident of Michigan immediately before entering military service and must not have later resided outside of Michigan for more than two years; or have established legal residency in Michigan after entering military service. He/she must also:

  1. Have been killed in action or died from another cause while serving a war or war condition in which the U.S. is/was participating OR
  2. Have died or become totally & permanently disabled as the result of a service connected illness or injury as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs OR
  3. Have been totally & permanently disabled as the result of a service-connected illness or injury prior to death and has now died OR
  4. Be listed as missing in action (MIA) in a foreign country as determined by the U.S. government.

The student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Be a Michigan resident for one year prior to program application
  • Be the natural or adopted child of a Michigan veteran (stepchildren and grandchildren are not eligible)
  • Be older than 16 and less than 26 years of age
  • Enroll at least half-time in an approved Michigan community college, public university or independent, degree granting college or university (the CVTG Fact Sheet has a full list)
  • Not have been convicted of a felony involving assault, physical injury or death
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.25 for renewal of the grant
  • Not be in default on a Federal/State student loan

How to Apply: Complete the separate CVTG Application.

Michigan National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program (MINGSTAP)

Summary: MINGSTAP provides tuition assistance to members of the Michigan National Guard who are attending any public or private college, university, vocational school, technical school or trade school located in Michigan. Recipients can receive up to $600 per credit hour and $6,000 per year for tuition and fees directly associated with classes. This money can be used for approved certificates, vocational training, technical training, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or a master’s/first professional degree program.

Eligibility: Members of the Michigan National Guard must:

  • Be currently active in the National Guard (including the traditional service of one weekend/month and two weeks/year)
  • Not be absent without leave (AWOL) or under UCMJ charges
  • Meet the additional criteria established by the TAG consistent with the guard’s recruiting and retention requirements

How to Apply: Complete the online MINGSTAP Application on the DMVA website.

Contact the Michigan Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs (DMVA) for more info on education benefits.

Additional Support for Michigan Students

Dual Enrollment

Summary: Michigan’s Dual Enrollment program covers the cost of college credit courses that students take during high school. In order to qualify for funding, these courses must lead toward postsecondary accreditation, certification and/or licensing and cannot be offered by the high school or academy. Students can take up to 10 postsecondary courses.

SSG pays the postsecondary institution for each eligible student. Funding includes tuition & mandatory fees, but not things like transportation, parking and activity fees.

Eligibility: In order to qualify for dual enrollment, you must:

  • Achieve a minimum qualifying score on the PSAT, SAT, PLAN, EXPLORE, ACT, COMPASS or MME
  • Be enrolled in an eligible high school (public or private) and eligible postsecondary institution during the local school’s regular academic year
  • Be enrolled in at least one high school class

How to Apply: Talk to your high school counselor to see if you are eligible for dual enrollment and qualify for tuition and fee support.

Cheaper College Living in Michigan

Even the cheapest college degree can still put a strain on household finances. If you and your family are starting to struggle with basic bills (e.g. heating, food, housing, child care, etc.), you could qualify for state benefits from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS). You may already know about programs like food stamps and Medicaid, but MDHHS also offers child care assistance, emergency relief, migrant services and temporary cash assistance for eligible pregnant women and low-income families with minor children.

Another option is to call 2-1-1 or visit the Michigan 211 website. 211 is a free service that connects Michigan residents to social service organizations and resources in their community. Worried about a possible eviction? Need help with transportation? Searching for affordable child care? Looking for info on veterans benefits? 211 consultants will point you in the right direction. You’ll also find help at your local Michigan Community Action Agency. Each agency has non-profit programs that provide low-income residents with emergency assistance and longer term solutions.

On-Campus Housing

Whichever way you slice the budget, on-campus housing is usually more expensive than an off-campus apartment. On the upside, living in a Michigan dorm means you’re not paying for commuting costs, rooms are typically furnished, utilities are included in the room rate and buildings are up-to-code. On the downside, you’re locked into pricey meal plans and fixed fees. Some luxury dorms are comparable to high-price apartment buildings.

To get a clear picture of your options, check out the Rates section of your school’s website—this will have up-to-date information on actual costs. For example, housing rates at MSU vary widely between halls. Remember, too, that you might be required to live on campus. For example, NMU has a general housing requirement for first year and second year undergraduates (exceptions are made for students living at home, veterans, older students, etc.). Be sure you know your school’s policy.

If you’re concerned that your financial aid package won’t cover housing costs, talk to your school’s residential life/housing coordinator or the Financial Aid Office about options. For instance, MSU has a full AT&T University Housing Scholarship for incoming freshmen; EMU’s Presidential Scholarship pays 30 credit hours per year of in-state tuition, housing, food allowance and mandatory fees (recipients must live in University halls for the first two years). You may also be eligible for private scholarships or work-study programs that will cover room and board.

Off-Campus Housing

To make college cheaper, a lot of low-income Michigan students opt to live at home or share an affordable off-campus apartment. That’s especially true for students attending commuter schools in urban areas (e.g. Detroit) that have little or no housing options. Budget calculators on Yahoo.com and CalcXML.com will help you compare on-campus costs (meal plans, dorm fees, etc.) with off-campus bills (groceries, utilities, etc.).

Once you’ve decided to live off-campus, you’re going to be swamped with choices. Many universities try to help students with this process by providing off-campus resources. For example, both UMich and MSU have hooked up with Off Campus Partners to provide websites; EMU has an Off-Campus site with advice, tenant resources and safety questionnaires; and Michigan Tech has Off Campus Housing listings.

But that’s just the beginning. In addition to postings on Craigslist, you may also find cheaper options on websites such as CampusRent.com, ApartmentGuide.com and MyApartmentMap.com, which allow you to target housing listings around your specific school. When a crisis hits, the Michigan Homeless Shelter Directory has listings of includes emergency shelters and transitional housing opportunities.

Utilities

Read your rental agreement/lease very carefully before signing. You need to know exactly what utilities you’re responsible for paying for and what your landlord is willing to cover. Heating bills in a state like Michigan can really add up. You can also ask for a monthly estimate of utility bills or talk to former renters so you can budget accordingly.

If you own your home or you’re living with your parents, you may also wish to investigate utility assistance programs. Government LIHEAP programs include the Home Heating Credit, State Emergency Relief (SER) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), but there are also lots of low-income programs run by private utility companies (e.g. Michigan Gas Utilities, Detroit Edison, Lansing Board of Water & Light, etc.) and non-profit organizations (e.g. THAW). Ask your utilities provider what’s available.

Medical & Dental

Almost every college and university in Michigan will have a student health center that offers free or low-cost care. This center is financed by mandatory fees, so take advantage of its services. Big universities tend to have fancier centers with lots of options—MSU’s Olin Health Center has radiology services, a pharmacy and a 24-hour phone information nurse—but even small schools will offer immunizations, physicals, tests, contraceptive counseling and referrals.

Have a problem that goes beyond the health center? Both FreeClinicDirectory.org and NeedyMeds.org list community clinics and health centers in Michigan that provide free/affordable healthcare. For mental health crises, the same procedure applies. Check in with the student health center (many provide basic counseling) before expanding your search to the MDHHS’s lists of Community Mental Health Service Programs, Centers and Free Clinics. The Mental Health Crisis/Suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Taking care of your teeth may involve a little more research. Although most student health centers don’t offer dental care, they will usually be able to refer you to local providers. if you’re lucky enough to live near the UDM School of Dentistry or the UMich School of Dentistry, you’ll find that they charge significantly less than private practice because they’re training student dentists. You can also search for free and low-cost dental clinics on FreeDentalCare.us and the MDHHS website page, Free or Low Cost Care from a Dentist.

Child Care

Finding affordable child care can mean the difference between a college degree and the end of a dream. Schools such as Eastern Michigan University, Michigan State University, and University of Michigan Ann Arbor offer child care services. Contact schools in your area to find out which campuses provide this type of support to student parents. Once you have a short list of college daycare centers, you can ask them about help for low-income families. For example, UMich offers a Child Care Subsidy to students with financial need.

Nothing cheap available on campus? Great Start to Quality has a list of licensed and registered child care providers in your area; you can also call the hotline 877-61GREATSTART (877-614-7328) for free information about affordable options. Remember, too, that you may be eligible for Michigan’s Child Development and Care (CDC) Subsidy Program or the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), a free preschool for four-year-olds.

Transportation

We know that your transport costs are going to depend on a lot on your personal circumstances (e.g. car vs. bus vs. bike) and choice of college (urban vs. suburban vs. rural). Nevertheless, we still recommend a quick visit to the transportation section of your Michigan college’s website. It’s usually chock’a’block with info on ride sharing, carpools, bike programs, free campus shuttles, zipcars and more. UMich even has a Commute Calculator to help you compare costs.

In addition, many Michigan schools have formed partnerships with local transit companies to provide students with hefty discounts. For example, students with an EMU 30-Day pass or a UMich MCard ride free on TheRide buses. Students with a valid college ID get lower price tickets on city services like the The Rapid and CATA. And national carriers such as Amtrak and Greyhound also offer student deals.

Food

Please don’t go hungry to stay in class! A lot of Michigan colleges and universities are waking up to the fact that food insecurity is a real issue for students—especially for those who are ineligible for Bridge Card assistance. Schools like EMU, MSU, UMich, WSU, GVSU, WMu and more host food pantries on campus. You’ll find a complete list of these on CUFBA’s Our Members page.

If you’re at a college without a pantry, you can try contacting community organizations in your local neighborhood. FoodPantries.org has a long list of Michigan Food Pantries and HomelessShelterDirectory.org has a similar database of MI soup kitchens, pantries and food banks. Some of these pantries will have eligibility requirements; some won’t. New moms or moms-to-be might also want to see if they qualify for the Michigan WIC Program.

SEE ALSO: our Encyclopedic Guide to Saving Money as a College Student.

Find Support in Your Area

College in Detroit on a Budget

Detroit is famous for its cheap rents and its story of urban decay/resurgence. While the average cost of living for most things (e.g. utilities, groceries, transportation, etc.) in 2016 was around the national average, the cost of housing was extraordinarily low. If you’re living off campus, you may be shelling out for gas (Detroit is a big city geographically speaking and public transport is weak), heating & water bills and car insurance. General info for residents can be found on the City of Detroit website.

Where to Go for Help in Detroit

Detroit has been working hard to develop ways to make college more affordable for its residents. To get you started, we’ve picked a number of student scholarship programs and Detroit organizations that can help with college preparation. This is just a small sample of what’s out there!

  • Detroit Promise Zone guarantees all Detroit high school graduates can receive two free years of tuition for an associate degree or technical certificate at a participating community college. Programs that are not Pell-eligible are not covered by the Detroit Promise.
  • Detroit College Promise (DCP) is a completely separate scholarship program to Detroit Promise. It provides every DPS graduate who is accepted to—and attends—a Michigan college or university with some level of financial support. DCP also has useful list of Detroit College Scholarships.
  • Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation (DHDC) has GED and ESL classes, as well as youth-targeted programs (e.g. Youth Ambassador Scholarship), housing counseling and more.
  • The Youth Connection, Inc. provides all kinds of future-focused programs, including Career Academies, Nutrition Education and Substance Abuse Prevention. Special attention is given to underrepresented and underserved youth.
  • Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (UNI) has teen and young adult apprenticeships programs that support advanced workplace training or postsecondary education. It also offers free preschool education at the All Saints Neighborhood Center.

More general community resources include MetroParent.com, JuliesList.Homestead.com, Focus: HOPE and the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency. You can also search by category (e.g. education, food, etc.) in the directory of Detroit, MI non-profits on CharityBlossom.org.

College in Grand Rapids on a Budget

Overall, Grand Rapids is a fairly affordable city. The average cost of living is below the norm and housing costs are reasonable. Some students like the free downtown/art activities, the Frederik Meijer Gardens, the lack of traffic and the feel of suburban safety; others complain about the cold (i.e. heating bills). General info for residents can be found on the City of Grand Rapids website.

Where to Go for Help in Grand Rapids

Do you already live in Grand Rapids? Going to high school and trying to find info on local scholarships? Thinking of returning to college but need a GED class or help with landing a part-time job to support your dream? Some of these non-profits may be able to help.

  • The Grand Rapids Community Foundation awards hundreds of annual scholarships to Kent County students bound for—or in—college, or those pursuing a technical career.
  • GRTeens.com is run by teens and offers info on job & volunteer opportunities, college scholarships (including migrant and minority funding) and fun things to do on the weekends.
  • The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan has all kinds of services for Hispanics, including GED classes, immigration assistance, help with basic needs and translation services. Its Supporting Our Leaders (SOL) Youth Program provides Latino youth with the knowledge, resources and tools needed to graduate from high school and enter college or the workforce.
  • The Grand Rapids Urban League empowers African Americans and other minorities to achieve economic self-reliance, parity and civil rights. Along with various housing and health initiatives, it offers advice on career development, job interviews and postsecondary education.

You can also search by category (e.g. education, food, etc.) in the directory of Grand Rapids, MI non-profits on CharityBlossom.org.

College in Lansing on a Budget

Lansing is billed as an affordable suburban city with MSU as an anchor to the east. The average cost of living was lower than Grand Rapids in 2016 and housing costs were less than half the national average. Lansing and East Lansing are flat, and driving is standard, so MSU students often opt for mopeds. It’s a northern city, so be prepared for high heating bills in the winter. Lansing natives also complain about the lack of nightlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation. General info for residents can be found on the City of Lansing website.

Where to Go for Help in Lansing

Every challenge has a solution. In Lansing, many non-profit organizations are willing to help residents, refugees, high school students and adult learners achieve their college dreams.

  • The Lansing Promise is a scholarship offered to high school graduates of public and private schools within the Lansing School District (“LSD”) boundaries. It provides the financial assistance necessary to obtain a two-year degree—or its equivalent—at Lansing Community College or $5,000 to attend Michigan State University.
  • Advent House Ministries offers a GED Academy, transitional housing, nutritional food programs and recreation and learning activities for children.
  • The Global Institute of Lansing (GIL) helps refugee and immigrant students—even students who have aged out of the public school system—complete high school and earn a diploma. The GIL classroom combines ESL training with other academic subject areas.

You can also search by category (e.g. education, food, etc.) in the directory of Lansing, MI non-profits on CharityBlossom.org.

Indiana

View Colleges

Wisconsin

View Colleges