The new State Scholarship Program offers colleges students up to $5,500 per year.
When fully implemented, the program will cost the state $562 million annually.
Most students are eligible as long as they complete the FAFSA.
Thanks to the new Michigan Achievement Scholarship, most University of Michigan freshmen entering next year are relieved of tuition concerns.
The program will cost the State of Michigan $169 million in fiscal year 2023-24 and more than $562 million in four years. But it’s good news for families with college-going students to save thousands of dollars in tuition and fees.
Actively supported by the Michigan Legislature and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the scholarship program has fewer restrictions than previous college application programs and simplifies the application process.
Here’s what you need to know:
How much money can students get?
The program offers up to $5,500 to students enrolled in Michigan’s 15 public universities. The program also offers up to $4,000 per student at state private, non-profit colleges and up to $2,750 per student at community colleges.
Scholarships are renewable for a maximum of 5 years.
Related programs also offer $2,000 for up to two years for “qualified vocational training programs” such as manufacturing, information technology, health care, and construction industries.
Who is eligible?
A person who has graduated from high school in 2023 or has obtained the equivalent of high school.
Must attend college full-time, maintain satisfactory academic progress, and apply for all available scholarship assistance each year the student applies for a scholarship.
The student must be a resident of Michigan for at least one year, be enrolled in the universities in Michigan, and have an estimated family contribution of less than $25,000 to annual college expenses as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This amount may seem low, but it is not. The estimated family contribution of the average American family with a gross income of $55,000 is typically between $3,000 and $4,000.
An online calculator (https://tamingthehighcostofcollege.com/expected-family-contribution-efc-calculator) estimates that a family of four with one college student is eligible even if the adjusted gross income is $108,000.
So, isn’t the new program helpful for students who are already in college?
For now, it is only available to students graduating from high school starting next spring.
“Perhaps there will be other opportunities to lower costs for those who have already registered,” Governor Whitmer told reporters on Tuesday.
Currently enrolled students have access to more limited state assistance options.
Michigan students currently attending college are eligible for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship of up to $1,500 per year, but the grant is only available to students who score 1200 or higher on the SAT.
Most Michigan residents over the age of 25 can attend Michigan Community College without tuition through Michigan Reconnect. However, people who do not live in the community college area are excluded.
How do I apply? How do I know if I can get it?
Fill out the FAFSA. The form is automatically considered for new state scholarships and federal Pell Grants.
Once you apply for and get accepted into college, school officials will tell you how much financial aid you are getting from various sources.
Dawn Aubry, director of enrollment management at Oakland University, said her biggest advice is for students to fill out the FAFSA and apply to multiple schools to see the various financial aid offers.
However, it is difficult for high school students to complete the FAFSA application on their own. Michigan ranks 29th nationally for FAFSA completion rates, accounting for only about 52% of graduating seniors.
What if I live in the Promise Zone and I’m already taking free classes? Can I still get an extra check in this case?
No. The Michigan Achievement Scholarship is limited to actual college fees.
Michigan has 15 Promise Zones that offer free or reduced tuition at some colleges and universities. Many other students receive some financial aid. Some Michigan Achievement Scholarship funds may be used for other college expenses, such as room and board, if tuition is paid through other aids.
However, even in this case, the funds are transferred to the registered institution, not to the student.
Ted Kim / miasian.com@miasian