Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

Detailed information about the financial aid process can be found throughout the Financial Aid website.

How much is total cost of attendance and what is included in the cost?

The estimated cost of attendance [COA] is an estimate of the costs a typical student may incur over the fall and winter semesters combined. This figure is used in determining your financial aid eligibility and includes both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board. Indirect costs include transportation and personal expenses. Current COA budgets can be found at the Estimated Cost of Attendance page.


What is the deadline for financial aid?

The FAFSA should be completed by March 1 for the school year beginning in the fall. Applying after March 1st limits the availability for aid from the State of Michigan. Applying by March 1 also assures that the student will have time to complete the process by the time school begins. A new application must be completed for each academic year.


What is the FAFSA?

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the application students must complete to be eligible for any need based financial aid, including federal student loans. Information on federal financial aid programs can be found at the Federal Financial Aid page. You should never pay anyone to complete this form for you. Feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office if you have questions about this form.


How is the amount of financial aid I receive determined?

Once a student completes a FAFSA, the results are sent to all of the schools listed by the student on the FAFSA.  If the student has been admitted to the school, upon receipt of the information the school will determine the amount of financial aid that the student is eligible to receive.  Individual eligibility depends on several factors, including family size and income, grade level and academic merit.


What is the average amount of financial assistance offered to students?

Financial aid can come from federal, state, institutional and private sources. Types of aid include grants, scholarships, student loans and part-time on-campus employment. NMU processes over $87 million in financial aid from many different sources.  On average, NMU students received more than $10,770 in financial aid per year from all sources (grants, scholarships, work study, and loans).


When will we receive our financial aid package?

Awarding begins in mid-to-late March and continues on a rolling basis.  New students who have not yet attended NMU will be notified of award packages and required information through letters sent by regular mail.  Once new students arrive on campus, e-mail notices to NMU e-mail accounts will replace paper correspondence.  Returning students will receive only e-mail communication to their NMU e-mail address.  Once you have received your NMU user name and password, you can also check your financial aid status online at any time through MyNMU.


Will my son/daughter receive the same amount of financial aid all four years of school?

No. Eligibility for need-based aid will be determined each year based on the results of that year's FAFSA. Many academic scholarships are renewable and remain available at the same rate if the student maintains the required academic standards.


What percentage of students receive financial assistance either in the form of scholarships, loans and grants?

Eighty-three percent (83 percent) of NMU students receive financial assistance from an array of resources including grants and scholarships, part-time on-campus employment and student loans.


What is the difference between scholarships, grants, and loans?

Scholarships and grants are what most students think of as "free money." Student loans are funds that must be repaid, generally after the student graduates or leaves school.


Is it better to take out a Direct PLUS loan or a loan from my credit union?

Many options for alternative financing exist, and families should explore all options before deciding which one fits their needs and budget. Some additional alternative student loan products along with a guide on things to consider when looking at alternative loans can be found at the Alternative Loans Options page.


What loans can my son/daughter take out in his/her name? We want all loans in the student's name.  Is that possible?

The initial award letter tells the student what federal loans are available.  Students should exhaust all federal student loan options before pursuing private student loans.  Additional, supplemental loans can be obtained from state and other sources for both the student and the parents. Alternative student loans typically require co-signers.


When are payments due?

Payments for the fall semester are due in August. Detailed billing information will be sent to students in July. NMU offers payment plans to suit family budgets.


How can my son/daughter get a job on campus to help pay for college?

If requested on the FAFSA, Federal work study is awarded to Pell Grant eligible students based on need. The award represents the amount a student may earn by working on campus. Students without work study eligibility can still find jobs on campus. The best place to start is by pursuing leads on the Career Services page.


We have a "special situation" with our finances.  Who do I talk to about this?

If a family experiences situations such as the loss of a job, retirement, separation or divorce or large out of pocket medical expenses, they should complete a "Request for Re-Evaluation of Financial Assistance" available here. It would also be a good idea to talk to or meet with a Financial Aid counselor about the situation.


What information am I allowed to have access to in my son/daughter's file?

All information about the student's application and eligibility is protected by FERPA and is accessible only by the student. Information can not be given directly to parents, unless a student authorizes access through a Release of Information Form.


Scholarship Questions

What scholarships are available to students and how can I receive that information?

There are a number of academic and need based scholarships available to students who meet the criteria.  Award amounts range from $1,500 to $6,500 per year, and vary based on academic credentials and residency.  For additional information and to use the Net Price Calculator, please view NMU Scholarships

There are also program- and degree-specific scholarships available to students who qualify. Information on scholarships can be obtained at the Scholarship and Grants page.


My son/daughter received a letter stating they'll receive a scholarship from NMU based on their grades and ACT/SAT score; do I need to complete the FAFSA?

No. NMU scholarship recipients are not required to file a FAFSA. However, all interested students are encouraged to file a FAFSA to learn about their eligibility for need-based aid and loans.


My son/daughter received a private scholarship. What do we do with the check and will it affect their financial aid?

Forward the check to the NMU Student Services Office and they will apply the scholarship to the student's account. Private scholarships must be considered when need based financial aid is awarded. The impact on the student's financial aid eligibility depends on the student's need and the amount of the scholarship.