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 $88 million in financial aid from many different sources.


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.


How do I view my financial aid awards and check if more action is required on my part?

Students can view their financial aid and check for outstanding requirements online through their MyNMU account. Follow the instructions on our website at Be sure to click on both the Student Requirements link and the Active Messages link, as many non-standard document requests will be shown on the Active Messages screen rather than the Student Requirements screen.


How can I give the Financial Aid Office and the Student Service Center permission to speak to my parents or other about my financial aid and billing information?

In accordance with the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the Financial Aid Office and the Student Service Center are prohibited from releasing information concerning a student's financial aid, student account status and all financial records without written consent of the student. If you would like the Financial Aid Office and Student Service Center to discuss your financial aid, student account status and all financial records with persons or agencies that are not covered under this law, please complete and sign a Release of Information Form, which is available here and in the Financial Aid Office. If you fax or mail the form, please be sure to include a copy of your driver's license.


I have been selected for verification and the Financial Aid Office needs to verify my and/or my parent's tax information from the IRS. How do I request a copy of my IRS Tax Return transcript or link my tax information from the IRS to the FAFSA?

Parents and students can download a copy of their IRS Tax Return Transcripts online, order a copy from the IRS online or by phone, or can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA website. Follow the instructions listed under the "Selected for Verification?" section on our website.


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.


If I do not perform well academically, will it impact my financial aid?

Please refer to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.


What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?

Federal law requires all students who receive financial aid to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) toward their degree. The following is a brief summary of the three SAP requirements students must meet to maintain financial aid eligibility:

  1. Credit Hour Pace - Students must earn at least 67 percent of the credit hours which they attempt. This calculation includes all accepted transfer credit hours as well as credit hours attempted at NMU.
  2. Grade Point Average (GPA) - To meet graduation requirements, undergraduate programs require a minimum grade point average of 2.0. To be eligible for financial aid, students must meet the Academic Proficiency Standards as outlined in the Undergraduate Bulletin.
  3. Maximum Credit Hours - Undergraduate students are limited to receiving aid for up to 150% of the credit hours required for completion of their program of study. Transfer students will be evaluated by adding their accepted transfer hours to attempted hours at NMU, allowing students to receive aid for the balance of the maximum length of their program.

All students should familiarize themselves with the entire Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy which can be viewed here.


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

Eighty-five percent (85 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.


I have been offered Federal student loans. How do I learn more, understand the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans, accept or decline these awards, sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN) and complete Entrance Counseling, and learn more about what my payments will look like after I graduate?

Federal student loans are borrowed from the Federal Government to help pay for college. More information and the answers to the above questions can be found here.

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.


I do not have enough financial aid to cover my bill. Where can I look for additional aid?

Other options for financial aid can include searching for scholarships, the Federal Parent PLUS Loan, and alternative private loans. More information can be found here.


What is Work Study and how do I find a job on campus?

Work study is a type of financial aid that encourages college students to engage in part-time employment while attending college. To qualify for work study, you must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and indicate on it that you are interested in work study, demonstrate financial need through the results of your FAFSA and meet the satisfactory academic progress standards. Work study is not directly applied toward your bill but is paid in a bi-weekly check based on hours worked and level of hourly wage. Funding for work study is limited. Work study positions can be viewed once you are registered for classes and have set up your "Cat Career Tracks" employment profile.


My family circumstances have changed. How do I request a re-evaluation of my financial aid?

If a family experiences situations such as the loss of a job, retirement, separation or divorce or excessive out of pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance, they should complete a "Request for Re-Evaluation of Financial Assistance" and provide supporting documentation. The form is available here. Please feel free to contact our office to speak to a Financial Aid Counselor regarding your situation.


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 site.


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.