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

The cost of attendance budget also represents the maximum amount of financial aid (grants, loans, scholarships, Federal Work-Study, parent and private student loans) a student can receive.

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. The FAFSA can be completed online at

When should I file my FAFSA?

Each year the FAFSA application is available beginning October 1 for the academic year that will begin the FOLLOWING FALL.  You should complete the application by March 1 to allow adequate time for you to respond to requests for additional documentation, if needed. Applying after March 1 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 Fall semester bills are generated. A new application must be completed for each academic year.

Why should I use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool?

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool links your finalized tax data directly from the IRS’s records. Using it means that your FAFSA will be completed with the most accurate data possible, and we recommend that you use the tool when you initially fill out your FAFSA. If you are selected for verification, the DRT is one of the steps involved with that process, so it means there is one less step to be completed at a later date. It is not mandatory for the submission of the FAFSA, but highly recommended.

NOTE: If you filed an amended or foreign tax return, you are ineligible for the Data Retrieval Tool. In the scenario where you are selected for verification, you would need to request a Tax Return Transcript from the IRS, or submit a signed copy of your Federal Income Tax Return.

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.

When will I receive my financial aid package?

Offers begin in December for the following academic year and continues on a rolling basis. New students who have not yet attended NMU will be notified of offers and required information through letters sent by regular mail. Once students complete Orientation, 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 offers 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.

My FAFSA has 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? How do I request a copy of the IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter if my parents or I did not file a federal tax return?

Parents and students can order a tax return transcript from the IRS online or by phone, or can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool on the FAFSA website. Follow the instructions under the "Selected for Verification?" section on our website at

Will I 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 be eligible for financial aid, undergraduate students must maintain a 2.00 cumulative NMU grade point average.
  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 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.

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.

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 Federal Work-Study and how do I find a job on campus?

Federal Work-Study(FWS) is a type of financial aid that encourages college students to engage in part-time employment while attending college. To qualify for FWS, you must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and indicate on it that you are interested in FWS, demonstrate financial need through the results of your FAFSA and meet the satisfactory academic progress standards. FWS is not directly applied toward your bill but is paid bi-weekly based on hours worked and level of hourly wage. Funding for FWS is limited. FWS 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, death, 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?

All first year students who apply to NMU are automatically considered for the Wildcat Achievement Scholarship. Non-Michigan resident students who apply to NMU are automatically considered for the National Academic Award. The National Academic Award can be added to the Wildcat Achievement Scholarship.

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.

I received a letter stating I am eligible for a scholarship from NMU based on my 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.

I received a private scholarship. What do I do with the check and will it affect my financial aid?

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