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Checkbook Basics

8/6/13 Garrett Potter and Emily Adama spin The Cube at Regents Plaza during a "Day in the Life" of the University of Michigan on August 6, 2013.

Developing ownership of your personal finances will be one of the most important skills you’ll gain during your time at the University of Michigan. One of the key aspects of this skill set is handling your incoming funds, such as financial aid refunds and earnings from on-campus employment. This article will help you cover the basics of these transactions, as well as direct you to pertinent resources if you want to learn more.

To start, you need to know the basics of how to cash a check. If you are a student employee or a Work-Study student, you have the option of having your checks mailed to you to be manually deposited or cashed.

Checks can be cashed whether you or not you have an account with a bank or credit union (although having one will be highly beneficial throughout your time in college!). Regardless of whether you have an account, all you need to do to cash a check is to find an institution with the ability to cash checks and bring your endorsed (signed) check to this institution (don’t endorse your check too early to prevent someone else from being able to cash it if it gets lost). These could include:

  • Your own bank or credit union
  • The bank or credit union that is on the check
  • Major retail and grocery stores

Keep in mind you’ll likely need some form of identification in order to prove you are the rightful recipient of the check.

If you have an account at a bank or credit union, checks can be deposited by visiting your banking institution, endorsing the check, and filling out a deposit form. Once completed and processed, the check funds will appear in your account.

Direct Deposit

While cashing a check at a brick-and-mortar location may be the traditional option, setting up direct deposit is far more convenient. Direct deposit allows you to arrange for your financial aid funds or Work-Study income to be deposited directly into a bank account of your choosing.

To set this up, visit Wolverine Access and navigate to the Payroll and Compensation section. There, you can select “Direct Deposit” and input pertinent account information. Once this is established, you’ll receive an email every time an automatic deposit is made.

Unwanted or Misplaced Checks

If you receive a check allocating funds you no longer want to receive, please contact the Office of Financial Aid ( to arrange for return of the funds. Please note, if you receive a check with a student loan obligation, not cashing this check does not automatically remove your loan obligation. If you no longer want your loan, please advise us immediately so that the loan can be reduced on your account and the proceeds sent back to the lender. A stop payment will be placed on the check and your customer account will show the check has been reversed.

If you lost or never received your earnings check, please contact the University of Michigan Payroll Office (734-615-2000) to have it reissued (Work-Study payroll checks expire 180 days after issue). For all questions pertaining to any paycheck that has not been cashed or received and/or has been misplaced, please contact the Payroll Office (734-615-2000). If you receive a refund check, please contact the Office of Financial Aid (

If you would like to learn more about financial savvy, consider enrolling in ALA 115, The Financially Savvy Student.