When discussing a student’s eligibility for financial aid, we refer to requirements a student must meet and to the amount of aid the student is eligible to receive. This page explains requirements for receiving federal need-based financial aid and how we determine the amount of aid. Eligible students receive financial aid at the beginning of each term.

Cost of Attendance

Cost of Attendance is the estimated cost to attend U-M for fall and winter terms, including estimated tuition and fees, books and supplies, and housing and meals, plus a modest allowance for personal/miscellaneous expenses. The budget allows the same housing and meals budget whether you live on or off campus, unless you live with your parents and then you will get less.

Student Aid Index (SAI)

The Student Aid Index (SAI) is a formula applied uniformly to all aid applicants and considers information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and, for entering applicants, the CSS Profile, in addition to other documents we request. The FAFSA determines eligibility for federal aid, and the CSS Profile determines eligibility for U-M gift aid.

Your SAI is made up of two parts:

  • Parent Contribution: What parents are expected to pay toward annual college costs, based on a formula that considers:
    • Income and assets (cash, checking, savings, and money market accounts; investments and real estate holdings; and business equity)
    • Allowance for living expenses (based on family size)
    • Taxes paid
    • Retirement asset protection
  • Student Contribution: What a student is expected to pay based on income, savings, and other assets.

Your SAI is determined early in the process of assessing your financial need and, unless your circumstances change, your SAI remains constant for your time at U-M. Financial aid is not applied against student and parent contributions.

While this number represents the amount of aid you are eligible to receive based on costs and your resources, the amount of aid that you will receive depends on aid funds available in any given year. See How Aid Is Awarded for more information about how the university distributes financial aid resources.

A note about applying for financial aid: When you apply for financial aid at U-M using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), we verify the information you submitted to the federal processor. We will sometimes ask you for additional information and review other university records during the application process. Your FAFSA record may be corrected based upon this information.

Other Financial Resources

Students may seek private scholarships and get help from U-M schools and colleges to meet their college costs. They may also use other resources, such as ROTC scholarships, housing, and veterans' benefits. These are considered as financial resources when determining need-based aid eligibility. However, they will improve your overall aid package. In general, if you receive outside aid (including scholarships from U-M schools and colleges):

  • It is first applied against costs not accounted for in your financial aid package (i.e. the gap between the Cost of Attendance and your EFC plus the aid offered). Outside aid will not reduce the amount a student and family are expected to pay.
  • Next, it reduces your loan or Work-Study, reducing funds you must borrow or earn by working.
  • Your grant aid is only reduced if all loan and Work-Study funds are replaced by scholarships or other resources.

Some important exceptions to this rule:

  • Some Office of Financial Aid scholarships are awarded based on student need. This may reduce your U-M Grant, but your total aid should remain the same or be higher.
  • If you own a 529 plan, such as a Michigan Education Trust contract; receive a post-9/11 VA benefit; or if you receive a state-funded scholarship such as the Michigan Competitive Scholarship (MCS), or the Detroit Compact Scholarship, Wade McCree Scholarship, or Detroit Promise, it will be applied against your need-based grants before reducing your loan or Work-Study.
  • Receiving a Wade McCree, Detroit Compact, or Detroit Promise scholarship will reduce your eligibility for the university-funded U-M Grant; the Jean Fairfax, Tappan, Presidential, HAIL, and Wolverine Pathways scholarships; and for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship.
  • M-PACT and U-M grants are reduced before loan and Work-Study.

Please note that some scholarships require full-time enrollment before they will disburse.