Does the U-M Child Care Subsidy Program require that I use a child care provider licensed by the State of Michigan?
Yes. To align with the university's plans for a public-health informed semester, in which students pursued their education through hybrid, and/or remote formats, the university temporarily changed eligibility criteria for the Child Care Subsidy beginning fall term 2020 through spring/summer 2022. During that temporary period, child care expenses from any licensed child care provider were eligible for reimbursement under the subsidy, regardless of the state, country, or agency of licensure. Eligibility will once again be limited to the State of Michigan as of fall 2022.
How is financial need determined for the Child Care Subsidy?
The child care subsidy is need-based funding. Eligibility is based on a formula including a student’s Cost of Attendance (including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and personal and miscellaneous expenses) less contributions from income and assets and other sources of financial aid. All income and assets are documented on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is used to calculate financial aid.
Why are Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) appointments and fellowship funding treated differently when determining financial need?
The GSI stipend is considered regular income, whereas a fellowship stipend is considered financial aid, so the two are treated differently in the formula. Earnings are reported on the FAFSA and used to calculate a student contribution, allowing certain offsets for living expenses based on federally established standards. Financial aid, such as GSI tuition waivers and fellowships, reduce financial need on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
What is the impact if I receive additional assistance after the child care subsidy is awarded?
This might include graduate students receiving grants for travel and dissertations or undergraduates receiving a scholarship. These resources could affect eligibility and should always be reported to the Office of Financial Aid. However, many graduate students may have additional, related costs that can lessen or eliminate this impact. Document these costs and submit them to our office for review. Be proactive by reporting any grant to our office and carefully document expenses relating to it.
Why does the university require partners/spouses to be enrolled in a college degree program or be employed in order to qualify for a child care subsidy?
If a partner/spouse is not working or enrolled in school, it is the expectation that this person would be available to care for a child or children. The funds for this program are limited, so they are always awarded as a matter of policy to families with both parents enrolled in school, or those that have one parent in school and one working (or a combination of being employed and in school). Financial aid staff verifies the partner/spouse's employment and/or enrollment as part of this program. The U-M Community has resources available to assist with child care and other family issues. These include the U-M Work-Life Resource Center’s website.
What does it mean to have a partner/spouse that is gainfully employed?
This can include full- or part-time employment in a traditional vein, including both working at an employer's site or telecommuting in a flexible work situation. It can also include self-employment that brings in a living wage for the family. Our office may require substantiation from an employer as to an employee's unique work situation or copies of tax returns to verify self-employment income. The final determination of an employment situation will be made by the Office of Financial Aid during application review.
What about summer camps? How are they handled?
The purpose of the subsidy is to assist with licensed child care costs; it is not intended to pay for participation in education or enrichment programs. Summer camps licensed or administered by a licensed day care facility or provider meet the requirements; the subsidy does not cover children's participation in competitive sport programs such as soccer or baseball teams.
Additional research funding reduced my Child Care Subsidy. Can I get it back?
The Child Care Subsidy, along with many other forms of financial aid authorized through the Office of Financial Aid, are based upon both the Cost of Attendance (COA) and the demonstrated need of the student. To determine need, the university uses a “standard” Cost of Attendance (sometimes referred to as your budget) that is the same for all students in your particular program. We subtract your Expected Family Contribution (the number that is given to you when you complete a FAFSA) from the Cost of Attendance and the resulting amount is your demonstrated need.
For example: if your COA is $48,000 and your Expected Family Contribution is $5,000, your demonstrated need would be $43,000. If your financial aid, including the Child Care Subsidy, was reduced after receiving other assistance, your total aid exceeded your demonstrated need.
It may be possible to restore some, or all, of the reduced aid through a Cost of Attendance re-evaluation. There are two processes you can use:
- The department providing additional assistance may contact us. If you have submitted expense documentation to your department, the department can forward that to our office and we may be able to increase your student budget or cost of attendance. For example; if you are traveling for research, copies of airfare expenses or a mileage statement signed by your academic advisor can be used to increase expenses and offset the award being offered. This would result in no change to your initial Child Care Subsidy. If you did not give your department documentation, share that with the Office of Financial Aid to prevent a reduction in your aid or so we can consider your situation.
- You may request an adjustment for any expenses that exceed our standard budget amounts. A worksheet becomes available each October which identifies the amounts used to create your COA. You may then review these costs, identify those expenses that exceed (or are not included) in the COA and submit the completed worksheet along with the documentation of each expense to request an adjustment.
This same process can be used to determine if the Office of Financial Aid can restore other forms of assistance such as a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and/or a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan.