Do you have questions about financial aid?

Below are common financial aid questions. We're here to help. If you don't find the answer to your question, contact us.


What is financial aid?

Financial aid is any source of funds available to assist students to pay for the cost of a college education. Sources of aid usually take the form of a loan, grant or scholarship. It can also be a resource like employer tuition benefits. Any student who may need assistance in meeting college costs should make an application for financial aid.

One of the guiding principles of financial aid administration is that all student aid applications be treated in a fair and equitable manner. If you have special circumstances that impacts family income, you should review our Special Circumstances section to determine if an appeal would be appropriate.

Most financial aid assistance is based on demonstrated financial need; however, some scholarships and some types of loans do not require financial need. Most scholarships are based on special abilities and merit.


Cost of Attendance

Reasonable estimate of attending the university for an academic year. Components include an average of tuition and fees and allowances for books, supplies and equipment, transportation, miscellaneous expenses and even room and board. For students who live with parents or family, they will have an at home budget.  For students who rent an apartment or live at the Union, they will have an off-campus budget. You may view all of the academic year's budgets based on status, residency for both graduate and undergraduate categories Detailed Cost of Attendance page.

Expected Family Contribution

When a student submits a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the personal and financial information is analyzed for family financial strength using the EFC Formula. The family's ability to contribute to educational costs is based on income and assets of the parents and student. The product of this process is called Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The closer to zero, the greater the need for financial aid.

The parent contribution considers income (taxed and untaxed), assets (excluding the family home and certain retirement accounts) with offsets for living expenses, family size, taxes paid, number of dependents in college and a special asset protection allowance based on the older parent's age.

The student contribution considers student income and assets with offsets for certain taxes, a small income allowance and a percentage of savings/assets.

How is need determined?

Financial aid programs are based on the premise that the primary responsibility for paying for college lies with the student and his family. Need-based financial aid is available to those students whose family resources are inadequate to meet their college costs. The simple calculation used is:

  Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution (EFC) - Scholarships and Resources (e.g., employer tuition benefits) = Need for Aid (Demonstrated Need)

How is financial aid awarded?

If your need for aid indicates that you are eligible for financial aid, you will be offered a financial aid package. (Students who do not demonstrate any need using this calculation may still receive a financial aid award without need-based funds, such as Federal Direct Student Unsubsidized Loan.)

In addition to awarding university grants, the Office of Financial Aid coordinates aid for eligible students from federal, state and private sources as well as university scholarships. As notices of new scholarships and/or resources are received, the original award offer must be reviewed to prevent an overaward (an award beyond the student's eligibility for need-based aid.) With each change to their awards, students will receive notification (revised paper award or email) of changes made.

Need-based University Grants are reserved for our higher need students. To be considered for the academic year, a student's EFC must be 9000 or less. Other factors include: a timely application and a timely completion of requested documentation. Remember that the deadline for filing the FAFSA online is March 1st for the State of Michigan.

What about scholarships?

Scholarships for all entering undergraduates students are administered by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

While the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships does not award scholarships for the university, it does coordinate the scholarship process for the Current Scholarship Application. Applications are available during January and due by March 1 (or at a date announced when the application is released). To apply, students must have completed at least 12 credits towards their degree, be an U.S. citizen/eligible non-citizen and have a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. This scholarship application is available in our Current Undergraduate Scholarship section.

It is always good to check your own possible resources: employers, high schools, clubs and organizations. You can also do free online scholarship searches on the many sites listed in the scholarship search section of our website.

The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships website has a Private Scholarship section that posts scholarship information and links to the funding organization.

What about fee-based services?

While there are legitimate organizations that sell their information to students, many of these businesses take advantage of a student's fears about the cost of education. There are many free websites available to you to locate scholarships in addition to completing a FAFSA. You shouldn't pay for this information. If you have questions about an organization, you can check with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.



Who is eligible to receive financial aid?

Each financial aid program has special criteria, but the following requirements are fundamental to federal, state and university need-based programs. To be eligible for financial aid, you must:

  • Demonstrate financial need (except for some loan programs).
  • Have a high school diploma or its equivalent or have a certificate of completion for a home-study program recognized by the student's home state. You may file for financial aid prior to receiving your diploma, but must be awarded it as a condition of admission to the university.
  • Be enrolled or admitted to an eligible program of study. You may file for financial aid before you have been admitted to your program of study, but you will not be awarded before you have been admitted.
  • Be a U.S. Citizen, national or an eligible non-citizen.
  • Have a valid Social Security Number.
  • Be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the Office of Financial Aid (see Consumer Information for more detail).
  • Use federal student aid for only educational purposes.
  • Not owe a refund on a federal grant or be in default on any federal educational loan.
How do I know if I'm independent or dependent for financial aid?
  • Your age will usually determine if you are considered to be dependent or independent for purposes of filing for financial aid. For the 2021-2022 academic year, students who were born before January 1, 1998 will be considered to be independent on the basis of age. There are other "automatic" independent status categories in addition to age. 
  • at any time since you turned 13, were both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care, or a ward of the court
  • are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
  • have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022
  • have legal dependents (persons other than a spouse): they must live with you and receive more than 50% of their support from you between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022
  • are an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence at the time of application
  • are in a legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence at the time of application
  • will be graduate or professional students in 2021-2022
  • are married at the time of application
  • at any time after July 1, 2020 were determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless by a high school or school district homeless liaison
  • at any time after July 1, 2020 were determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless by the director of an emergency shelter program funded by the Housing and Urban Development
  • at any time after July 1, 2020 were determined to be an unaccompanied minor who was homeless or was self-supporting and at risk of being homeless by the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program
What if I don't meet any of these categories and still think that I should be considered independent?

Your first step would be to review the  Dependency Override Appeal Form to determine if you met the criteria for this appeals process.  If you feel confident in the process, please follow the appeal instructions and submit it and supporting documentation to the Office of Financial Aid.  The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will consider waiving parental information based on documented appeals.

If a student has been abused, neglected or abandoned by parents, an appeal can be made. Also students whose parents may be incapable of completing a FAFSA because of institutionalization or incarceration may be considered.

Students can also begin the process by completing the FAFSA online but stating that parental information cannot be considered because of special circumstances.  If the appeal is not approved, the student and parents can update the FAFSA online.

Students who are not claimed as a dependent on their parents' income tax return and/or do not live with the their parents cannot be considered independent without additional special circumstances.

Students may also complete the FAFSA without parental information and may be able to qualify for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans without having met the standard to be considered independent based on circumstances by the Office of Financial Aid.  Completion of the Parent Refusal Form  by the student and the parent is required.

What should I do if I've got special problems that aren't reflected on the FAFSA?

You should review the Special Circumstances section for the most common types of appeal. 

Can attendance/academic performance affect my financial aid?

Yes. If you officially withdraw or stop attending classes (unofficial withdrawal), you may be required to repay some of all of your aid for the term. Students are subject to a formula called Return to Title IV (Federal) Aid to determine how much federal and university need-based aid will be reduced. The State of Michigan has a separate formula to determine the amount of Michigan Competitive Scholarship the student can retain.

Dropping a class for certain federal aid can result in the reduction or loss of a grant or loan (Federal Pell Grant and Federal SEOG) unless confirmation of academic activity is provided by the professor of the class.  If confirmed in a timely manner, the aid can be reinstated.  

All financial aid recipients are required to meet the same or higher standards of academic performance (measured by cumulative grade point average, course completion and completion of degree within a maximum time frame) as other students at the university. Students who fail to meet the requirements of Satisfactory Academic Progress will be first placed on warning but can still receive aid. Students who do not meet the terms of their probation will be suspended from financial aid eligibility.  They must regain eligibility by performance or submit a Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal.

There are consequences in financial aid (as well has academically--or both) for dropping or not attending classes and the academic progress guidelines are reviewed in Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Are there financial aid programs for students who are not enrolled in traditional degree programs?

Some students non-degree programs, such as Prospective Degree and consortium students have eligibility at the University of Michigan-Dearborn filing the FAFSA and may be eligible for federal financial aid. Guest students do not qualify for federal aid, but may qualify for some state programs and alternative loans. You should visit the special enrollments section of our website for details.


How and when do I file for financial aid?

You may file using the secured website FAFSA on the Web at www.fafsa.gov and or use your U.S. Department of Education FSA ID as your electronic signature. If you are unable to use your FSA ID, you can print a signature page and mail it to the Federal Student Aid Processing Center.   If you are a dependent student, at least one of your parents must also have U.S. Department of Education FSA ID to use as his or her electronic signature. Don't forget to print a copy of your application and confirmation page.

The FAFSA application cycle for 2022-2023 started on October 31, 2021.  The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships strongly encourages prospective and current students to complete their FAFSA by our priority deadline of January 1, 2022. It is very important to complete any requirements for documents and accepted admission status by March 1, 2022 for priority consideration for the UM-Dearborn Grant.  

What if I missed the filing deadline?

The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships will process your application even if you file after the recommended filing date. Your application, however, must be received and completed while you are still enrolled on at least a half-time basis (6 credits for undergraduates and 4 credits for graduate students.) Your aid may be processed after the start of the academic year. You are also less likely to receive grant assistance from the university because funds may be expended. Undergraduate and graduate students who enroll in a degree program AND have at least half-time status student loans. Eligible undergraduates may also be considered for Federal Pell Grant.

Do I need to file every year?

Yes. Students (and their families) are required to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year to be considered for financial aid. Even if the circumstances have not changed, the new application will confirm your situation.

How do I get a Federal FSA ID and how is it used?

You apply for the FSA ID  at the Department of Education website  with additional instructions. If you are considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes, at least one of your parents should also obtain the FSA ID to use as an electronic signature. You do not use the FSA ID to access university records. The university assigns you an identification number and a login. 

Before you start this process, watch a helpful (and short) video called How to Create An FSA ID

What income information do I use?

The FAFSA uses income information for two years prior. In the 2021-2022 FAFSA application cycle, you will use the 2019 IRS and untaxed income information. In the upcoming 2022-2023 FAFSA application cycle, you will use the 2020 IRS and untaxed income information.  

Do I need to complete a new FAFSA if I've already filed at my former school?

If you filed a FAFSA for the academic year in which you plan to attend the University of Michigan-Dearborn, you do not need to refile a FAFSA. The information that you've already submitted can be released to the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Add UM-Dearborn to the list of colleges you want to receive your information online. The UM-Dearborn Federal School Code number is 002326.

How do I get help with the FAFSA?

If you need more assistance than is available at the FAFSA website (lots of support by email, text, and the explanation panels along the online application), call the  Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.  

There are community events to help students and their parents complete the FAFSA.  While College Goal Sunday has worked to this goal for years, more high schools are sponsoring FAFSA Blasts to help their students complete the FAFSA. There are many resources in your community.

Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships

University Center (UC)
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