Skip navigation links


Frequently Asked Questions

This page addresses financial aid questions specific to graduate students. For more general financial aid questions (e.g., aid eligibility, disbursement, FAFSA information), go here.

In most circumstances, Executive MBA and Supply Chain Management students are eligible for financial assistance in the form of loans. Common loan programs are the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Federal Grad PLUS Loan.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loan
This loan is not based on financial need, and interest begins accumulating at disbursement, but no payment is required until six months after the student ceases enrolling on a half-time basis. The two semester loan maximum is $20,500.
Grad PLUS Loan
This loan is not based on financial need, and interest begins accumulating at disbursement, but no payment is required until 30 to 60 days after the student ceases enrolling on a half-time basis. The annual loan maximum is the student's estimated cost of attendance minus all other aid.

The Loan Process
Step 1
Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the academic period for which you are seeking funding.

  • Executive MBA Students: If you are seeking funding for the entire program, you may need to complete the FAFSA for two aid years covering 5 semesters. Your first term will be during the fall semester.
  • Supply Chain Management: If you are seeking funding for the entire program, you may need to complete the FAFSA for three aid years.

Step 2
When your loan eligibility is determined, an award notice will be sent to your MSU student portal. Follow the instructions included in order to accept, reduce, or decline loans offered.

The Office of Financial Aid assists students in the colleges of Human Medicine (CHM), Osteopathic Medicine (COM), and Veterinary Medicine (CVM) by distributing financial aid information, coordinating financial aid workshops, and by providing individualized financial aid counseling.

Professional students have different XXX, including budgets and loan limits. Information specific to medical students can be found here. Information specific to MSU College of Law students can be found here.

Admission as a graduate student at Michigan State University requires your application to be reviewed at several levels within the university including the academic department and Office of Admissions. Only after the process is fully completed will you receive a graduate level budget and appropriate aid.

Current Undergraduate Students Admitted Into Graduate Program
If you are currently an MSU undergraduate, your graduate status will not be active until your undergraduate degree is conferred by the Registrar. For example this will happen in May for Spring Semester graduates, and in August for Summer Semester graduates. You may be awarded undergraduate aid since our financial aid system recognizes the student’s academic level as of the day the aid is processed.

Students Returning to MSU for a Graduate Program
If you have attended MSU in the past as an undergraduate, but graduated elsewhere, you will be processed as an undergraduate until you are officially admitted by your academic department, MSU Office of Admissions, and your information is updated in our Student Information System by the Office of Admissions.

New MSU Graduate Students
If you are new to MSU as a prospective graduate student, your aid will be processed at the graduate level.

For information on gift aid (financial aid that does not need to be repaid), go here. For other types of non-loan aid such as assistantships, go here. For more information on loans, go here. Graduate students who are US Citizens or Permanent Residents may apply for federal loans by filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). International students may apply for private loans. Additional information can also be found in the Department of Education brochure “Financial Aid for Graduate or Professional Students”.

Detailed budget and billing information can be found here.

Here is a sample graduate budget and package for the 2023-2024 aid year. It can be used as a blueprint for planning available funds for your graduate studies.

  Michigan Student Out-of-State Student
Tuition* $15,152 $29,772
Fees & Taxes* $383 $383
Food & Housing $14,652 $14,652
Books & Supplies $1,876 $1,876
Personal & Misc $3,592 $4,518
Total Budget $35,655 $51,201
*Direct costs paid to MSU

Indirect costs, such as housing and personal expenses, are based on student choice and may vary from student to student although the housing amount used in the budget examples above is based on MSU published rates.

Some MSU programs allow students to take graduate courses before the undergraduate degree has been conferred. A student may fall into one of three different categories, and the student's financial aid eligibility will be affected depending upon the category they are in.

  1. The student is an undergraduate who is taking graduate courses as part of the undergraduate degree program. The courses are being used to complete the undergraduate degree. This student is treated for financial aid purposes as a normal undergraduate student and no special financial aid processing is required.
  2.  The student is admitted to a graduate degree program near the end of their undergraduate program. MSU allows up to 12 credits of graduate coursework to be applied towards a graduate degree, even though the courses are taken while the student is still an undergraduate. This student must be monitored and eligibility for certain financial aid programs may be restricted.
  3. The student may be concurrently admitted to both graduate and undergraduate degree programs, taking both undergraduate and graduate courses, with the two degrees being conferred only when the requirements for both are completed. This student must be monitored and eligibility for certain financial aid programs may be restricted.

Monitoring and eligibility adjustments
Students in programs 2 and 3 above will be eligible for undergraduate aid only until they have earned their 120th credit. (Most undergraduate degree programs require 120 credits for the degree. If you are pursuing an undergraduate degree requiring a higher number of credits, you should contact the Office of Financial Aid to be reviewed as an exception).

The Office of Financial Aid will monitor aid in the “transition semester” (the semester in which the student earns the 120th credit) and manually pro-rate financial aid using only the credits that bring you to 120 total credits. If the 120th credit will be completed within a term, you may receive undergraduate aid for the credits needed to reach 120, with excess credits within the semester not being counted for financial aid purposes.

It's possible that you will be less than half time when counting undergraduate credits in the term and thus be ineligible for federal aid that term. It's also possible that you may receive no undergraduate aid for a semester even though still classified as undergraduate if you completed 120 credits in the prior semester but have not had your status changed to graduate.

You will be notified of aid changes as soon as possible. You should keep in mind that your academic status may change mid-semester. If the academic change is made retroactive to the beginning of the term, it may then trigger a bill for aid you received earlier in the semester.

In-State Graduate Student

Type of Aid Amount Offered
Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan $20,500
Graduate PLUS Loan Recommendation $15,084
Total $35,584

Out-of-State Graduate Student

Type of Aid Amount Offered
Federal Unsubsidized Direct Loan $20,500
Graduate PLUS Loan Recommendation $27,416
Total $47,916

Most federal programs require enrollment at half time or more as shown in the Enrollment Chart. Some graduate students have special requirements, however, which are discussed below.

Aid such as Pell Grant, MSU Assistance Grant and Spartan Advantage are not available to graduate students. If you are offered these initially your financial aid package will change significantly once your graduate admissions information is updated from undergraduate to graduate in the university student information system which may be several weeks after you are admitted into a graduate program.

Students who are not fully admissible to a graduate program may be offered provisional admission to the program. The academic department sets certain conditions that the student must meet, such as completing three courses with a GPA of 3.0 or above, before the student will be admitted to the degree program.

Students who are provisionally admitted to a degree program are not eligible for federal, state, or MSU financial aid, although they may be eligible for private student loans. This policy is based upon federal regulations requiring a student to be fully admitted to a degree program as a condition of receiving financial aid.

If you are required to do preparatory coursework before being admitted to a graduate degree program, you may be eligible for federal loans. You must file a FAFSA and submit documentation from your academic advisor to the Office of Financial Aid to be considered for this exception. You must be enrolled at least half time and your eligibility is limited to a single, consecutive 12-month period.

Federal regulations limit the number of times a student may repeat a course and receive financial aid for that course.

  • A student may receive aid when repeating a course that was previously failed (received a 0.0 or No Pass) multiple times.
  • Once a student passes a class, they can only receive aid for retaking that course one additional time, regardless of the grade earned for that additional attempt. Any subsequent attempts will not be eligible for aid.
  • If a student retakes a course that is not aid eligible, a recalculation of aid is done to exclude the credits for the repeated course.
  • This rule applies whether or not the student received aid for earlier enrollments in the course.
  • Not all aid will require adjustment. Students can see the effect on their aid offers by comparing their enrollment level with and without the course(s) using the Enrollment Chart for Fall/Spring Semesters or for the Summer Session.
  • A course that is dropped is not considered an attempt for purposes of this policy.
  • Students must also adhere to MSU's repeat policy.

Per federal law, Michigan State University must monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for all federal financial aid recipients. Students can fail to meet Satisfactory Academic Progress due to a low GPA, taking too long to complete a degree, or failing to complete 67% of their courses.

Students who are federal financial aid recipients are evaluated for SAP at the end of each semester of enrollment. For an in-depth look at SAP requirements, visit the main Satisfactory Academic Progress page.

Financial Aid for Summer Semester

If you have unused financial aid for the current aid year (after aid has been applied to fall and spring terms), it is applied to any tuition and fees for summer semester. For many students, all available aid has been expended prior to summer term. If you require additional aid for summer, Federal Direct Parent PLUS or Grad PLUS summer loans are available. This PDF has information on applying for summer PLUS loans.

Beyond using remaining aid and PLUS loans, you can search for summer aid scholarships from your department or other agencies.

Financial aid has special rules and consequences when offered for summer sessions. Please read all of the information below and contact us if you have any questions.

  • All Federal Direct Subsidized / Unsubsidized loans require you to be enrolled at least half-time.
  • Aid begins the process of applying to your account 10 days prior to the starting date of your earliest starting summer class. This means, for instance, that if you are attending only during the second subterm, your aid will not begin to apply until 10 days prior to the start of that subterm.
  • The amount of aid OFFERED to you is based on half-time enrollment. If your enrollment is less than half-time, you will not receive any funding from most of the awards. You do not receive a greater amount if you are enrolled three-quarter or full time.

Summer Enrollment Status

Use this chart to determine your enrollment status for the summer session based on your credit load.

 Academic Level Full-Time 3/4-Time Half-time

Less Than

 Undergrad (including Ag Tech) 12 credits 9-11 credits 6-8 credits 1-5 credits
Masters 9 credits 7-8 credits 5-6 credits 1-4 credits
Doctoral 6 credits 4-5 credits 3 credits 1-2 credits
Teacher Certification 9 credits 7-8 credits 5-6 credits 1-4 credits
Medical 12 credits 9-11 credits 6-8 credits 1-5 credits

Summer Disbursement Rules

Use this chart to determine how much of an award's "offered" amount you may receive based on your summer enrollment level (assuming the award is part of your summer aid package).

Aid Program Full-Time 3/4-Time Half-time

Less Than

MSU Student Aid Grant (USAG) 100% 100% 100% 0%
Federal Direct Subsidized / Unsubsidized Loan 100% 100% 100% 0%
Federal Work-Study Program 100% 100% 100% 0%

The Office of Financial Aid will determine Pell Grant eligibility for summer based on federal regulations. Not all students will qualify for the summer grant, even if it was awarded during prior fall and spring semesters.

If a summer Pell Grant is awarded, the actual disbursement will be based on the total number of credits a student is enrolled for the summer term, and may differ from the dollar amount offered.

Please contact the Office of Financial Aid if there are questions about summer Pell Grant eligibility, or the amount disbursed.

Note: If you are an education abroad student, most of your aid will disburse at the actual amount indicated in your package but you must still be enrolled at least half-time.

However, you must notify the Office of Financial Aid if:

  • the number of credits for your study abroad program changes, or
  • you add or drop any courses, either study abroad or on-campus credits

What happens to my summer aid if I drop courses?

Students should finalize their schedules before their first day of class. Dropping courses after starting a course may result in a financial aid bill.

Notification and Disbursement of Awards

You will receive notification in your student portal when your aid package has been established or changed. Visit your financial aid portal regularly to make sure you do not have any outstanding alerts.

To view and take action on your financial aid awards:

  1. Activate your MSU NetID and password. Instructions are provided by IT Services.
  2. Login to Click the 'Financial Aid' tile, the ‘Financial Aid Portal’, and then ‘Open Financial Aid Portal.'
  3. Consent to conduct financial aid business electronically. Since our electronic processes are faster and more accurate than other means of communication, we encourage you to consent.
  4. Share your information (optional). If you want your parent(s) or spouse to have access to certain features of, see our page on online guest authorization.
  5. View your awards. From the Financial Aid Portal main menu, select "Messages", then choose the most recent Award Letter. Your awards will be listed on the "Financial" tab.

Financial aid awards may be revised for any of the following reasons:

  • Your residency has changed.
  • Your enrollment status has changed.
  • You have declined one or more awards.
  • We have been notified that you received other aid or had other resources (Veteran's Benefits, MET, etc.) of which we were unaware when the previous awards were made.
  • Your data on the FAFSA was incorrect and the error has been corrected.
  • Your summer financial aid has been processed.

If you have questions about why an award was changed, please contact our office.

Loans are accepted in the Financial Aid Portal. The Financial Aid Portal is accessed by logging into Student Information System and clicking the Financial Aid tile.

View this PDF for instructions on accepting loans in your portal, or follow the instructions below:

  1. Navigate to the Financials page and view financial award offer
  2. To take action on the displayed financial aid select one of the following:
  • Adjust my funding
  • Update Acceptance
  1. On Step 1 – Awards Summary, select the button stating “Start Loan Acceptance”
  2. On Step 2 – Accept your Awards, select one of the available options
  • Accepting the full amount of loans available
  • Accepting a reduced amount of the loans available ***Note: If you select this option you will be prompted to enter the total loan value for the year
  • Declining the full amount of the loans available
  1. On Step 3 – Confirm your awards selection the page will differ based on what is selected in step 2. At the end of each option, the student should select continue.
  • If you accepted the full amount, you can continue with the award allocation as shown or edit the amounts for each term to the full amount of the award selected in Step 2.
  • If you accepted a reduced amount, you’ll determine the split of the award for each term to equal the amount selected in Step 2.

***Note: If the student has both subsidized and unsubsidized loans, they will be required to use the maximum amount of their subsidized loan available prior to funds being allocated to their unsubsidized loan.

  • If you declined the loan the possible options are:
    • If there is enough aid to cover cost of attendance you can continue to the next step.
    • If there is not enough aid to cover cost of attendance you will be prompted to return to previous steps to accept aid.
  1. On Step 4 - E-Sign, students must accept the econsent acknowledgement and sign the page using their student ID and last name
  2. On Step 5 – Done, students will receive confirmation of their loan actions

Assuming you have completed each item of your "to-do" list in the Financial Aid Portal of the Student Information System (e.g., signed all of your master promissory notes, accepted your loans, etc.), your financial aid will be "disbursed" to you as follows:

  • Financial aid begins being applied to your MSU student account 10 days before your first day of class.
  • Your tuition, fees and other charges listed on your MSU bill are paid.
  • If excess financial aid remains after your bill is paid, you will receive a refund from the Controller's Office the week prior to your first day of class.
  • If excess financial aid is available after the start of the semester, refunds and the disbursement of financial aid are applied to your account on a daily basis for the first two weeks of the semester. After that time, refunds and financial aid disbursement occurs once per week. You may contact us and request an immediate disbursement when there is need to pay an award earlier than a scheduled disbursement as long as it is no earlier than 10 days prior to the start of classes.
No federal aid can be paid earlier than 10 days before your first day of class, so those programs are paid as anticipated financial aid as long as the student or parent, in the case of a Parent PLUS loan, has taken all necessary actions. Scholarships checks that have not been sent to the University generally will neither be paid nor produce anticipated financial aid credits to the student’s account until the funds have arrived at MSU.
All of your financial aid must fit within your budget. If we become aware of additional aid that you have received, we may be required to reduce or cancel a portion of your original aid package. If those original awards have already been paid to you, we may be required to bill you back for a portion of that paid amount.
You have the right to cancel all or a portion of your Direct or PLUS loans, even after the loan funds have been disbursed to you. If you wish to cancel an already disbursed loan, you must notify OFA within 14 calendar days of the billing statement notifying you that the funds have been applied to your account.
You may be billed for a portion or all of your financial aid if you drop credit hours or are not at the minimum credit level required for aid eligibility. If you'll be attending as a part-time student or if you're considering dropping a class, it is important to discuss it with an OFA staff member first.
You may be billed for a portion or all of your financial aid if you withdraw from the university. The bill calculated as a result of withdrawal will depend on the effective date of withdrawal, the percentage and amount of institutional refund, and/or the last date of class attendance. See Financial Aid (Title IV) Refund Policy for more information about the effects of withdrawing from MSU.