Skip navigation links

Graduate Gift Aid

For graduate students, gift aid looks a little different. While federal awards such as the Pell Grant and Subsidized Direct Loan are no longer available, grad students have access to fellowships and graduate assistantships.



There are scholarship opportunities all over campus, for a wide range of students. The MSU Scholarships Database helps match students with the scholarships for which they qualify, with just one application. Your first stop should be the MSU Scholarships database, a one-stop resource for many awards. 


Fellowships are aid programs that do not have to be repaid. They are based on merit criteria, such as grades or program of study, not financial need.  Michigan State University funds many fellowships including awards for conference attendance and internships as well as normal cost of attendance. The Office of Financial Aid does not award fellowships, so contact your department and/or college for information. Fellowships can reduce the amount of Grad PLUS or Direct Loan offered.

A fellowship that is given to a student to assist with academic or living costs is considered financial aid.  If a student has already received federal or MSU financial aid based upon the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the fellowship must fit into the aid package, which may result in other aid being reduced or removed. Most fellowships are granted to assist with the same costs that are covered by financial aid, such as tuition and fees, books and materials, and living expenses. 

A fellowship granted for other expenses such as conference attendance may be accommodated by a budget increase to cover the additional costs.  The student must request a budget increase from the Office of Financial Aid and supply documentation from the department listing the expenses to be incurred that match the amount of the fellowship. 


Graduate Assistantships

Assistantships are employment awards granted by individual departments or by administrative offices such as Residence Life. The work can be either as a teaching assistant (TA), research assistant (RA), or in a "teaching exclusion" (TE) position. More than 3000 graduate students hold assistantships at MSU. You can find more information at

To qualify, you must be in a graduate degree program and make satisfactory academic progress. A 3.0 grade point average is the minimum requirement, though it is higher in some departments or colleges.

Benefits include a stipend (bi-weekly paycheck), tuition waiver of 9 credits per semester (Fall and Spring) and 5 for Summer, and health insurance.

If you received an award package as a regular grad student prior to receiving an assistantship, your package may be reduced. MSU is required to follow federal rules in the awarding of aid and MUST reduce certain types of aid - generally loans - if you originally had a regular graduate budget and now have a graduate assistantship.

For example, an assistantship includes a waiver of tuition, but the financial aid budget includes tuition. Therefore we would add a placeholder to your financial aid package which represents the waived tuition, and we would reduce your loans by the same amount. You may review the Institutional Awards Policy for further information.

We may NOT substitute a tuition-specific award, such as Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver, for the tuition waiver you receive as a graduate student. The latter is an employment benefit based upon labor rules and regulations which financial aid cannot override. You may receive aid for the cost of any credits you take over & above the waiver.

If you have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, then you should be aware that receipt of a fellowship, scholarship or assistantship may reduce your eligibility for federal student loans. Please contact the Office of Financial Aid at if you have questions.