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Work Study, Education Savings Plans and More

Work Study

Federal Work Study (FWS) is a win-win for you and your employer

Work-study is a federal program that reimburses employers for 70% of student earnings. Students qualify by filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and demonstrating a high level of financial need. If you qualify for work-study, your financial aid award notice will list FED College Work Study.

Work-study is awarded to new students based on demonstrated financial need, and to continuing students based on their use of work-study during the prior year as well as continued demonstrated financial need. Students who do not work and earn at least $1,000 of their award will not be offered the award in the following year.

What does work-study mean as part of my aid package?
It's just like getting any job, except that your employer is reimbursed for a part of your earnings.

The work-study award does not pay directly to your student account. You get paid through the employee payroll process as you work and earn throughout the year, which means you will not have any work-study funds available to you until after you have received a pay check. You may then use your earnings to pay for part of your MSU bill or for other school-related expenses.

How will I receive my award?
Once you have a job and begin working, you will receive a pay check every second week. Your earnings are not automatically applied to your bill as a credit. To use your earnings to pay for MSU expenses, visit your student portal.

Who pays for me to work?
Federal work-study pays 70% of your gross earnings until you have exhausted your full work-study award. Any earnings that exceed your work-study award are charged 100% to your hiring department.

If work-study is not in your aid package...
You can still work! Work-study is intended to make it easier for students to find a job by providing an incentive to employers, but it is not a requirement for students who wish to seek employment on- or off-campus.

Interested in a paid tutoring position?
If your financial aid package includes a work-study award, you are able to apply for a paid tutoring position with the MSU Center for Community Engaged Learning through the America Reads/Counts Program. For more information, please visit Work-Study Tutoring Opportunities for details.

Interested in working off-campus?
In order for your employer to be reimbursed with work-study funds, both you and your employer must fill out the Off-Campus Employment Notification Form (PDF) and return it to the Office of Financial Aid. Please note that only certain non-profit employers are eligible for work-study reimbursement.

For employers
Community Service Learning Job Description Form (PDF)
Work-Study Agreement

Education Savings Plans

Planning Ahead with Education Savings Plans

There are several types of educational savings plans to help you prepare for college expenses. How you report these assets on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can vary.

529 Plans
A 529 plan is a state-operated investment plan designed to help families save for future college costs. All 50 states offer 529 plans. Michigan's 529 plans are:

Michigan Education Trust (MET)
MET is a prepaid tuition plan which allows for the pre-purchase of tuition based on today's rates. Investment performance is dependent upon the rate at which tuition has increased by the time the beneficiary is in college.
Michigan Education Savings Program (MESP)
MESP is a savings plan in which any earnings grow free from federal tax. Withdrawals are tax-free at both the federal and state level when used for qualified higher education expenses.
Both plans offer a state income tax deduction for contributions made by Michigan taxpayers.

How to report 529 plans on the FAFSA
If the parent is the owner of the program, the value is reported on the FAFSA as a parent asset. Note that you should report the value of all programs or plans, not just the one for the student applying for aid. For plans established by someone other than the student's parent, the value of the account is not reported on the FAFSA.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
Coverdell accounts are trusts created exclusively to pay the qualified education expenses of the designated beneficiary of the trust.

How to report Coverdell on the FAFSA
If the parent is the owner of the program, the value is reported on the FAFSA as a parent asset. Note that you should report the value of all programs or plans, not just the one for the student applying for aid. For plans established by someone other than the student's parent, the value of the account is not reported on the FAFSA.

Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) / Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA)
UGMA and UTMA are custodial accounts that allow parents to transfer assets to their minor children.

How to report UGMA and UTMA on the FAFSA
Custodial accounts are considered assets of the student.

Education Tax Credits

Claiming Tuition on Your Taxes

You may be able to claim a tax credit against your federal income tax for qualified tuition and related expenses. For more detailed information, see IRS Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education.

American Opportunity Credit
The American Opportunity Credit is a tax credit for qualified education expenses paid for an eligible student, of up to $2,500 per eligible student. The student may be yourself, your spouse, or your dependent(s).  If you take this credit, you may not also claim the Lifetime Learning Credit (as described below).

Lifetime Learning Credit
The Lifetime Learning Credit is a tax credit for any person who takes college classes. It provides a tax credit of up to $2,000 on the first $10,000 of college tuition and fees. You can claim the Lifetime Learning Credit on your tax return if you, your spouse, or your dependent is enrolled at an eligible educational institution and you were responsible for paying college expenses. You need not be enrolled at least half-time. Even if you took only one class, you may take advantage of the Lifetime Learning Credit.

Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver

Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver

Michigan State University participates in the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver (MITW) program. This program pays the MSU resident tuition for an eligible student.

Admitted students must be certified as eligible for the program by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). Eligibility criteria are established pursuant to state statute and require Michigan residency for 12 consecutive months, ¼ Native American blood quantum and membership in a federally recognized tribe.

Complete information about the program, including eligibility requirements and the program application, are available at the MDCR website.

Once MDCR has made a determination of eligibility, it will notify you and MSU. If your eligibility is verified and you are classified as an in-state student for tuition purposes, you do not need to take any additional steps. The Office of Financial Aid will process the award and it will appear as a tuition credit against your student account.

Residency status
If you are determined to be eligible but you are not classified as an in-state student for tuition purposes, you may contact our office to discuss how to prove you have resided in the state for 12 continuous months immediately prior to the semester for which you are requesting MITW funds. Proof may include pay stubs, rental agreements, or other similar documents. If this proof verifies that you meet the 12 month residency rule, you need take no additional steps. The Office of Financial Aid will process the award and it will appear as a tuition credit against your student account. Note that the MITW funds will only pay for the resident portion of nonresident tuition and you will be charged for the rest.

Applying for other financial aid
Whether you are approved or denied the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver, if you find you have insufficient funds to cover your educational expenses, you should submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and talk with the Office of Financial Aid about alternative sources of assistance.

Coordination of financial aid awards
Please note that if you have one or more other awards that are designated to pay tuition, one or more awards, including MITW, will be reduced so that the combination of tuition-specific awards does not exceed your tuition charges.

Resident Assistants

Resident Assistantships Offer Room & Board Benefit

If you have a position as a Resident Assistant, Transition and Cultural Aide, or Assistant Hall Director, you are granted the benefit of free housing and meals as a part of your employment. Your financial aid won’t include aid to cover housing and meals, since you’re not charged for these costs. You will see this benefit entered into your financial aid package as a resource instead.

If you received an award package as a regular student (one paying for housing and food from your own resources), your aid offer will be covering costs you do not have to pay. The Office of Financial Aid will revise your aid offer and enter your free housing and meals benefit in your aid package once we have been notified of your appointment to the position.

See the table below for a comparison of a full-need undergraduate aid offer for a dependent, in-state, undergraduate student with and without an assistantship position.

Pell Grant $7,395 $7,395
$350 $350
Aid Grant
$8,400 $8,400
Work Study
$3,000 $3,000
Food & Housing Waiver $0 $10,676
$16,439 $5,763

MSU is required to follow federal rules in the awarding of aid and MUST reduce certain types of aid if you were originally assigned a regular budget and now have an assistantship position. Financial aid may only cover your actual costs. While it may seem that something is being taken away from you when we your adjust your aid package, it is actually being replaced by the benefit of free housing and meals.

If you are appointed midway through a semester, your resident assistant resource will be prorated to reflect the actual value of your appointment.

We hope this information helps you understand your MSU charges and financial aid awards/revisions. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Aid for Veterans

Support for those who served

General information for veterans

MSU policies in place for veterans

  • MSU will readmit a service member who must suspend attendance for a short period of time.
  • MSU has a refund policy in place for students who withdraw prior to completing all courses.
  • MSU recognizes and adheres to the Principles of Excellence established by the federal government regarding student veterans.

MSU Disabled Veteran's Assistance Program

New and returning undergraduate veterans with a military-related disability who are Michigan residents and working on their first baccalaureate degree may qualify for an aid package that covers full costs without loans.  The student must document his or her status as a disabled veteran with MSU.  The student will be awarded a combination of federal, state, and MSU gift funds, combined with veteran's educational benefits and Michigan Rehabilitation Services benefits (if eligible), along with a work component.  If the student cannot work due to the disability, the work component will be omitted in favor of additional grant funding.

Expenses covered - tuition and fees, food and housing, books, health insurance, and personal and miscellaneous costs of attendance.  The cost of supporting a spouse or dependents is not covered with these funds, although federal and/or private student loans may be available on a case-by-case basis.

Students must apply for federal aid by submitting the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Students are also expected to apply for Veteran's Educational Benefits if eligible. For more information, see the MSU Veterans' Certification Office website.

For more information on this program, see the document Quick Facts about Disabled Veteran's Assistance.