Skip to main content

College Financing Plan

Central Michigan University provides students with a college financing plan (sometimes referred to as the shopping sheet) as another way for students to review their awarded aid. The college financing plan is not meant to replace the award offer that CMU or any other school provides. Instead, it is a tool whereby prospective and current students are provided a clear, direct comparison between schools as they make a college choice.

The plan can help all students review aid and compare financial offers from multiple schools. It is also required as part of the Principles of Excellence, a presidential directive for the U.S. Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education to establish a set of principles to enhance consumer protection for service members, veterans, and other military personnel and their families regarding the use of veteran and military education benefits.

You can find your College Financing Plan by signing into the CMU home page, and under My Account, searching for College Financing Plan.


One important step in determining your aid eligibility is to file your FAFSA. If you have not yet filed your FAFSA yet, you will want to visit to get started. For now, you may utilize the CMU Net Price Calculator tool to estimate your aid package and costs at CMU.

Click here to view an example of a College Financing Plan.

Understanding your College Financing Plan

Cost of Attendance (COA): Cost of attendance (COA) is an average estimate of costs a student would have if enrolled at CMU for the fall and spring semesters. It includes the costs billed by the university (direct) and estimated costs that are not billed by CMU (indirect).

  • What is a direct cost? For example, your tuition, student service fee, and food/housing (if on-campus) will be directly billed by the university onto your student account.
  • What is an indirect cost? On the other hand, CMU will not bill you for books and supplies, transportation, or miscellaneous personal expenses; instead, these expenses are amounts that are created to allow for further financial aid eligibility to help offset non-CMU expenses you may experience while enrolled.

More information on the Cost of Attendance at CMU.

Expected Family Contribution: A number used by your school to calculate the amount of federal student aid you are eligible to receive. It is based on the financial information provided in your Free Application for Federal student Aid (FAFSA). This is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive.

Federal Work-Study: A federal student aid program that provides part-time employment while the student is enrolled in school to help pay his or her education expenses. The student must seek out and apply for work-study jobs at his or her school. The student will be paid directly for the hours he or she works and the amount he or she earns cannot exceed the total amount awarded by the school for the award year.

More information on Work-Study at CMU.

Grants and Scholarships: Student aid funds that do not have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based. Occasionally you might have to pay back part or all of a grant if, for example, you withdraw from school before finishing a semester.


Loans: Borrowed money that must be repaid with interest. Loans from the federal government typically have a lower interest rate than loans from private lenders. Federal loans, listed from most advantageous to least advantageous, are called Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Parent PLUS Loans. You can find more information about federal loans at

More information on loans at CMU.

Direct Subsidized Loan: Loans that The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on while you’re in school at least half-time, for the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period*), and during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments).

Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Loans that the borrower is responsible for paying the interest on during all periods. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Parent Plus Loan: A loan available to the parents of dependent undergraduate students for which the borrower is fully responsible for paying the interest regardless of the loan status.

Private Loan: A nonfederal loan made by a lender such as a bank, credit union, state agency, or school.

Net Cost: An estimate of the actual cost that a student and his or her family need to pay in a given year to cover education expenses for the student to attend a particular school. Net price is determined by taking the institution’s cost of attendance and subtracting any grants and scholarships for which the student may be eligible.

For more information visit

Veterans information

Click here for more information on the types of aid that may be available for veterans at CMU.

If you have further questions, please visit or reach out to THE VETERANS RESOURCE CENTER AT CMU

Frequently asked questions

Why is the net cost on the College Financing Plan different from the estimated direct net costs on my personalized financial aid offer?

The net cost on the College Financing Plan includes both direct and indirect expenses. The estimated direct net cost on your financial aid offer includes only direct expenses.

What are my next steps?

Visit the financial aid planning calendar and checklist to determine your next steps as you navigate through the financial aid process.

Who can I contact with questions about my College Financing Plan?

With questions about your College Financing Plan, please contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. 

You can contact us by phone at 989-774-3674 or by email.