How to Apply for Financial Aid

Are you ready to get the knowledge and hands-on experience it takes for a rewarding career but concerned about how to pay for college? Don't worry! Financial aid can seem complicated, but we're here to help.

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Why apply for federal financial aid

The Office of Federal Student Aid awards approximately $112 billion in financial aid each year. How much are you eligible to receive? Your financial aid package is determined by submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

How to apply for federal financial aid

The process of applying for financial aid is straightforward – you fill out and submit your FAFSA form. There are deadlines you need to meet and remember that filing online is the fastest and most reliable method.

Be sure to list Central Michigan University (school code 002243) on the form so our financial aid office receives your results.

Start your FAFSA

Did you graduate from a Michigan high school in 2023 or later?

If so, you may be eligible for the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, offering up to $5,500 per year for 5 years at CMU.

Check details and ensure your FAFSA's first-choice school code is Central Michigan University.

Timeline for submitting your FAFSA

Before the FAFSA opens in October

Create your FSA ID. To apply, you'll need to set up an account known as your FSA ID. We strongly recommend that you set this up before starting your FAFSA form. You can even do this before the FAFSA opens so you’re ready when it does.


October of the year before you plan to start

Fill out your FAFSA form. The FAFSA opens each year on October 1.*New freshmen will fill out the FAFSA that opens on October 1 of their senior year in high school.

Submit your FAFSA form as soon as you can. The information you use is based on your or your family’s finances from two years ago. So, if you are applying to start college in 2024, you use the 2024-25 FAFSA and your financial information from 2022. There’s no need to wait to file your next tax return.

*Note: Students starting classes in Fall 2024 were not able to access the FAFSA until January 2024 due to rollout of the new simplified FAFSA form. 

May 1 of the year you plan to start

Your FAFSA is due by May 1 to receive priority consideration for CMU funds. Be sure to file early to get yours.

You can submit your form any time after Oct. 1. For incoming freshmen, submitting your FAFSA application before the winter break of your senior year is a great goal.

Our financial aid office must receive your FAFSA information at least two weeks before the end of the first semester you are enrolled.


FAFSA for different types of students

The FAFSA application process varies slightly for students who are not filing for the first time while in high school.

    Financial aid is not a one-time process. You must reapply each year. If you've completed the FAFSA before, you can use the Renewal FAFSA option. This pre-fills your application with your previous year's information making it quicker and easier to do. Update any changed details, like income or family size, and include our school code (002243) to ensure we receive your application.

    If you're transferring from another institution, don't forget to update your FAFSA with Central Michigan University's school code (002243). This ensures that your financial aid transfers with you.

    If you're an online undergraduate student, you can still apply for federal financial aid. The process is the same as it is for on-campus students.

    Are you a veteran or in active service? Be sure to investigate your military benefits. These are not based on the FAFSA. You earned them with your service.

    Military benefits

    Although international students are not eligible for federal aid, we offer various scholarships to help you with the cost of tuition:

    If you are attending here as a guest or a non-degree seeking student, you are not eligible for federal financial aid, but we do offer an interest-free payment plan.

    Guest students may be eligible to receive financial aid from their home institution.

    Who is eligible for federal financial aid?

    To be eligible to apply for federal financial aid using the FAFSA, you must:

    • Be a United States citizen, a U.S. national, or an eligible non-citizen.
    • Have a valid Social Security number.
    • Earn a high school diploma, General Education Development (GED) certificate or complete a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.
    • Be enrolled or accepted as a student in an eligible degree or certificate program.
    • Be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for Federal Direct Loan programs.
    • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college.
    • Not owe refunds on any federal student grants or be in default on any federal student loans.

    This is a general guideline, and individual circumstances may vary. Complete information is on the Federal Student Aid site.


    What’s next?

    After you submit your FAFSA, Federal Student Aid calculates the aid you qualify for. They send this information to us if you listed CMU’s school code on your form. Our Financial Aid Team then creates your personal Financial Aid Offer, and we send this information on to you.  

    Using the information in your offer, you’ll be able to see how much your cost of attendance will be. If you have any questions about your offer, please contact our Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at 989-774-3674 or

    Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid