How to Pay for Michigan State University: Financial Aid and Student Loan Options

 June 9, 2020
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Are you a student at Michigan State University, or even just considering attending this public school in East Lansing? If so, you’ll need a plan to pay for it. Tuition at Michigan State costs, on average, $14,254 annually.

Fortunately, students have many different options to pay for Michigan State University tuition, ranging from grants and scholarships, which don’t have to be repaid, to work-study programs or student loans.

Find out everything you need to know about how to pay for Michigan State University, so you can make smart choices about paying for your education.

Cost of attending Michigan State University
Annual tuition and fees (in-state) $14,524
Annual room and board $10,522
Total cost $25,046
Annual net cost (after aid) $7,142
Average debt after graduation $7,250 – $30,650
All info current as of May 25, 2020
Sources: Michigan State University, College Scorecard

7 keys to paying for Michigan State University

1. The FAFSA: Unlocking financial aid
2. Grants for Michigan State University students
3. Scholarships for Michigan State University students
4. Federal work-study
5. Federal student loans
6. Michigan State University student loans
7. Private student loans

The FAFSA: Unlocking financial aid

For students attending Michigan State, completing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is essential to become eligible for most funding sources.

The FAFSA can be completed online — simply provide financial information about you and your family if you’re a dependent undergraduate.

You must submit the FAFSA every year to be eligible for federal student loans, grants and work-study programs. Many private and state-based funding options also rely on information from your FAFSA to determine eligibility.

Grants for Michigan State University students

One of the best ways to pay for Michigan State University is through grants — it’s money you don’t have to repay.

The Department of Education operates many grant programs. Grants may also be available for Michigan State students who meet certain criteria, such as studying particular subjects. Plus, the state of Michigan also makes grants available. Our guide to state grants can be a great place to start your research.

Students can find grant opportunities at Michigan State University through the MSU Libraries. You can search for grants based on your academic level, demographic group or the subject you plan to study. Michigan State students may also be eligible for money via the:

Grants offered by the federal government are also available to Michigan State students, including Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

Many grants, including Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, are awarded based on financial need. To become eligible for federal grants, as well as to gain eligibility for many state grants, you’ll need to complete the FAFSA.

Scholarships for Michigan State University students

Scholarships are another source of money for Michigan State students. Scholarships are available through the university itself, as well as government programs, private companies, nonprofits and individual donors.

Some scholarships are merit-based, which means you can qualify for them based on your academic performance, athletic achievements or another special talent. Merit-based scholarships are typically open to eligible students regardless of financial need. Other scholarships, however, are need-based, and students and their families will need to have limited financial resources to qualify.

The Education Department provides information on scholarships for which students from all states may be eligible, including scholarships for military families. There are also scholarships open only to Michigan residents or students attending Michigan State. For example, students in Michigan could be eligible for the following:

Michigan State also offers its own scholarships:

There are many scholarships available for MSU students who are part of specific academic programs or meet other criteria related to their academic performance, talents or financial need. The Office of Admissions has resources to help students find scholarships, including a searchable database of hundreds of different sources of free funding.

You can also check out our list of 10 scholarship search tools to help you find more money so you can pay for MSU.

Federal work-study

A work-study program is another option to help you pay for MSU without taking out loans. Though you won’t have to repay this money later, you’ll have to work to earn money to pay for school.

Work-study is a federal program that subsidizes employer payments to eligible students who work in qualifying jobs. Students become eligible by completing the FAFSA, and only students with financial need can qualify. When students receive a financial aid award from Michigan State, it will list “FED College Work Study” if they’re eligible for the program.

Many different jobs are open to students who qualify for work-study, and MSU’s Office of Financial Aid provides information about the school’s work-study program.

Students can also use career site Handshake through MSU to find information about opportunities open to work-study recipients or visit the school’s Career Services Network at 556 E. Circle Drive, Room 113, in the MSU Student Services Building.

Federal student loans

After exhausting options to pay for school without borrowing, you’ll probably need to take on at least some student debt.

When you start your search for student loans, it’s a good idea to exhaust federal student loans first before considering borrowing from private lenders. There are different loan programs administered through the Department of Education that provide money to students with and without financial need. There are also federal loans available for parents of undergrads.

Note that federal student loans provide many advantages that other types of educational debt don’t offer. For example, students with federal loans can take advantage of income-based repayment plans, which cap payments at a percentage of your income and could eventually result in debt being forgiven after borrowers have made enough payments.

Federal student loan borrowers who work in qualifying public-service fields could also become eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which forgives the remaining balance of their student loans if they make 120 on-time payments.

Federal loans also have standardized interest rates set by the government, as well as options to pause payments if borrowers return to school or experience financial hardship. In some cases, the government will even subsidize interest payments for a certain period.

There are different federal student loan options open to different borrowers, as the table below shows.

Loan type Eligible borrowers Interest rate Loan fees Is interest subsidized?
Direct Subsidized Loans Undergrads with demonstrated financial need, regardless of credit history 4.53% 11.059% Yes
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergrad and grad students, regardless of need or credit history 4.53% for undergrads; 6.08% for grad students 1.059% No
PLUS Loans Graduate students and parents of undergrad students who don’t have adverse credit 7.08% 4.236% No
All info current for the 2020-2021 school year

Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans don’t require you to have good credit to qualify, which make these options ideal for student borrowers who may not have had time to establish a positive credit history.

Michigan State University student loans

Michigan State’s financial aid website details the types of loans attendees take out. The school doesn’t provide its own long-term educational loans to students, but it does provide short-term loans of up to $500 for undergraduates or $1000 for grad students.

These loans, which have a 7.00% interest rate, are intended only for enrolled students who can repay what they borrow within 60 days. Students can apply online through StuInfo. Approval is instant for qualifying students, and these students can access loan funds the same business day the loan is approved.

Private student loans

Finally, students should consider private student loans to help pay for Michigan State University. While students should almost always exhaust federal student aid first, some borrowers may not be approved for enough federal funding to cover the full cost of tuition and expenses. Private student loans can make up the difference.

If you borrow from a private lender, shop around and compare your options carefully. Different lenders will offer you different interest rates, repayment terms and borrower protections, so it’s important to find a lender that offers you a good deal.

Private student loans won’t subsidize interest payments, and there are no options for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or income-based payment plans. But some private lenders allow borrowers to temporarily pause payments if they lose their job or experience other hardships. Certain lenders may even provide job-search assistance to out-of-work borrowers.

Use our list of popular private lenders as a starting point to help you find the right private loan for your situation. Credit and income both matter when applying for private loans, so younger borrowers or those without good credit may need a cosigner to qualify.

The bottom line: Paying for Michigan State University

Now you know how to pay for Michigan State and can choose the educational funding that’s best for you. Remember, always exhaust free options such as grants and scholarships first, then consider work-study and federal student loans before shopping for a loan among private lenders.

By being smart about how you pay for school, you can keep debt low and have an easier time paying back student loans after graduation.

Christina Majaski contributed to this report.

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LenderVariable APREligibility 
2.49% – 13.85%1Undergraduate

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2.55% – 11.44%2Undergraduate

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3.25% – 13.59%3Undergraduate

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0.00% – 23.00%4Undergraduate

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3.25% – 9.69%6Undergraduate



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* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.

1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

  1. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.
  2. Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
  3. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 9/15/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.47% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 2.80% APR to 11.69% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

3 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

4 Important Disclosures for Edly.

Edly Disclosures

1. Loan Example:

  • Loans from $5,000 – $20,000
  • Example: $10,000 IBR Loan with a 7% gross income payment percentage for a Senior student making $65,000 annually throughout the life of the loan.
    • Payments deferred for the first 12 months during final year of education.
    • After which, $270 Monthly payment for 12 months.
    • Then $379 Monthly payment for 44 months.
    • Followed by one final payment of $137 for a total of $20,610 paid over the life of the loan.

About this example

The initial payment schedule is set upon receiving final terms and upon confirmation by your school of the loan amount. You may repay this loan at any time by paying an effective APR of 23%. The maximum amount you will pay is $22,500 (not including Late Fees and Returned Check Fees, if any). The maximum number of regularly scheduled payments you will make is 60. You will not pay more than 23% APR. No payment is required if your gross earned income is below $30,000 annually or if you lose your job and cannot find employment.

2. Edly Student IBR Loans are unsecured personal student loans issued by FinWise Bank, a Utah chartered commercial bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to eligibility criteria and review of creditworthiness and history. Terms and conditions apply.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  • Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of September 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 2.23%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
  • Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
  • Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.


    Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.25%-10.35% (3.25% – 9.69% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.24% – 10.59% (4.24% – 9.93% APR). 

    Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.75%-9.90% (3.75% – 9.68% APR). Fixed interest rates range from  5.22% – 10.14% (5.22% – 9.91% APR). 

    Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.75%-9.35% (3.75% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 5.20% – 9.59% (5.20% – 9.39% APR).

    Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.75%-9.02% (3.75% -8.98% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 5.18% – 9.26% (5.18% – 9.22% APR). 

    Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.25%-9.21% (3.25% – 9.21% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 3.96%-9.50% (3.96%-9.50% APR).

    Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 6.58%-11.72% (6.58% – 11.62% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.82% APR). 

    Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 5.67%-9.17% (5.67% – 8.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.97% – 10.08% APR).

6 Important Disclosures for Funding U.

Funding U Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.

Need a student loan?

Check out our top picks below or learn more about other ways to pay for college.
Variable APRDegrees That QualifyMore Info
2.49% – 13.85%1 Undergraduate

Visit College Ave

2.55% – 11.44%2 Undergraduate

Visit Earnest

3.25% – 13.59%3 Undergraduate

Visit SallieMae

0.00% – 23.00%4 Undergraduate

Visit Edly

3.25% – 9.69%5 Undergraduate


N/A 6 Undergraduate

Visit FundingU