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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Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
0.99% – 11.98%1Undergraduate

Visit College Ave

1.13% – 11.23%*,2Undergraduate

Visit SallieMae

0.99% – 11.44%3Undergraduate

Visit Earnest

1.50% – 11.33%4Undergraduate

Visit Ascent

1.12% – 11.23%5Undergraduate

Visit SoFi

1.15% – 11.01%6Undergraduate



Visit FundingU

3.80% – 9.36%8Undergraduate

Visit CommonBond

* 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 either Firstrust 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.

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.

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. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student 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 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. 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 8/9/2021. 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 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

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

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Rates include 0.25% Auto Pay Discount
  2. Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
    Rates shown include 0.25% APR discount when client agrees to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment. Use of autopay is not required to receive an Earnest loan.

    Available Terms
    For Cosigned loans – 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 years. 
    Primary Only – 10, 12, 15 years

    In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).

4 Important Disclosures for Ascent.

Ascent Disclosures

Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit:

Rates are effective as of 10/01/2021 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit:

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.

5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

Sofi Disclosures

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.66% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.90% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.10% to 11.34% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.08% to 10.86% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.05% to 11.29% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 10.66% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.20% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (>

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.15% – 11.01% (1.15% – 10.24 APR)Fixed interest rates range from 4.18% – 11.70% (4.18% – 10.83% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 10.66% (1.89% – 10.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.64% – 11.23%% (4.64% – 10.95% APR).

Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 9.22% (1.89% – 8.50% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.38% – 10.44% (4.38% – 9.72% APR).

Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 8.02% (1.89% – 7.72% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.28% – 9.24% (4.28% – 8.94% APR).

Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.97% – 7.06% (1.97% – 7.06% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.94% – 8.58% (4.94% – 8.58% APR).

Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.44% – 9.58% (4.44% – 9.52% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.83% APR).

Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.53% – 7.03% (3.53% – 6.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.98% – 10.09% APR).

Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of June 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or 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 require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate 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.

Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer.  Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.

Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

7 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.

8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.  If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.

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
0.99% – 11.98%1 Undergraduate

Visit College Ave

1.13% – 11.23%2 Undergraduate

Visit SallieMae

0.99% – 11.44%3 Undergraduate

Visit Earnest

1.50% – 11.33%4 Undergraduate

Visit Ascent

1.12% – 11.23%5 Undergraduate

Visit SoFi

1.15% – 11.01%6 Undergraduate