Financial Aid Starts with FAFSA

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is often the 1st step to accessing financial aid for college or career school. Complete online at

  • It’s FREE!
  • Gateway to financial aid – all federal aid is determined through FAFSA, and state and institutional (colleges/universities) aid can also be awarded based on FAFSA
  • Only need to submit one FAFSA each year for all colleges
  • Money is disbursed on a first come, first serve basis – it’s important to file early! FAFSA application opens October 1st
  • No “deadline,” but families are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by March 1 to be eligible for State Aid
  • Must create an FSA ID- a username and password system that allows students/parents to electronically file and complete the FAFSA form. Parent and student must each create an FSA ID prior to filling out the FAFSA. Click here to learn more about the FSA ID process, or to create yours now.


Scholarships are gifts of money that do not need to be paid back.  These gifts come from governments, colleges, businesses, and private organizations.

  • Scholarships may be awarded for academic or athletic ability, interest in a certain subject, volunteer work, or based on membership in an ethnic or religious group.
  • Companies may also give scholarships to their employees or to children of employees.

Start your scholarship search off with one of our databases below!  


MI Tuition Incentive Program (TIP)

TIP is a Michigan program that provides tuition assistance to students who have (or have had) Medicaid coverage for 24 months within a 36-consecutive month period prior to high school.

  • Over 50 % of Oceana high school seniors are TIP eligible!
  • Phase 1 monies cover the cost of tuition at the standard in-district rate at participating Michigan community colleges. Visit mistudentaid/tip for more information.
  • Find out if your child is eligible by calling 1-888-447-2687.
  • Student MUST complete the application no later than August 31 of the academic year in which the student graduates from high school or its recognized equivalent.


  • Grants are called gift aid because they do not have to be paid back. Most are needs based, which means they are usually given based on your family’s financial circumstances.
  • Fill out the FAFSA to determine eligibility for grants from federal and state governments and from colleges.

College Work Study Programs

  • Fill out the FAFSA to determine eligibility.
  • Work study offers paying jobs based on a student’s financial need as part of federal, state or college–based financial aid packages.
  • Students usually work on campus or locally for at least the current minimum wage. Work study jobs usually are good at accommodating your school responsibilities. Students are paid based on the amount of aid awarded and the number of hours worked.
  • Many on-campus jobs that are not through a work study program are also available by checking with the employment office at your chosen campus.


  • Fill out the FAFSA to be eligible for federal low interest parent and student loans.
  • Some loans are offered directly to students; others are available to students’ parents/guardians.
  • Banks and private lenders often offer college loans, but generally at a higher rate.

Family/Personal Savings

  • One of the best ways to save for college is by working over the summer during high school. Funds saved can be used for transportation, food, spending money and other living expenses while in college.
  • 529 College Savings Plan -Another way is to begin thinking about saving for college when your child is very young. Find out more by visiting or
  • Check with your employer! Some companies offer tuition reimbursement programs so ask your HR representative!

Data shows that here in the state of Michigan, 1 in 3 students graduate from 4 year institutions WITHOUT ANY DEBT.  Additionally, for the 2/3rd of students who do have student loan debt upon graduation from a 4 year institution, the average amount is not six figures as popular media may lead you to believe. In Michigan, the average amount of debt for a college graduate is roughly $30,045, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.  Then when you look at 2 year associates degrees or certificate programs including skilled trades, the cost diminishes significantly for high quality training that will launch into careers with immediate openings, good entry level pay, and a positive job growth outlook for West Michigan.

Don’t let the bumps in the road stop you from pursuing what will likely be the best investment of your life… there are many options for financial assistance and there are local people who are able to help you navigate those paths. Contact the financial aid office at any local college or contact your school guidance counselor!

Current Awards & Scholarships

Check back soon for award & scholarship details.

What Is "College"?

College is all post-secondary education including certificate programs, trade schools, community colleges and 4 year colleges and universities. Learn More