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Michigan Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018
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There are nearly 100 online colleges and universities in Michigan offering post-secondary education at multiple levels. For example, Michigan Colleges Online is a group of 28 community colleges specializing in two-year degrees, certificates, and career diplomas. MCO’s mission is “to connect the teaching and student support capacity of Michigan community colleges so learners can access affordable, high quality learning experiences whenever and wherever needed.” Traditional colleges like Central Michigan University (CMU) excel in online learning, as well. CMU specifically offers more than 20 online degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s level.

Michigan education officials continue to increase both the availability and affordability of online learning in the state. As far back as 2006, the State Board of Education mandated that all high school students must complete at least one online course to ensure they are prepared for online classes at the post-secondary level. As of Fall of 2012, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 10.7 percent of students in degree-seeking post-secondary institutions were enrolled in some online courses, while 7.2 percent of students were completing a degree solely online.

Michigan’s online colleges, universities, and programs give students a more flexible way to earn a degree. Use this guide to learn more about Michigan online schools, find the one that fits your needs, and see how financial aid and scholarships can work for you. Start down your path to career success today.

The Best Affordable Colleges in Michigan for 2018

Aspiring students in Michigan have a big job sorting through the numerous online degree programs that the state’s colleges and universities offer. How does one choose the best accredited online colleges in Michigan? We have compiled the list below to help, ranking schools based on several factors including affordability, degree types, class size, student support and accreditation. Here, students can find the most affordable online colleges in Michigan. Check out the rankings below to see which schools are best-in-class.

badge
Methodology
  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI 100.00 $22,100 29 100% 12:143%yes yes yes

Founded in 1919, Siena Heights University (SHU) is one of 18 Dominican Catholic universities in the U.S. In addition to the main campus in Adrian, Michigan, SHU has seven other campuses and also offers fully online degree programs. SHU’s online bachelor’s degrees are geared towards adult learners needing maximum flexibility, and are offered in areas such as accounting, business administration, management, marketing, professional communication and nursing. Also available online are associate degrees, graduate degrees and a variety of minors. Online students can stay well-connected with the school via online support resources such as academic advising, individualized degree planning, library databases and assistance, tech support, online student accounts, social media and Spectra, the online campus and student newspaper. Students can also easily apply for and manage their financial aid online. SHU accepts transfer credits, and students may be eligible to receive credit for military service and other learning experiences such as employment, specialized training and volunteer work.

2 Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI 98.55 $14,472 27 92% 11:142%yes yes yes

Davenport University (DU), one of Michigan’s oldest and largest private, non-profit universities, has several campuses and learning centers across the state, along with its ever-expanding Global Campus. The Global Campus offers online degrees through DU’s Colleges of Business, Technology and Health Professions, with several career-focused four-year degrees in areas such as sports management, technology project management, cyber defense, nursing and accounting. Online courses here are presented through Blackboard and offered in either asynchronous or synchronous formats. Synchronous courses rely on Real Time Virtual learning (RTV) technology, which is great for online students wanting to participate in classes and lectures remotely. At DU, both new and continuing students who are attending a fully online program but live outside of Michigan state may qualify for a tuition discount. Additional tuition reduction may be available for military students and those attending DU through a partnership college articulation agreement, including several in Canada.

3 Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI 97.97 $11,165 22 79% 20:159%yes yes yes

It makes sense that with a large presence in Michigan state, Central Michigan University (CMU) also makes its mark as a large, global online university. This translates to a diverse selection of online educational opportunities, ranging from undergraduate certificates to doctoral degrees. CMU’s online bachelor’s degrees are offered in areas such as education, psychology, political science and fashion design, along with accelerated BS-MSA degrees in integrated leadership studies, administration and community development. These accelerated programs can help students save money in the long run, as some of the credits earned in the bachelor’s programs will go towards the MSA degrees. They can also save time, since students begin work on master’s courses while finishing their bachelor’s degrees. For increased convenience and flexibility, CMU’s online courses are offered in 8, 12 or 16-week blocks, in either synchronous or asynchronous format. Online students have access to several student support resources, despite being remote.

4 Michigan Technological University Houghton, MI 97.79 $13,740 5 94% 12:166%no yes yes

Michigan Technological University (MTU) is a public research institution located in Houghton, Michigan, with innovative degree programs focusing on science, math, technology and engineering. However, despite its name, the university also offers a range of programs in non-technical fields such as such as history, liberal arts, psychology, pharmaceutical chemistry, bioinformatics, forestry, and theater and entertainment technology. While MTU doesn’t currently offer fully online undergraduate degrees, it does make individual online courses available. At the graduate level, students can pursue an online undergraduate post-degree certificate, one of six master’s degree programs or a PhD in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Students who are accepted to MTU are automatically considered for several in-house merit-based scholarships. Those who are on-campus can apply for campus student jobs to help cover the cost of tuition. Paid undergraduate research, paid internship and full-time employment opportunities are often found through MTU career fairs, which are held each spring and fall.

5 Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, MI 97.49 $8,244 13 92% 18:138%yes yes yes

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) in Ypsilanti, just outside of Ann Arbor, is considered a major research and teaching institution. Founded in 1849, with roots in the education profession, EMU is one of the largest producers of education professionals in the U.S. Altough education is big at EMU, the college does offer several other undergraduate and graduate programs. Four-year degrees range from education to urban planning, with fully online programs available in dietetics, nursing and technology management. In addition to a range of program options, in-house scholarships are also plentiful at EMU, with almost 100 just through the College of Education alone. Students may also be able to save on tuition through transfer credits and Michigan community college articulation agreements.

6 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 97.39 $14,008 7 47% 12:190%no yes yes

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (U-M), founded in 1817, is the oldest public university in the state, and still consistently receives high-rankings, while also employing award-winning faculty. With almost 300 areas of study, there is no shortage of degree options here. Currently the university houses 19 colleges, several of which offer fully online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, in areas such as dental hygiene, automotive engineering, manufacturing, nursing and health management. Online courses and programs are also available through U-M’s Flint and Dearborn campuses. As far as affordability goes, students should check out U-M’s financial aid department for a list of in-house, state and private scholarships. Michigan residents may be eligible to get their tuition fully covered through the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver or the GO Blue Guarantee programs, plus campus-based students with young kids can apply for a U-M child care subsidy to help pay for child care while on-campus.

7 Marygrove College Detroit, MI 97.13 $19,936 9 94% 8:129%yes yes yes

Marygrove College in Detroit, is a Catholic, liberal arts graduate college that offers master’s degrees in teaching, with specialization in areas such as special education, mathematics, reading and literacy, and education leadership, plus master’s degrees in human resource management and social justice. Graduate certificates are also offered in human resource management, Autism spectrum disorder and school administration. Admission is selective, with basic requirements of at least a 3.0 GPA, along with an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, with possible additional criteria set by the individual program. Students can enroll either part-time or full-time, and many programs can be completed fully online and in two years or less. Depending on the program, courses will be either 7 or 15 weeks long. The MAT (Master in the Art of Teaching) degree is popular here, and is a 7-week, 2-course per semester program with a required Capstone project. Marygrove also offers an interest-free tuition payment plan.

8 Cornerstone University Grand Rapids, MI 97.13 $24,542 6 100% 20:148%yes yes yes

Cornerstone University (CU), located in Grand Rapids, began as a seminary school, and has evolved into an independent evangelical college offering degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Online programs here range from associate to doctoral level, with the majority being bachelor’s and master’s degree programs geared towards working adults. In addition to Christ-centered programs such as ministry leadership and biblical studies, CU Online offers several degrees in business, education, psychology and human services. Connected to the college is the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, for students looking for more in-depth theology-related graduate degree options. Online students of CU can take advantage of several student resources, including online library services, on-demand tutoring, and audio recordings of chapel services, and can sign up for free Microsoft software. CU also gives students opportunities to incorporate work and travel into their curriculum through ministry internships, fellowships, study tours, urban cohorts and off-campus semester study programs.

9 Northwood University-Michigan Midland, MI 97.11 $21,950 9 89% 14:153%yes yes yes

Students looking for a solid business-related degree program should check out Northwood University, a small, private, non-profit business school with a strong management focus. The main campus is in Midland, but there are other locations across Michigan and in Texas and California, along with several fully online and hybrid degree programs. A lot of the programs here are designed for adult working professionals, but students can also choose degree programs geared towards academics. Online students can go with more traditional majors, such as accounting, finance and marketing, or zero in on a more specific area such as sports management, automotive marketing and management or franchising management. The franchising management degree is unique to Northwood-it is the only fully accredited bachelor’s degree of its kind in the U.S. For students just starting out, Northwood offers the Educational Success Program, which is a 12-day residential program that helps high school graduates transition smoothly to college life.

10 Madonna University Livonia, MI 96.90 $17,250 4 86% 10:140%yes yes yes

Madonna University is a small, Catholic college with its main campus in Livonia, along with several others, including two international campuses. Degrees here are career-focused, with associate, bachelor’s, master’s and one doctoral degree available. What’s unique about Madonna is its program choices, which tend to zero in on specific interests and career paths. Madonna was the first in the country to offer bachelor’s degree in sign language studies and hospice education. Many programs are offered completely online and include areas of study such as family and consumer science, online teaching and eLearning, senior living administration and humane studies. Other more traditional majors offered online include criminal justice, accounting, hospitality and tourism management and an accelerated BSN program. Transfer students will be pleased to know that Madonna has articulation agreements with several community colleges. A large percentage of Madonna students receive financial aid, and luckily Madonna offers over 900 scholarships, plus students can apply for both state and federal aid programs.

11 Spring Arbor University Spring Arbor, MI 96.69 $23,750 11 99% 11:157%yes no yes

Since 1873 Spring Arbor University, a devoutly Christian institution, has provided diverse higher education opportunities to Michigan residents. Today, SAU has more than 70 different degree programs to choose from, with 11 learning facilities located across the state, plus one center located in Ohio. The university’s virtual campus, Spring Arbor University Online offers 10 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, giving students even more ways to complete their degree. Currently, undergraduates have three online bachelor degree programs available to them in nursing, social work and business. The bachelor of social work program is 100 percent online and has been recognized as a top 25 program among Christian universities. Classes through SAU Online are conducted in seven-week intervals, which allows students to take courses one at a time, right from home. Like traditional programs at SAU, all online programs incorporate religious-driven components to help develop students’ spiritual and mental health.

12 Ferris State University Big Rapids, MI 96.63 $10,556 18 67% 16:149%yes yes yes

Ferris State University has fully online and blended programs available in both graduate and undergraduate certificates as well as bachelor and master degrees. Through FSU Online, students can earn their bachelor degree from home in unique sectors such as technical education teaching, automotive management, dental hygiene, respiratory therapy, business and nursing. All of the online bachelor programs offered at FSU are designed as degree-completion programs. To enroll in one of the 11 available online bachelor programs, students must hold an associate degree or have accumulated between 40 and 48 college credits, depending on the program selected. To make the credit-transfer process simpler, FSU is part of two Michigan-based agreements that allow students to transfer up to 30 general education credits between schools. FSU also provides detailed information in an online guide to the transfer process for each community college within the state. Out-of-state students need not worry; FSU also has transfer agreements with at least one school and one degree program in every state, the highest concentration being in Illinois with 17 schools.

13 Cleary University Ann Arbor, MI 96.40 $19,200 13 89% 11:136%yes yes yes

Cleary University has roughly 135 years’ experience in the business of business. The eastern Michigan university has over 40 associate, bachelor, master and certificate programs available, all rooted in business practices. For online students, there are many opportunities to complete a bachelor of business administration degree either fully online as a degree-completion program or through a blended format. More than 15 business tracks are offered to students in specializations such as entrepreneurship, health care management, accounting and finance, executive management and international business management. Cleary University uses the learning management system Moodle to deliver web courses, and the amount of time required to complete a bachelor program heavily depends upon the degree track and student’s previous education. To honor professionals in public service, Cleary University began the courage and public service tuition program to help police, EMTs, park rangers, public school workers, firefighters and many more, affordably complete their bachelor degree. Qualifying individuals can take 100 percent online courses and can receive 90 transfer credits.

14 Wayne State University Detroit, MI 96.32 $10,995 10 88% 16:132%no yes yes

After 150 years of service in downtown Detroit, Wayne State University asserts that it is Michigan’s most diverse higher education institution. With more than 350 different academic programs available and students hailing from 70 countries around the world, Wayne State lives up to its claim. Extending from a vibrant campus life, Wayne State’s online programs have grown to include 100 percent online certificate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. The university also has a select number of partially online certificates and one doctoral program. To enroll in the online Bachelor of Social Work program, students must have, or be in the process of earning, 60 college credits, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. To graduate from the program, students must complete a total of 120 credits, including nine electives and 51 core credit hours taken at Wayne State.

15 Baker College of Flint Flint, MI 96.30 $8,280 17 82% 19:19%yes yes yes

The largest independent university in Michigan, the Baker College of Flint has 11 campuses sprinkled around the state and an acclaimed virtual school, Baker Online. In 2016, the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) bestowed Baker Online with an “exemplary" status on its quality scorecard, the OLC’s parameter for judging colleges. Through Baker Online students have numerous program options offered at every level of post-secondary education. More than 25 bachelor degree programs can be completed fully online, a few of which, such as the information systems, psychology and general studies degrees, are only offered through e-learning. Other online bachelor degrees offered at Baker College include programs in computer science, teaching, business, healthcare and criminal justice. Just as in an on-campus classroom, virtual classes are structured with due dates and deadlines, and students can collaborate and converse with professors and fellow pupils all online. Baker College’s digital library never closes its doors, so online students always have access to research resources.

16 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 96.18 $13,954 15 45% 17:178%no yes yes

With an annual student enrollment surpassing 50,000, Michigan State University is the largest academic institution operating in Michigan. Students take classes on-campus in East Lansing, at distance learning centers around the state, abroad and online. MSU offers over 200 degree programs and more than 100 online courses each semester. At the bachelor, master and doctorate level, MSU has over 40 online and hybrid degree programs available. Undergraduates can earn an online degree in either nursing or early care and education. The bachelor of arts in early care and education is a hybrid program, with a minimum 50 percent of coursework being completed online. The bachelor of science in nursing program (RN to BSN) is presented as a part-time, online program to be completed over five semesters. It was designed with working registered nurses in mind, giving them a leg up in their careers with a higher accolade. To help pay for college, MSU has financial aid resources available and scholarship opportunities. In 2018, MSU gave out nearly $500,000,000 in financial aid to students.

17 Northern Michigan University Marquette, MI 96.10 $8,664 7 84% 21:148%yes yes yes

The global campus at Northern Michigan University is making it easier than ever to earn a degree online and at one tuition price, regardless of where you call home. All students taking online classes at NMU pay in-state tuition rates, and those living in areas of northern Wisconsin and Michigan can qualify for free LTE internet service, provided by NMU. The global campus at NMU has 18 online degree programs, seven of which are offered at the undergraduate level. Online bachelor degrees are available in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, loss prevention management, clinical lab sciences and workplace leadership. To enter the nursing or clinical lab sciences program, students must have previous education, such as an associate degree and certifications in each field. Online courses are conducted through EduCat, NMU’s digital classroom system, created through Moodle. With EduCat, students participate in live discussions, turn in homework and have access to class documents, simulating a real-life classroom experience.

18 University of Michigan-Dearborn Dearborn, MI 95.91 $10,542 11 70% 15:152%no yes yes

At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the student body is Michigan-proud with 96 percent native to the state. Through online education however, students can now enroll in UMD programs without leaving their home state thanks to interstate online education agreements. UMD’s online learning department has 18 master’s degree programs, created for students with busy lifestyles. Students can earn their degree entirely online in business, computer science, engineering, management or education. Online courses are delivered through Canvas, a digital space that functions as a classroom. Students can download an app to their smart device and have access to their courses at anytime. In addition to the 18 fully online degrees, UMD has many other graduate programs that can be completed mostly online or in a hybrid capacity. For undergraduate students, UMD has hundreds of individual online courses available each semester that students across degree levels can enroll in.

19 Grace Christian University Wyoming, MI 95.83 $12,239 3 81% 13:141%yes yes yes

In addition to its traditional on-campus undergraduate programs, Grace Christian University has several online bachelor degree options designed as adult education programs. Grace Christian University incorporates Christian religious practices and beliefs into the mold of every program and offers degrees in faith practices. Through GCU Online, students can complete a bachelor of science in business, leadership and ministry, human services and psychology. Within each degree path, students can opt for a concentration in either marketing, women’s ministry, adult aging, criminal justice, youth ministry or in any of the four majors. To complete these programs, students need 120 total credits, with 60 bachelor credits. GCU estimates students spend two to four years earning their bachelor degree, depending on the student’s previous education experience and earned credits.

20 Oakland University Rochester Hills, MI 95.36 $11,460 5 69% 21:143%no yes yes

Specializing in nursing, education, health sciences and engineering, Oakland University has 15 fully online degree programs available to students. Two bachelor degree programs are currently offered, one in environmental health and safety (EHS) and one in nursing. The bachelor of science in nursing degree is a BSN-completion program for registered nurses who have an associate degree. Students can take online classes in 14-week intervals or at an accelerated rate, completing classes in intense, seven-week sessions. The bachelor of science in EHS is also totally online and should require four years of academic study to complete. All of OU’s online courses are administered through the digital education system Moodle and the university provides online technical support for the system. Some courses may require students participation in real-time activities. The online undergraduate degree programs at OU are provided at in-state tuition costs for all students.

21 Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI 94.58 $9,794 4 53% 17:155%no yes yes

Western Michigan University has nine campuses extending throughout Michigan, two locations in Florida and an online education department, offering 16 virtual degree programs. Six online undergraduate degrees are offered in areas such as nursing, comparative religion, health services and family studies. The B.S. in family studies or in child and family development programs can be completed fully online or, if a student desires, classes can be taken at the Kalamazoo campus. After completing either of these degrees, students are granted the position of Certified Family Life Educator. WMU gives online students a variety of services and resources to address any issues or confusion with distance learning. Step-by-step instructions for accessing online classes and operating WMU eLearning, the digital platform used for courses, can be found on the school’s website.

22 University of Michigan-Flint Flint, MI 93.04 $9,276 7 52% 15:138%no no yes

At the University of Michigan-Flint, undergraduate students can earn a bachelor of business administration degree fully online with three degree specializations. Currently the BBA programs are the only online undergraduate degrees provided by UM-Flint, but individual online classes can be completed to supplement face-to-face courses. The online BBA degree can be earned in accounting, marketing and general business. To apply to this program, students must be accepted to UM-Flint or transfer with 25 minimum earned credits and have already completed pre-business courses. Classes are operated through Blackboard, a virtual learning system, and assignments are completed on the student’s time. The online BBA program adheres to the school’s normal semester patterns and does not offer any classes at accelerated speeds. Offered through UM-Flint’s School of Management, online students can partake in student activities such as studying abroad, internship programs and a business pitch competition.

23 Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration Troy, MI 89.21 $12,000 7 N/A 12:1N/Ano yes yes

Walsh College has provided business education to students in the Detroit area since the early 1920s. Throughout the years, Walsh has grown in size and in program diversity. Today the college has two campuses, multiple learning centers and a digital learning platform, offering certificates and bachelor and master’s degree programs in business fields such as marketing, management and accountancy. Undergraduate students at Walsh can earn a bachelor of business administration degree online, with four majors to choose from: marketing, general business, management or finance. Students can also pick a minor to add-on to their program in finance, information technology, accounting, marketing or management. A typical baccalaureate program requires four years to complete, but students transferring to Walsh with prior credits can graduate faster. Walsh allows students to transfer a maximum of 82 credits from community colleges and 91 from a university.

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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor, MI 100.00 $3,576 14 9% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Delta College University Center, MI 98.47 $4,407 10 9% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 North Central Michigan College Petoskey, MI 98.08 $4,763 18 16% 16:1N/Ano yes yes
4 Macomb Community College Warren, MI 98.04 $4,340 40 7% 26:1N/Ano yes yes
5 Schoolcraft College Livonia, MI 97.30 $4,050 13 24% 24:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 Kirtland Community College Roscommon, MI 95.81 $4,110 6 17% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
7 Henry Ford Community College Dearborn, MI 95.62 $3,582 10 1% 20:1N/Ano yes yes
8 Glen Oaks Community College Centreville, MI 95.18 $3,792 3 36% 20:1N/Ano no yes

Tuition in Michigan: Rates & Financial Aid Facts

Tuition for residents of Michigan attending school in-state is always more affordable than for non-residents. To secure in-state-tuition rates, students must be able to provide proof of domicile and physical presence for 12 months before the entry date. Non-residents would pay in the realm of 63 percent higher tuition rates, but out-of-state students may be eligible for good-neighbor programs that provide discounted rates. See below for the average annual tuition costs, and read on for more specific information regarding tuition and financial aid.

In-state tuition: $21,380 four-year public institution

$3,179 – public, two-year institution

Out-of-state tuition: $34,863 – four-year public institution

$6,590 – public, two-year institution

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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Do students in pay in-state tuition or out-of-state tuition for online colleges in Michigan?

According to the Center for Online Education, the tuition that is owed is entirely dependent on the institution and the degree program. Many state and public institutions charge out-of-state tuition even for an online degree. However, there are many tuition breaks that students can find, too. The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) includes 12 neighboring states that are committed to improving education accessibility: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In this group’s Midwest Student Exchange Program, public universities cannot charge more than 150 percent of in-state tuition for non-residents, as opposed to the up to triple the amount that residents do.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1. Check with an admissions or financial officer. Tuition rates are ultimately program- and institution-based. Ask someone from a prospective program about what rates apply to you specifically as a potential member of a specific program.

  • 2. Research additional options. Even a non-resident can earn tuition breaks if they meet certain criteria. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do some research, it could literally pay off.

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How do I find and apply for financial aid in Michigan?

Since 1964, Michigan’s state government has given more than $4 billion in aid to students. The first step in applying for financial aid for any degree program is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).The FAFSA will help potential applicants understand what they’re eligible for and determine eligibility for school-specific financial aid programs.

From there, applicants should look at Michigan Student Aid. The state’s Department of the Treasury’s Student Financial Services Bureau provides equality of access to student financial resources and information. Starting in September 2017, the office started the MI College, MI Future, MI Doorstep program that acts as a hub for scholarship searches, cost comparisons and financial aid presentations. Finally, students should look specifically for institution-specific financial aid. For instance, Michigan State University awarded over 50,000 students financial aid help, totaling more than $1 billion dollars all together in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.

There are stipulations to be aware of when applying for and maintaining financial aid. Each scholarship, grant or loan will have different guidelines, so students should take care to understand those that are specific to them. A great first step in figuring out how to qualify for scholarships will be to figure out what qualities set you apart from other students. Applicants may automatically qualify for some programs based on certain qualities: ethnicity/heritage, hardships faced and family history are examples of characteristics that would help a student automatically qualify, as well as some of the requirements listed below:

  • Test scores. Some scholarships have test score minimums for the SAT or ACT. For instance, the Michigan Competitive Scholarship requires a minimum SAT score of 1200.

  • Criminal record. Aspiring students cannot have a history of incarceration on their record if they’re going to apply for most state financial aid programs.

  • Loan Status: For many scholarship programs, applicants must not be in default on a state or federal loan.

  • Max credit loads. Financial aid programs often have load requirements. GEAR UP holds students to a half-time (six credit) minimum, but other programs may require full-time status.

  • Residency. Students must be able to prove residency. The Michigan Tuition Grant requires one year of residency to qualify, and this is a requirement for state-specific grants.

Michigan’s College Scholarships & Grant Options

The state of Michigan Student Financial Services Bureau provides numerous aid programs in addition to the institution-specific opportunities found at each school. Programs like the Tuition Incentive Program helps incentivize kids to complete high school by helping pay tuition for the first two years of college and beyond. Also, each university or college has a financial aid department that awards monies to students, and additionally, individual colleges within the larger university may have scholarships available, too.

How can I find out which grants or scholarships are available to me?

Filling out the FAFSA will help students determine eligibility for additional scholarships, and will also dictate which university-specific programs a student may qualify for. Also identifying the individual characteristics that set students apart from the crowd, such this list of scholarships available on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services site dedicated to minority students. There are often resources available for all types of individuals, including red-heads, vegetarians, left-handed people, athletes and members of professional groups like Future Farmers of America (FFA). Keep in mind that there are national scholarships, as well as non-institution-specific programs that anyone can apply for.

Are there scholarships and grants that only Michigan students can apply for?

Programs found at MI Student Aid are for residents only. The Michigan Tuition Incentive Program is one such program, as is the Children of Veterans Tuition Grant. Other resident-specific programs include the Michigan Tuition Grant and the Fostering Futures Scholarship. Additional programs include Teacher Loan Forgiveness for students who go into teaching careers and GearUp Michigan, which targets three at-risk student populations across the state. CollegeGrants has additional resources, including private scholarships targeted toward everyone from nurses to speech and debate students to Kalamazoo-school graduates.

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Find and Compare Online Colleges in Michigan

It can be intimidating to try to sort through online programs and narrow down the contenders, especially if looking for answers just brings up more questions. We’ve put together answers for some of the common questions about online degree programs in Michigan that were asked by other perspective students.

Which schools will take my transfer credits or apply my work experience for credit in Michigan?

More and more universities are giving students college credit for life and work experience, in addition to previous coursework. Below are some examples of schools that offer this type of credit, though it is not complete. Don’t be afraid to explore this option with an admissions office or academic advisor before enrolling. Also, investigate the Michigan Transfer Network, which shows students and advisers the courses equivalent to one another at many of Michigan’s colleges and universities.

Central Michigan University – Earn up to 60 credits ($19,320 of undergraduate savings) for prior learning credit, which can come from work, training, and life experience.

Davenport University – Earn credits with a portfolio that outlines how your life experience has taught you college-level learning. Davenport also participates in the CLEP and gives credit for corporate training.

Michigan State University – Check out the school’s transfer guide to see which credits will transfer from other institutions.

Mid-Michigan Community College – Earn credits for military credit, advanced placement or the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).

University of Michigan – Accepts transferable credits when they meet the guidelines outlined in their program.

If I live in Michigan, do I have to choose an online college based in Michigan?

No, students who live in Michigan are not required to search only Michigan for places to earn an online degree. When researching other programs in other states there are a couple of critical factors to consider. See if the school or degree program offers reduced out-of-state tuition. Through good neighbor programs or reciprocity like the Midwest Student Exchange Program, it’s possible that a student can secure discounted tuition rates. If this isn’t a possibility, the student must understand that they’ll pay out-of-state tuition. Other factors to consider in any degree program are accreditation and program quality, this is premium information for any prospective applicant.

What is the best way to find out which of Michigan’s college options are right for me?

Choosing the right degree program is personal, and should be decided by taking into consideration personal preferences. What is most important to an aspiring student? Tuition cost? Student support? Graduation/completion rates? Job placement statistics? These are all factors that influence a person’s commitment to and likelihood of completing a program.