The University of Michigan's 2010-2011 general fund budget includes $126 million in centrally awarded financial aid. Nearly 67 percent of resident undergraduates and 57 percent of nonresident undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. That's a substantial commitment to helping students with need pursue a world-class education at U-M.
One of the important commitments for students who receive financial aid is to maintain regular contact with the university about any changes in their financial situation. Some of these changes may be captured in the yearly Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Changes that should be shared with the Office of Financial Aid include events in family situations that may affect a student's financial aid, such as a new job (or the loss of a job), divorce, or health care costs not covered by insurance.
"When in doubt, report the information and let one of our advisors decide if it changes a student's eligibility or financial aid package," says Vickie Crupper, associate director, Office of Financial Aid. "We want to help, so staying in touch with us throughout the process, including during loan repayment, is very important."
In addition to keeping financial information current between the university and students, parents should talk to their students about money management. The U-M resource CashCourse can help students learn basics including budgeting, balancing accounts, and keeping tabs on their credit history and activity.
As graduation nears, students with loans will need to complete exit counseling and set up their repayment plan. Crupper also advises students to update their contact information in Wolverine Access. "The Office of Financial Aid is always looking for information about reducing loan debt; and without the right contact information, we are not able to share valuable information with former students."
Above all else, Crupper advises parents to remind their students to ask for help when they need it -- ignoring a problem is never a good idea.
For more information, the Office of Financial Aid website has valuable resources, including a parent's guide, a financial aid estimator, and a thorough FAQ.