All About Grants

Qualify Based on Your FAFSA

Grants are one of the best types of financial aid because you don’t have to pay them back. They’re designed to help make college accessible for everyone so that all students can pursue their dreams.

The two biggest grant programs are the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. You may have heard that if your family’s income is above a certain level, you aren’t eligible for federal grants. That isn’t necessarily true. 

Your eligibility primarily depends on the results from your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You also must meet a few other eligibility requirements.

No matter what your family income may be, you should fill out the FAFSA. Students who skip the FAFSA leave billions of dollars on the table every year.

Federal Pell Grant

The main source of grant money is the Federal Pell Grant program. Your lifetime eligibility for Pell Grants is limited to 12 full-time semesters or their equivalent.

A regular Pell Grant applies to fall and winter semesters, but Year-Round Pell boosts your regular grant by 50 percent so you can continue with summer classes. Taking classes during summer semester helps you finish your degree faster.

To qualify for summer Pell money, you must take at least six credits total during the two summer semesters and meet the other Pell Grant requirements. That’s it. If you’re eligible to receive a grant, you’ll get it automatically when you register for summer classes.

How much Pell money you receive for summer depends on:

  • How much you received for fall and winter semesters
  • How many credits you take during the summer

Here’s an example: Say you took 12 credits in both fall and winter and qualified for a Pell Grant of $4,000, or $2,000 per semester. If you took 12 credits during the summer semesters, you’d get another $2,000. If you took nine credits, you’d receive $1,500. And if you took six credits, you’d get $1,000.

State Grant Programs

The State of Michigan offers several grant programs for college students:

  • Dual Enrollment: Students in grades 9-12 can take up to 10 classes at OCC for free through Dual Enrollment. The Michigan Department of Education funds the program. Learn more.

  • Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver: Students who are at least 25 percent Native American blood quantum and are enrolled citizens of a U.S. Federally Recognized Tribe qualify for free tuition at OCC.

  • Tuition Incentive Program: TIP provides tuition assistance to eligible Medicaid recipients for qualifying certificate, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree programs.

  • Michigan Reconnect: Michigan residents who are at least 25, have a high school diploma or GED, and don’t have a college or university degree can get free tuition at OCC. Learn more.

OCC Grant Programs

OCC has two grant programs of its own:

  • Board of Trustees Awards: Students who live in the district and have financial need are eligible to receive up to $1,600.

  • Student Success Fund: Students who suffer a sudden crisis can apply for a grant. Depending on funding availability, you can receive up to $500 or a laptop computer. You can’t use the money for tuition. Instead, it’s designed to help with rent, utilities, transportation, food, technology needs, textbooks, required course materials, or unexpected expenses. To learn more, contact the OCC Foundation or 248.341.2137.

If Your Financial Situation Changes

After you’ve qualified for a Pell Grant, stuff can happen that affects your ability to pay for college. For example, you or a parent might lose a job, or a family member might need expensive medical care that’s not covered by insurance.  

If something like this happens, contact the Financial Aid office to see if we can increase your Pell Grant. You’ll need a compelling explanation and documentation to support your request. But if you have a strong case, you may be able to get more money.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

Students with exceptional financial need may qualify for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant. Pell Grant recipients receive priority.

As with Pell Grants, your eligibility is determined from information you supply on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Funds for this program are limited, so it’s critical to submit your FAFSA as early as possible.

Don’t Be Forced to Repay Your Federal Grants

Normally, you don’t have to repay federal grants that you receive for college. But in some cases you do.

This can happen if you drop classes, withdraw from school, or just don’t show up for your classes. Consider two cases:

  • If you completely withdraw from OCC before 60 percent of the semester is over, you must repay a pro-rated portion of the federal aid you received. For example, If you complete 20 percent of the semester you must repay 80 percent of the money, if you complete 30 percent you must repay 70 percent, and so forth.

  • If you don’t show up during the first 20 percent of a course, you receive an N mark. This blocks you from attending or dropping the course. You also must repay all your federal financial aid.

If you have to repay your grant, you won’t be able to register for classes or receive financial aid until you do.

Michigan Education Savings Program

The Michigan Education Savings Program allows parents to save money for their child’s college education while saving on taxes. Taxpayers filing jointly may deduct up to $10,000 in MESP contributions each year from their Michigan adjusted gross income. In addition, investment earnings are not subject to federal or state taxes when they’re used for qualified education expenses.