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Michigan State launches tuition-free promise for families making up to $65K

two students walking on MSU campus
Michigan State University’s new Spartan Tuition Advantage will cover the cost of full tuition for Michigan high school graduates who have a family income of $65,000 or less and qualify for Federal Pell Grants. By fall 2027, the school estimates about 6,000 students will qualify for the program. (Courtesy photo: Michigan State University)
  • Michigan State University has a new tuition-free program for students from families that make $65,000 a year or less
  • Eligible students must also qualify for a Federal Pell Grant
  • Several Michigan colleges and universities have tuition-free guarantees for eligible students

Michigan State University is launching a free-tuition program for some high school graduates starting with the class of 2024. 

The Spartan Tuition Advantage, announced Monday, will cover the cost of full tuition for Michigan high school graduates who have a family income of $65,000 or less and qualify for Federal Pell Grants, awarded to students from lower-income backgrounds. The student is guaranteed free tuition using a combination of federal, state and MSU aid. 


Students do not need to fill out a separate scholarship application for the MSU program, but must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify. It costs about $16,000 in tuition and fees for an in-state undergraduate student to take two semesters of classes during the 2023-2024 school year


MSU expects the program to cover more than 6,000 students and cost $16 million annually when the program is fully-implemented in fall 2027. Qualified students, including part-time and full-time students, will be eligible for each year of their undergraduate education.  

John Ambrose, MSU’s executive director of admissions, said in a statement Monday the new program will help every Michigan high school graduate see a degree at MSU as “an attainable goal.”

“Our commitment to Michigan students is that when you choose to be a Spartan,,  we will equip you with the tools and resources needed to be successful,” Ambrose said. “And this new financial aid package is yet another tool.”

MSU Spokesperson Dan Olsen said the state’s recently enacted scholarship program, the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, passed in September of last year, helped make it possible for MSU to use existing funds to launch its free-tuition program. 

The Michigan Achievement Scholarship allows Michigan high school graduates starting with the class of 2023 to receive up to $5,500 a year to attend a public four-year university, $4,000 a year to attend a nonprofit independent college or $2,750 a year to attend a community college in Michigan. 

The Spartan Tuition Advantage announced Monday replaces the Spartan Advantage program, which provided free tuition, fees, housing and books for students who had an expected family contribution of $0 to their child’s college education.  

Since 2006, the school has covered the costs of nearly 12,000 students, totaling more than $387 million in aid from that previous program, according to a news release. 

Olsen said students who currently have Spartan Advantage funding will continue to receive their aid as long as they meet eligibility criteria. 

Olsen said the new program will not cover room and board and other student fees, which typically amount to about $11,750 a year, but students with financial need may qualify for other forms of aid to cover those fees. 

Other Michigan universities and colleges also offer tuition-free guarantees. Wayne State University announced its Wayne State Guarantee earlier this year, which covers tuition and mandatory fees for students with family incomes of $70,000 or less. The Michigan Association of State Universities, which represents the state’s 15 public universities, has a list of tuition guarantees and eligibility requirements on its website. 

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has the Go Blue Guarantee, a tuition-free guarantee for in-state students who come from families who make $75,000 or less a year and have less than $75,000 in assets. UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint also have tuition-free guarantees with lower income thresholds.


Aquinas College, Baker College, Cleary University, Olivet College, Cornerstone University have all announced tuition-free programs for some students who qualify for the new state scholarship as well. 

MSU is waiving its $65 application fee for all in-state applicants if they apply to the school by Oct. 21. Applicants should use the code Spartan1855 to get the discount. 

The Michigan College Access Network, an organization focused on increasing college access especially low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color, has a list of Michigan schools that are offering discounts on application fees during October.

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