While a college education can seem exorbitantly expensive, fortunately, there are college scholarships to help students navigate the troubled financial waters of paying for higher education. Michigan Competitive Scholarship (MCS) is one such scholarship program and has helped students pay for college in Michigan schools for the last six decades.

What is the Michigan Competitive Scholarship?

What is the Michigan Competitive Scholarship

The MCS was created in the 60s with the goal of encouraging students to pursue postsecondary education. Today, the program is available to students who will be pursuing their undergrad degree for the first time at an approved Michigan institution (there are currently over 70 such institutions).

Students who achieve the aware are able to demonstrate financial need, merit, and the promise of being able to satisfactorily complete their postsecondary degree.

Who Awards the MCS?

The MCS is run out of the Michigan Department of the Treasury with funds appropriated each year by the Higher Education Appropriations Act. The Student Scholarships and Grants Division administers the award. To receive priority consideration, students must have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before March 1.

How Do You Know if You’re Eligible for a Michigan Competitive Scholarship?

How Do You Know if You’re Eligible for a Michigan Competitive Scholarship

To be eligible, you must be a student pursuing your first undergraduate degree at an approved Michigan institution. In addition, students must have scored at least 1200 on their SAT and show financial need and merit. Here are further eligibility requirements:

  • Be enrolled at least part-time (half) at a Michigan community college, public university, or nonprofit independent college that is degree-granting and is not primarily to prepare students for ordination or religious appointment
  • Be a US citizen, permanent resident, or approved refugee
  • Be able to provide your social security number
  • Have achieved a high school diploma (or recognized equivalent)
  • Be a resident of Michigan since July 1 of the prior year (dependent students’ parents must also be Michigan residents)
  • Not be incarcerated

Scholarships are eligible for renewal, but to be so, students must have a GPA of at least 2.0 and must have satisfied the institution’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy.

How Much Will I Receive?

The MCS is for up to $1,000 per year and is renewable annually as noted above for up to ten semesters (five years). It will expire when the student has been out of high school for more than ten years.

What Expenses Will the MCS Cover?

The MCS is typically paid out directly to the college itself, and may only be used to cover tuition and fees that are considered mandatory. Room and board and other types of expenses are up to the student.

How Do I Apply?

Students must utilize the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship. As noted earlier, if students wish to receive priority consideration, their FAFSA must be completed by March 1 of the enrollment year.

To renew the scholarship upon each academic year, students must complete a new FAFSA. The FAFSA is an online form that helps to standardize the admission and financial aid process country-wide. Prospective students in the United States applying to most college in the US fill it out to determine their eligibility for aid.

Since almost all students are eligible for some kind of financial aid, if only an unsubsidized Stafford Loan, it’s important that the form is filled out in a timely and accurate manner. On the form, students have the opportunity to list multiple colleges; when they’ve shared the FAFSA was program such as the Michigan Competitive Scholarship, the MSC will base need eligibility on the first college listed.

If students wish to change their selected school, they may notify the Student Scholarships and Grants office by visiting the MiSSG Student Portal or calling the office (888-447-2687).

The MCS doesn’t make its application or selection process public, but most college scholarship applications include the following:

  • Personal letter or essay
  • Letter of recommendation
  • List of leadership, community service, and/or extra curricular activities

How to Improve Your Chances of Winning an MCS Scholarship

How to Improve Your Chances of Winning an MCS Scholarship

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

One of the most important parts of a scholarship application is a letter of recommendation. Scholarship applications sometimes require two, though usually just one, and these are used to help gain an outside perspective on the student. Is the student trustworthy?

Does the student’s application match what other people have to say about him or her? Is the student a team player, and is he or she an asset to the teams she works on?

Your first step to getting a great letter of recommendation is to identify the right recommender. While it’s tempting to ask the most important person you know, it is sometimes better to ask somebody who might be less well-known or in a less prestigious position, simply because that person might know you better and be able to deliver a more personal, detailed review of your character.

Don’t Rush It

While it’s not uncommon for highschool seniors to scramble at the last minute to get out important documents and complete the application process, it’s important not to rush this part of the process. We recommend that students as young as junior high begin now to cultivate close relationships with mentors, coaches, teachers, and others who can later speak to the student’s character.

When you do ask, make sure you give your potential recommender the opportunity to decline if he or she feels a positive reference can’t be given. There’s nothing worse than a negative or less-than-glowing letter of recommendation!

To help avoid this, ask your potential recommender, “would you feel comfortable giving me a strong, glowing letter of recommendation?” If he or she says no, you can thank that person graciously and move on!

Plan Ahead

Make sure you give your recommender 10-12 weeks to complete the letter; this means you’ll have to plan far in advance, which is an important part of the scholarship application process.

We recommend paying careful attention to the calendar and keeping detailed notes of which applications are pending and which have been submitted. Keeping folders full of documentation for each scholarship is a great technique to help you stay organized.

Wow the Committee With a Great Personal Essay or Letter

Most scholarship applications require some kind of essay or letter that’s under 1,000 words. This is often the applicant’s least favorite part of the process, but it doesn’t need to be. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to reveal to the judges what the numbers on the application won’t: who you are, why you make a difference to the community around you, and your hopes and dreams for the future.

Plus, the personal letter is an opportunity to explain extenuating circumstances, such as why you had a bad year your freshman year of highschool.

Community Involvement, Extracurriculars, and Leadership

One of the things the selection committee will want to know is whether or not their selected applicants are contributing members to society–especially, to the Michigan community. Being able to demonstrate your active participation and leadership in sports, local service opportunities, or after-school clubs helps them to see how you’re able to learn from other people and be a leader.

Make sure you’re descriptive. Instead of saying, for example, that you ran for student government in high school, explain that you wanted to run to be a student voice for healthier food options in the cafeteria, and so you talked to other students, researched other options, met with the principle and presented a plan as part of your running strategy.

Keep in mind that quality is usually more important than quantity. While the selection committee wants to know that you’re well-rounded and not just about academics, it’s better to be deeply involved in one or two organizations or projects rather than so many organizations that you can barely find time to attend all the meetings.

Don’t Disqualify Yourself

It’s not uncommon for students to believe that only the presidents of the student body who have perfect GPAs get scholarships; that’s just not the case! There are countless dollars available for students like yourself, so do your homework and work hard to put together a cohesive application that demonstrates your value as a future student.

Our final piece of advice as you apply for a Michigan Competitive Scholarship? We have just six words for you: proof read, proof read, proof read. Get at least one or two sharp sets of eyes to double-check your application for typos, incorrect grammar, and readability.

Most of all, good luck! Michigan is filled with great colleges, and the Michigan Competitive Scholarship is a terrific opportunity to fund your future dreams.

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