Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is hoping to increase the number of high school seniors who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by challenging schools across the state to set a bold completion goal. High schools accepting the challenge should sign up for the College Cash Campaign, which will provide the resources necessary to support high schools working to prioritize FAFSA completion.
The challenge was created through a partnership with the Student Scholarship and Grants (SSG) – Michigan Department of Treasury, the Executive Office of the Governor, Michigan Department of Education (MDE), Michigan Department of Labor Economic and Opportunity (LEO), Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP), and the Detroit Regional Chamber (DRC)
In 2019, the average FAFSA completion rate in Michigan was 56%. Gov. Whitmer hopes to increase that to 75%. About 51,000 high school seniors did not complete the FAFSA last year.
Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school. Many states and colleges use FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use FAFSA information to determine whether students qualify for their aid, including the Pell Grant. In Michigan, approximately 48 percent of students are eligible for Pell Grants, meaning 24,800 seniors who may have been awarded a Pell Grant did not receive one.
The average Pell Grant awarded to a student is $4,010, meaning Michigan left nearly $100 million in unused federal financial aid on the table.
“Every student deserves a path to a quality, affordable postsecondary education, and filling out FAFSA forms can make an enormous difference for families across the state,” Gov. Whitmer said. “I just finished helping my daughter fill out her FAFSA application while she applied to colleges. It’s simple and can help students everywhere get on a path to a quality postsecondary education. I’m excited to partner with MCAN as they work to spread the word about FAFSA and hope high schools everywhere will accept the challenge and aim for a 75% rate.”
Schools registering to participate in the College Cash Campaign are eligible for incentives. Schools that reach the FAFSA completion rates below will be provided items to celebrate the work done and encourage a continued dedication to the work.
All registered sites will receive College Bound stickers. Schools that have a 60% completion rate will get drawstring bags for seniors; 65% will get a framed tribute from the Executive Office of the Governor; 70% will earn a Counselor/Adviser Reward; and 75% will earn a FAFSA Completion Award and social media recognition by MCAN and the Executive Office of the Governor.
To support the FAFSA completion efforts in your school, MCAN has created a College Cash Campaign Implementation Guide. The guide should serve as a master resource for implementing the Campaign and guiding students through the FAFSA. Additionally, a College Cash Campaign toolbox is available for additional support and resources including the following: