Supporting the Governor's FAFSA Challenge

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer challenged all Michigan high schools to set a bold FAFSA completion goal, select a FAFSA champion, and systematically track data on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completions. 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 goal of the College Cash Campaign is to increase Michigan’s FAFSA completion rate to 75%.

The Need

  • FAFSA is the only way to unlock the Pell Grant, other federal financial aid, all state financial aid, and most institutional and community-based financial aid.
  • The FAFSA Completion rate in Michigan for the 2019-20 year was 51.9%, compared to 52.5% in the 2018-2019 year.
  • Michigan currently ranks 29th out of 50 states in the percentage of high schools graduates filing the FAFSA.
  • FAFSA completion rates are lower, on average, in high-poverty districts than in low-poverty districts. Michigan left over $100 million in unused federal financial aid on the table last year.
  • In Michigan, approximately 51% of students are eligible for Pell Grants, meaning almost 27,000 seniors who may have been awarded a Pell Grant did not receive one.
  • The average Pell Grant awarded to a student in 2018-19 was $4,271, meaning Michigan left nearly $120 million in federal Pell Grants untapped.
  • Ninety percent (90%) of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA immediately enroll in postsecondary education programs, compared to 50% of those who do not complete the FAFSA.
  • Low-income seniors are 127% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education directly after high school, compared to peers who do not complete the form.

The Michigan FAFSA Tracker

The Michigan FAFSA Tracker provides accessible data for schools to better understand their current FAFSA completion landscape and progress with the College Board Opportunity Scholarship (CBOS) steps. The FAFSA data displayed on the tracker is provided by MI Student Aid within the Michigan Department of Treasury. The CBOS data on the tracker is provided by the College Board.

Through the FAFSA Tracker, all College Cash Campaign sites will have access to an individual school profile displaying current FAFSA completion data, trends over time, and a comparison to previous FAFSA completion cycles, in addition to CBOS data. The tracker is a great tool for school counselors to track their school’s progress and to easily highlight the successes.

Schools are highly encouraged to submit a Data Use Agreement to MI Student Aid to access the MISSG Portal. The MISSG Portal provides access to student level data on FAFSA completion and allows counselors and school administrators to identify students who may be in need of additional support.

Michigan FAFSA Tracker →


Detroit Regional Chamber (DRC)
Executive Office of the Governor
Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP)
Michigan Department of Education (MDE)
Michigan Department of Labor Economic and Opportunity (LEO)
Student Scholarships and Grants (SSG) – Michigan Department of Treasury


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.

CAVA, MCAN's College Access Virtual Assistant is currently available to the high school class of 2023. CAVA, is a web- and text-based chatbot that connects Michigan students with resources, support, and up-to-date information on the college-going process. Conversations are interactive and responsive, and students get their questions answered in real time, 24/7.