The goal of the College Cash CampaignI initiative is to raise awareness about financial aid – specifically, filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and applying for scholarships. Students often feel a sense of relief when they learn about available financial aid. Many of the students I serve come from low-income families. These students tend to limit their educational goals because they believe they cannot afford to attend a postsecondary institution. This is simply not true. After I inform my students that they could potentially be awarded a Federal Pell Grant and other forms of aid if they file the FAFSA, a world of possibilities opens up for them. The myth of a college education being unattainable is proven wrong. In turn, students pursue a college education.

Another program that I like to educate my students about is the Tuition Incentive Program (TIP) and other MI Student Aid programs. 

The beauty of these programs is that some are stackable, which means the aid can be used with other forms of financial assistance. 

Many times students are not only concerned about tuition, but also worry about living expenses. When a TIP-eligible student learns about their eligibility for fully-paid tuition at a community college or Phase I institution, and the possibility of Pell Grant funds being returned to them after TIP is applied to their bill, it makes a world of difference for the student’s financial situation.

Though there are many resources available to students, a challenge is that some simply refuse to file FAFSA. They hold the belief that if they attend college, outstanding debt is inevitable. This has been especially difficult this year; many of my students are entering the workforce immediately after they graduate. Many of them take this path in hopes of avoiding student debt. Many parents also question whether their children should apply for the FAFSA, because they hold a similar notion that college is not for everyone and not attainable for students from low-income households. During these situations, I appreciate the training AdviseMI and Michigan College Access Network has provided to advisers. I am able to educate and inform families about the importance of filing the FAFSA, gaining a better education, and reassure them that it is possible to graduate college without accumulating massive student debt.

The Genesee County Career and College Access Network (GC3AN), the community of Lakeville, AdviseMI adviser Jordan Barnes (serving at Bentley and Genesee High Schools) and myself continue to promote the College Cash Campaign and diligently educate Genesee County students and their families about the importance of financial aid and postsecondary education. By hosting a county-wide financial aid workshop, we hope to provide families with the opportunity to file FAFSA, learn about the resources available and provide a space to ask questions about their specific situations. We understand how crucial the financial aid process is for students and how a lack of knowledge can deter them from postsecondary education. For this reason, College Cash Campaign is such an important incentive that has the ability to change lives.