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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is offering a total of $50,000 to 5,000 high school seniors for the completion of their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Through the Dash for Cash student incentive program, MCAN is working to improve FAFSA completion rates in Michigan and increase access to financial aid.

“The pandemic has impacted how students and families access financial aid resources, and it is essential for every high school senior – especially low-income students, first-generation college-going students and students of color – to know that it is not too late to submit the FAFSA,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. “The Dash for Cash program provides an added incentive for students to complete the FAFSA, understand what aid is available, and explore their postsecondary opportunities.”

As of April 30, Michigan’s FAFSA completion rate for this year’s seniors was 47.1%, down from 52.6% the same time last year. Across the country, FAFSA completion rates have decreased by 12.4% in high schools with a large proportion of low-income students. In schools with a large proportion of students of color, the completion rate has decreased by 15%. Ninety percent 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 who complete the FAFSA are 127% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education directly after high school.

“As we enter into post-pandemic recovery, it is critical that students have the necessary tools to be successful in tomorrow’s economy,” said Fewins-Bliss. “The needs of our businesses and communities depend on addressing the pinch in the college pipeline caused by COVID-19.”

To complete the FAFSA, students can visit fafsa.ed.gov or download the myStudentAid mobile app. After submission, students receive details about their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and eligibility for federal student loans and Pell Grants. The first 5,000 students in Michigan to complete their FAFSA on or after April 9 will receive a $10 Meijer gift card.

The Dash for Cash program is a partnership with the Michigan Department of Treasury, and funding for gift cards is provided in part by a National College Attainment Network (NCAN) grant supported by the Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. In addition to providing Dash for Cash student incentives, MCAN is also awarding $30,000 to Michigan high schools for FAFSA completion efforts. The winning high schools will be announced in late May.