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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is partnering with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the second annual Governor’s FAFSA Challenge. The Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) is the only way to unlock most financial aid, including all federal and state financial aid, as well as most institutional and community-based financial aid. This partnership challenges Michigan high schools to increase their FAFSA completion rate among class of 2021 graduates. The completion rate in Michigan for the 2019-20 year was 51.9%, compared to 52.5% in the 2018-2019 year. MCAN’s goal is to increase Michigan’s FAFSA completion rate to 75%.

Gov. Whitmer announced this year’s challenge in a video shared on social media.

“Last year, Michigan left nearly $120 million in federal grant funds untapped. That’s $120 million that could have gone to support Michigan students toward their college degrees,” Whitmer said in the video. “Over half of our seniors are eligible for a Pell grant — free money to attend college. And the only way to access the Pell grant is completing the FAFSA.”

The Governor’s FAFSA Challenge is a key part of MCAN’s College Cash Campaign, which seeks to increase college enrollment by providing resources, support, and incentives to high schools to ensure they are supporting all of their seniors in college affordability planning, including FAFSA completion.

“Perceived affordability is one of the biggest roadblocks preventing students from applying to college. Nearly 75% of Michigan families believe it is not affordable to pursue a college education.” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. “Applying for financial aid is an important step to helping students overcome this misconception and understand their postsecondary options. We appreciate the governor’s recognition of and commitment to making college accessible.”

More information on the Governor’s FAFSA Challenge and the College Cash Campaign, are available at micollegeaccess.org/initiatives/cbmi/cash