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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan College Month kicks off Oct. 1, with over 325 high schools participating in events statewide. Michigan College Month is part of a larger, national initiative that encourages every graduating senior to submit at least one college application and complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of October.

This is the fourth annual Michigan College Month, as declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her predecessor. High schools across Michigan will host college application and financial aid campaigns throughout the month. These efforts are supported by College Bound Michigan (CBMI), a key initiative of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN).

“The mission of College Bound Michigan has never been more important,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director. “It’s hard to apply to and attend college, even in the best conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new challenges to both schools and families. CBMI is working with high schools and counselors to ensure students have the resources they need to successfully navigate this transition.”

During the 2019 campaign, over 70,000 college applications were submitted by more than 45,000 high school seniors who participated in Michigan College Month events.

“Since we kicked off our efforts in 2011, we have seen a consistent increase the number of students pursuing postsecondary education,” Fewins-Bliss said. “We will continue to grow our efforts to provide an educated and sustainable workforce for Michigan and to make a difference in the lives of Michigan’s students.”

Michigan College Month supports students as they solidify their college-going plans and submit college applications. CBMI then transitions into the College Cash Campaign and the Governor’s FAFSA Challenge, which encourage students to complete the FAFSA and help them secure scholarships, grants and additional aid opportunities. Finally, the focus of CBMI moves to Decision Day in May, a time to celebrate students and their postsecondary education plans.

“Michigan College Month is just the start of a year-round effort,” Fewins-Bliss said. “When all the components of College Bound Michigan work together, students succeed. And when that happens, Michigan succeeds. According to State of Michigan projections, 40 of the 50 fastest growing job markets require a postsecondary education. We are committed to doing our part to make sure Michigan is ready.”

Hundreds of schools throughout the state have signed up to be Michigan College Month host sites, with activities to guide high school seniors through completing a college application or applying for financial aid. Many Michigan colleges will also collaborate with high schools to waive application fees or other financial barriers that may hold students back from pursuing education beyond high school.

Resources and materials will be provided to school counselors and educators by MCAN to guarantee schools are fully prepared to assist students over the coming months. In addition, schools will be dedicating classroom time to isolating the different parts of the application process so seniors have a clear, step-by-step understanding of how to determine what schools fit their individual needs.

This year, the timing of Michigan College Month aligns with Governor Whitmer’s recently launched Futures for Frontliners program, a state scholarship program which provides tuition-free access to local community colleges to Michiganders without college degrees who worked in essential industries during the state COVID-19 shutdown.

“Navigating the college-going process can feel intimidating, especially for students who would be the first in their families to attend college,” Fewins-Bliss said. “We want every high school senior to believe they are college material by supporting them as they weigh their options.”