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LANSING, Mich. — Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) and the College & Career Access Center of Jackson (CCAC) have been awarded $150,000 in grants from the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) to improve FAFSA completion and college application rates in Michigan. The funding is possible through the support of the Kresge Foundation’s Education Program.

MCAN received a grant of $50,000, which will be used to provide financial incentives for students to complete the FAFSA. As of April 2, Michigan’s FAFSA completion rate for this year’s seniors was 45.2%, down from 51.1% the same time last year. The Michigan Department of Treasury recently extended the priority deadline for state financial aid to May 1, allowing more time for students who have been affected by the pandemic. MCAN is using the extended deadline to launch Spring Into College, a statewide effort to get graduating seniors to complete the FAFSA and apply to college by the end of April. Part of this grant will be used to fund Dash for Cash, a concentrated push to get students to complete the FAFSA before May 1 by providing additional financial incentives.

“It’s crucial that we improve Michigan’s FAFSA rates, and we’re thankful for partners like NCAN and the Kresge Foundation who are willing to invest in our students,” said Jamie Jacobs, MCAN’s deputy director and director of High School Innovation. “Too many of our students are making decisions about college without knowing the full range of financial aid available. We know that filing the FAFSA can tear down some of the myths around college affordability, and we know that financial incentives that effectively pay students for their time can help encourage them to complete their application.”

Compared to peers who did not complete the form, 90% percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA immediately enroll in postsecondary education programs. Low-income seniors who complete the FAFSA are 127% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education directly after high school.

In addition to Dash for Cash, MCAN’s Spring Into College initiative also includes Spring Application Week, April 19-23, where 70 colleges and universities are offering no application fees. The initiative culminates in Decision Day, where schools across the state celebrate students’ plans to pursue higher education. Spring Into College will be implemented in partnership with the Michigan Department of Treasury, and efforts are anticipated to support 20,000 Michigan seniors.

NCAN also awarded $100,000 in grant funding to the College & Career Access Center of Jackson. This funding will be used to support their College Get it Done, Class of 2020 and 2021! campaign, with a focus on FAFSA and college application completion.

"The College & Career Access Center is honored to have been selected by NCAN for the Kresge Foundation grant,” said Nancy Peters-Lewis, CCAC’s executive director. “We are eager to utilize this support to reengage Jackson County’s 2020 and 2021 graduates in their college and career plans. We are keenly aware of the hardships that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed to these cohorts of students and are thankful for this opportunity to further support them and their families in their college and career goals."

Of the 142 submitted proposals, MCAN and CCAC are two of the 23 recipients from across the country who received a total of $1.6 million in funding for efforts enhancing statewide FAFSA completion, postsecondary advising, and matriculation support initiatives.

“NCAN is grateful to the Kresge Foundation for recognizing the urgency of repairing the high school to college pipeline,” said Kim Cook, NCAN’s executive director. “The initiatives that these grantees proposed demonstrate what is possible when schools and districts, college access and success organizations, state departments of education, colleges and universities, philanthropic organizations, and other partners come together to ensure every student can succeed.”