Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statewide challenge to every Michigan high school Monday to increase the state's completion rate for a federal financial aid application.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA, is a form completed by current and prospective college students to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.

Michigan’s 2019 FAFSA completion rate was 55.9% last school year, according to the Michigan College Access Network, which was a decrease of 0.7% from the previous year.

The Michigan College Access Network, which coordinates with schools to encourage support around completing FAFSA and scholarship applications from November through March, is seeking to achieve a statewide FAFSA completion rate of 75% in 2020.

“Every student deserves a path to a quality, affordable post-secondary education, and filling out FAFSA forms can make an enormous difference for families across the state," Whitmer said.

“I just finished helping my daughter fill out her FAFSA application while she applied to colleges," Whitmer said. "It’s simple and can help students everywhere get on a path to a quality post-secondary education."

It is estimated that nearly 25,000 Michigan students eligible for Pell grants did not file the FAFSA last year, leaving nearly $100 million in Pell grant funding unspent, MCAN officials aid.

Every high school in Michigan will be able to monitor their progress using the Michigan FAFSA tracker.

Ryan Fewins-Bliss, MCAN executive director, said perceived affordability is one of the biggest myths students encounter on their journey to furthering their education.

"Applying for financial aid is an important step to helping students navigate the college and financial application process," Fewins-Bliss said. "We appreciate the governor’s recognition of and commitment to making postsecondary education accessible.”

The FAFSA is a free application that is the only way for students to access federal and state financial aid. Many colleges and universities require the FAFSA for institutional and merit-based aid.

For more information go to MCAN's website.

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