Preparing for FAFSA Season

1403048887 budget invetigation - CopyWith the approach of the holidays, we're seeing college application season start to wrap up – but that doesn't mean we're off the hook! The new year brings another application season, this one around financial aid, because January 1 is when students can begin filling out the FAFSA. It is so important that seniors know exactly how to approach this important step. Rallying around college applications is fantastic, but if a student does not know how to pull down the financial resources needed to pay for college, it is likely they won't attend at all.

Although it has gotten easier to file than in previous years, filling out the FAFSA can still be an intimidating process, and trying to determine the best types of financial aid can definitely be confusing for students. Thankfully there are a variety of resources dedicated to helping students navigate this process, and to helping service providers guide their students through the FAFSA application and the larger conversations about financial literacy. To name a few:

  • Wells Fargo has done a series of webinars around this topic, all of which are recorded and available on our website.
  • MI College Goal brings together financial aid experts to guide students and families through every step of completing the FAFSA.
  • The FAFSA4caster helps students estimate their anticipated student aid
  • Khan Academy has an entire series of lessons dedicated to paying for college

College-Cash-Campaign-logo-for-webThese are just some of the available resources, which illustrates the significant need for assistance around FAFSA completion. This is why MCAN is excited to announce a new statewide initiative for 2015: the inaugural College Cash Campaign that will run from February 1 to April 30. The goal of the Michigan College Cash Campaign is to encourage a school-wide rally around FAFSA completion as part of the suite of statewide initiatives that helps students navigate the college-going process during their senior year. We are asking schools who sign up as host sites to commit to three things:

  1. Set a big goal around FAFSA completion and measure and celebrate progress toward this goal in a school-wide FAFSA campaign
  2. Participate in name-by-name FAFSA lookups
  3. Submit a video and application to the First Lady's FAFSA Completion Challenge for an opportunity to host Michelle Obama as their school's commencement speaker

In return for these commitments, MCAN will provide TA and support around the FAFSA form including a 3 hours in-depth FAFSA training provided by national college affordability training experts uAspire on January 29th, 2015 in Lansing, Michigan, access to a variety of resources including a best practices listesrv and name-by-name FAFSA completion data, and mini-grants to schools who perform especially well in their campaigns. For more information or to sign up as a host site visit the College Cash Campaign web page.

We are so excited to see how this campaign plays out in our schools! Some bold goals will be set in the next few weeks but I know from working closely with many of our Michigan high schools that students, staff, and administration will rise to the challenge and tackle the FAFSA head on.

Christ Taylor headshot 2013Author: Christi Taylor, director of statewide initiatives and strategic partnership for the Michigan College Access Network

Posted: December 15, 2014

Michigan College Access Network | 200 N Washington Square, Suite 210, Lansing, MI 48933 (map) | (517) 316-1713 Contact Us | Site Map | Terms and Privacy