Gov. Whitmer Statewide FASFA Challenge should be a call-to-action beyond percentile numbers

Every year, millions of high school seniors around the U.S. arm themselves with college essays, applications, and recommendation letters to prepare themselves for college. Whether it’s school teachers or overzealous parents, it can be a challenging time for a teenager whose about to be thrust into the real world. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to encourage students toward the completion of college materials by introducing the “Governor’s FASFA Challenge.”
 
Gov. Whitmer wants to challenge high schools in Michigan to increase their FASFA completion rate in the year 2020. The Michigan College Access Network (in conjunction with the Michigan College Cash Campaign) aims to have a FASFA completion rate of 75 percent in 2020, which would be an improvement from last year’s rate of 55.9 percent.
“Every student deserves a path to a quality, affordable postsecondary education, and filling out FASFA forms can make an enormous difference for families across the state,” Gov. Whitmer stated. “I just finished helping my daughter fill out her FASFA application while she applied to colleges. It’s simple and can help students everywhere get on a path to a quality postsecondary education. I’m excited to partner with MCAN as they work to spread the word about FASFA and hope high schools everywhere will accept the challenge and aim for a 75 percent rate.”
 
Three winning high schools will have the chance to have Gov. Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II and other Michigan celebrities as speakers at their Decision Day or graduation commencement ceremony. Additionally, ten high school winners will be granted the opportunity for a group of high school seniors to meet Gov. Whitmer and visit the Capitol.
 
As a recent college graduate (Eastern Michigan University), I was excited but concerned about the Governor’s FASFA Challenge.
 
On one hand, completing this challenge will allow high school students to have ample funding for their post-secondary education. This also benefits school districts and communities alike. But on the other hand, I don’t think there’s enough conversation surrounding how these government-binding documents will affect students (primarily black students) if not used correctly.
 
We need to educate our youth in the City of Detroit on how to fill these forms out. Some parents and elders in the community have never filled out a FASFA application, which is why assistance is necessary. Beyond that, financial aid advisors need to breakdown the cost of attending college to incoming freshmen students. Far too often, black students end up graduating with high student account bills due to a lack of knowledge and resources. Statistically, we’re taught to borrow now, and think later in college, not realizing that jobs in today’s market are either downsizing, relocating overseas, or being completely revamped by way of AI (Artificial Intelligence). As a result, salaries and wages are being directly impacted which is why the college debt ceiling currently sits at $1.5 trillion. People can’t borrow their way out of debt, just like high school seniors can’t rush through filling out their FASFA.
 
Skylar Crystal, a graduating senior at Thurston High School says that she looks to her mother and older sibling to help sift her through the extended documents on FASFA.gov.
 
“A lot of the documents are pretty lengthy, so my mom and older brothers help me decide on certain questions and responses,” Crystal said.
 
The FASFA is a free application that helps millions of students every fiscal year. Along with the FASFA, the Pell Grant also allows for affordable education for students. But, we must educate our students on this process, rather than solely push for cushion-like numbers to meet specific quotas and agendas. For more information, please visit micollegeaccess.org.

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