Niles High School recognized for outstanding 2020 FAFSA completion rates

NILES — Niles High School is one of 13 Michigan schools recognized by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan College Access Network for producing outstanding Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion rates by March 1.

The College Cash Campaign, a FAFSA completion initiative from the Michigan College Access Network, ran from Nov. 1 through March 1. During that time, 49,128 FAFSAs were filed by 2020 graduating seniors in nearly 400 participating Michigan high schools.

As of April 15, the state FAFSA completion rate was 49.1 percent, up nearly one percentage point from this same time in 2019. Filing the FAFSA is considered a leading indicator of whether students will pursue college. According to the National College Attainment Network, 90 percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA attend college directly from high school, compared to 50 percent of non-completers.

The three high schools with the largest annual growth in FAFSA completions in Michigan each received a $10,000 cash award for their outstanding efforts. Among those schools was Niles High School, with a 26 percent increase, Central Academy in Ann Arbor, with a 44 percent increase, and Hazel Park High School, with a 23 percent increase.

In addition, those schools will receive a visit from the governor or lieutenant governor in the fall.

“I want to congratulate all of the schools that exceeded their FAFSA completion goal and every student who filled out their form,” Gov. Whitmer said. “Every student deserves a path to a quality, affordable postsecondary education, and filling out FAFSA forms can make an enormous difference for families across the state. I also want to thank MCAN for their partnership. I look forward to working with them as we ensure students across the state have access to a postsecondary education.”

An additional 10 schools were recognized for the highest completion rate in their region. The top school in 10 geographic regions in Michigan are:

  • Pickford High School
  • Johannesburg-Lewiston High School
  • St. Patrick Catholic School
  • All Saints Central High School
  • Harbor Beach Community High School
  • J.W. Sexton High School
  • Bridgman High School
  • Summerfield High School
  • University High
  • Frontier International Academy

In December 2019, Gov. Whitmer announced the statewide FAFSA Challenge​ ​to increase the number of students completing the FAFSA and scholarship applications. The challenge included partnerships with the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, State of Michigan Student Scholarships and Grants, Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“We are proud of the 40 high schools that exceeded the 75% FAFSA completion goal months ahead of schedule,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, executive director of MCAN. “We encourage schools to use this momentum to continue to achieve and exceed this goal. College can be affordable when students take advantage of federal Pell grants, state aid and institutional aid — most of which require filing the FAFSA.”

The FAFSA is a free application for students to access federal and state financial aid. It’s used by the federal government, the state of Michigan and colleges to determine eligibility for grants, scholarships and loans. The form determines the amount of money a family is expected to contribute to the price of attending a postsecondary institution.

Michigan’s final official FAFSA completion rate for the Class of 2020 will be calculated based on FAFSAs filed through June 30. An additional 28,342 high school seniors need to complete their FAFSA by June 30 for Michigan to reach the goal of 75 percent. As of April 3, the state of Michigan was ranked 17th in the nation for FAFSA completions.  FAFSA applications should be filed at fafsa.gov.