Skip to main content

FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant

People seated around a laptop showing the Federal Financial Aid website.

FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant

FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant

Section 67f of Public Act 103 of 2023 (the State School Aid Act) authorizes funding for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion Challenge Grant. In collaboration with the Department of Treasury and the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is implementing the FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant to encourage districts to support students in completing the FAFSA form as part of planning for students’ post-secondary education. Review below for district eligibility and application details.

District Eligibility

Districts are eligible if each high school from the district has a data use agreement on file with the Department of Treasury naming at least one data receiver designee to access student-level data regarding FAFSA completion.

MI FAFSA Data houses data use agreement status and FAFSA completion information. Please note that the current data is for academic year 2023-24.

Grant Allocation

Individual district awards will be determined by multiplying an amount not to exceed $50.00 by the number of students enrolled and attending grade 12 in the district. The Spring 2023 count for Grade 11 students was used to calculate the maximum allocation.


Districts can apply for FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant funds through GEMS/MARS. Eligible districts that apply for grant funds must assure that they will use these funds to participate in and implement strategies and activities known to drive FAFSA completion rates as listed below. The deadline to apply is October 6th, 2023.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties with the application, please contact the GEMS/MARS help desk at  

Questions regarding the FAFSA Completion Grant should be directed to Alexis Han at or Bill Witt at

FAFSA Completion Strategies

Data indicates that a senior who completes the FAFSA is 84% more likely to enroll in postsecondary education, and 90% of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA immediately enroll in postsecondary education programs. The State of Michigan is providing financial incentives to support schools as they prioritize FAFSA completion. Now, more than ever, it is critical that schools and districts create FAFSA completion goals and monitor them regularly, build shared ownership, establish partnerships, and spread awareness. The Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) has put together the following strategies and activities known to drive FAFSA completion rates.

  • Action Plan/Data Review

  • One-on-one Meetings

    • Use data to schedule 1:1 meetings (virtual or in-person) with families and students who have not yet submitted their FAFSA.
    • Track interactions using an action plan or data-tracking system.

    Parent Communication and Engagement

    • Provide families with a checklist/timeline of postsecondary planning expectations beginning in 11th grade.
    • Provide individualized communication to families and students.
      • Provide support in target home languages.
    • Offer after-hours and virtual FAFSA completion support for families and students.
    • Include communications, materials, and support at all school events (arts, athletics, curriculum nights)
    • Incorporate the Michigan Achievement Scholarship and other state and local aid information into FAFSA discussions.
  • Dedicated Support

    • Support FAFSA champions: school staff designated to lead FAFSA completion efforts.
    • Hire a dedicated FAFSA/postsecondary transition support person or FAFSA champion.
    • Provide stipends to support additional hours for after-school/weekend events or meetings.
    • Provide opportunities for athletic coaches, teachers, and additional staff to support/follow up with students and families for consistent messaging by trusted adults across the community.
  • Shared Ownership

    • Participate in College Bound Michigan and engage in the College Cash Campaign — providing dedicated time during the school day to push into classes or pull-out students for FSA ID creation and FAFSA filing support.
    • Ensure that all professionals have adequate training on supporting FAFSA completion.
    • Adopt a senior exit/graduation checklist inclusive of FAFSA completion and send updated status reports to students and families.
    • Create a universal FAFSA policy. A universal FAFSA policy would make it a requirement that all graduating seniors need to complete the FAFSA. Having a FAFSA on file puts the choice in students’ hands on their next steps instead of the FAFSA being a barrier to enrolling in postsecondary education.
  • Support from Postsecondary Education Partners

    • Connect with regional higher education representatives to support local high school counselors, individual students, and families.
    • Invite college representatives to the high school for transition planning, inclusive of FAFSA filing support.
    • Incorporate FAFSA completion support in summer melt and transition support programming.

    Community Ambassadors, Local College Access Networks, and Community Organizations

    • Leverage community partners to support FAFSA completion efforts.
    • Provide community organizations with materials to post throughout the community.

FAFSA Completion Resources for Special Population Students

Students identified with Special Populations may have additional considerations in applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As a reminder, a student’s identification or eligibility for Special Populations’ programming is protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and may only be shared in accordance with this law. School culture and climate may be negatively impacted for students if this information is shared. As a reminder, not all students may be eligible or have the support necessary to apply for the FAFSA.