For the past two years, Launch Manistee has partnered with all six area high schools, Baker College, Northwestern Michigan College (NMC), West Shore Community College (WSCC), Northwest Michigan Works, and a local Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to facilitate a FAFSA completion event held in Manistee County during the middle of February. This year, we held our event on February 18, 2016
Colleges and Universities throughout the state hold these at their respective locations as well and call them “College Goal Sunday”. Launch Manistee decided to do it locally and be more advantageous for our students and families. The event has provided one-on-one assistance with families, students, and financial aid advisers to complete the FAFSA. In 2015, approximately 40 students and families attended the Manistee County event; in 2016, 45 students and families attend.
Why do we do this? This even is needed to enable students in Manistee County to have the financial capacity and awareness to pursue their post secondary goals. Research shows that the 3 largest barriers for students in their pursuit of college and/or other postsecondary training are financial barriers, academic readiness, and other social and navigational difficulties. The Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA) is the key to financial assistance. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is the gateway to most financial aid awards including federal and state grants as well as local, state, national and university and college scholarships. 77% of ALL college financial aid depends on the FAFSA. During the 2013-14 award year, $191.4 BILLION was awarded in FAFSA dependent financial aid. However, U.S. high school graduates left over $2.9 BILLION in free federal grant money on the table last academic year, according to an analysis by an organization called “NerdWallet”. Their mistake? They did NOT complete the FAFSA! Providing the FAFSA completion event as well as additional financial aid resources to Manistee County youth and their families is a needed and important step to give our county students the head start on removing that financial barrier to postsecondary attainment!