M-Cubed partners to highlight importance of filling out FAFSA

Encouraging students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is the focus of the April 14 edition of a virtual event series from M3, the Milwaukee education initiative involving UWM.

Completing the FAFSA form is the critical first step to receiving financial aid, including federal and state grants, federal loans and institutional aid. But nationwide, 100,000 fewer high school seniors completed the FAFSA this past fall compared to 2019, according to the National College Attainment Network.

As of March 26, FAFSA completion for the high school class of 2021 was down 7.6% compared to last academic year. A recent survey by education firm EAB found that students, particularly first-generation and low-income students, don’t understand how the financial aid process can work for them, and often don’t file because they don’t think they will qualify.

The survey also found that high school students were having more difficulty accessing support networks of college counselors, teachers and coaches during the pandemic.

M3 (pronounced M-cubed) is committed to getting more students to fill out the FAFSA. A partnership connecting Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee Area Technical College and UWM, M3 already has helped increase MPS high school graduation rates and increased the number of MPS graduates going directly to college.

In the next edition of the M3 | Education Transformed online discussion series, UWM Chancellor Mark Mone will join his partnership counterparts to discuss the importance of the FAFSA in the college application process. Wednesday’s event will be at 8:45 a.m. via Zoom.

The FAFSA also can be used to help determine eligibility for other types of need-based aid, such as federal CARES grants that have been distributed to help students pay for emergency expenses due to the pandemic.

Leaders will discuss M3 strategies to remind and encourage students to complete the form. They include:

  • In-person FAFSA support: April 12–23 at MPS high schools
  • Virtual support every day at MPS College and Career Center
  • MATC Live! Financial Aid Session
  • Paid MPS, MATC, and UW System advertising to promote FAFSA

Presenters also will offer suggestions for how family members, friends and anyone else in the community can support students accessing higher education and encourage completion of the FAFSA form.

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