Milwaukee FAFSA rates increase, reversing pandemic trend

MILWAUKEE _ More Milwaukee Public Schools students are filling out a key form that unlocks opportunities to access grants, scholarships, loans and other types of aid to help pay for college.

The number of MPS students in the Class of 2022 who filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is up about 8% compared to the same period last year for the Class of 2021. Nationally, the number of students filling out the FAFSA is up 4%, according to the National College Attainment Network.

The M³ partnership is proud of the extensive outreach efforts undertaken over the past year that we believe contributed to this promising trend. M³ (pronounced “M-Cubed”) is comprised of Milwaukee’s three largest public education institutions: MPS, Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Experts from all three M³ institutions are available to speak with media interested in learning more about the FAFSA, why rates have increased, M³ efforts and steps that graduating high school seniors and their families can take to help pay for higher education. Please contact Genaro Armas at if you would like to schedule an interview.

More information

The increase reverses the decline in FAFSA completion rates during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, mirroring trends in school districts around the country. A 2021 survey by education firm EAB found, in part, that high school students were having more difficulty accessing support networks of college counselors, teachers and coaches during the pandemic.

Students must fill out the FAFSA to apply for federal student aid, such as grants, work-study and loans. There is no charge to fill out the form. Many states and colleges also use FAFSA information to determine eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers use FAFSA information to determine if a student qualifies for their aid.

After seeing completion rates steadily increase before the pandemic, MPS, MATC and UWM worked together to address COVID falloffs. FAFSA completion remains the most critical step to successfully enroll in a postsecondary program, especially for students from families with limited income.

Some M³ efforts this year included:

  • A news conference in October with-then Mayor Tom Barrett to launch the opening of the FAFSA application necessary for students to receive financial aid in Fall 2022.
  • Mini-grants to offer student incentives for FAFSA completion.
  • A peer-led social media campaign.
  • Over 200 FAFSA completion events at MPS high schools.

M³ partners continue to work diligently to increase FAFSA completion and support students through the financial aid process as they prepare for the next step in their education.

There’s still time for those who haven’t yet filled out a 2022-23 FAFSA form. Here are helpful resources:

For general FAFSA information, visit these websites: