Press Release/Statement | September 8, 2023

TICAS Applauds the Introduction of Senate Bill 463, FAFSA Completion Policy

Author: Statement of Onjila Odeneal

TICAS applauds Senator Darrin Camilleri, his staff, and supporting legislators for prioritizing the needs of students and families in Michigan by introducing Senate Bill 463, FAFSA Completion Policy. This bill will ensure that students are better positioned to know and access available federal, state, and institutional financial resources to help pay for their postsecondary education leading to better livelihoods. Specifically, the bill will require students to complete a FAFSA application or a FAFSA opt out form for high school graduation. It also requires high schools to have required postsecondary exposure engagement with every student before they graduate.

Leading up to introducing this bill, we thank Senator Camilleri for:

  • Engaging a range of stakeholders that would be impacted by the bill to ensure their concerns were heard and reflected in the final bill.
  • Centering the need to remove barriers and increase equity for students facing a very complex but vital process to obtain help in paying for postsecondary programs.
  • Understanding the importance of the supports and resources that would be needed by administering entities, in order to be effective and successful at execution.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary application that determines access to federal, state, and institutional financial aid. This aid may be used towards degrees and certificates at community colleges, public and private four-year institutions, and for approved skilled trade programs. Financial aid helps reduce students’ out-of-pocket costs while earning a credential, which can in turn, boost job eligibility, increase lifetime earnings, and accelerate the economic health and sustainability of communities. When students fail to complete the FAFSA, they are less likely to enroll or complete a credential, and they leave tens of millions of dollars of federal resources for Michiganders on the table.

Making FAFSA completion a graduation requirement is effective because it brings every student to the professionals at their high school before they graduate to, at minimum, have a conversation about their options, available resources and how to access them, and support with completing the FAFSA application, if needed. To address concerns about potential unintended consequences from linking FAFSA completion to high school graduation, this bill provides an easy to navigate opt-out option for any student and family that does not feel completing the application is in their best interest. As a higher education policy professional that has also worked in financial aid, student and parent postsecondary advising, and strategy development with school administrators and personnel on enhancing student supports, this bill is sorely needed and pivotal in the needs of Michigan’s students. Far too many students count themselves out due to misinformation and misguided messages that they are incapable or that there are no viable or affordable options for them beyond high school.

The FAFSA Completion Policy will build on the recent investments and ongoing work that the governor and legislature have been doing to better position students to navigate and afford getting to and through their postsecondary credential of choice. The long-time status quo of steering students in the direction that has been deemed ‘most suitable for them,’ especially among the most vulnerable student populations, is not working for our students or our state. Better educating students and families about all their options, aligning and simplifying available resources, and providing them the support necessary to be successful along the way to completion will build the agency and ability of all Michiganders to take control of their educations and their futures, and help them drive a thriving workforce and economy.

There is still much work to be done but we look forward to continuing to champion the centering of Michigan students and families’ needs in higher education while removing unnecessary barriers and complexities along the way.

To learn more about TICAS (MI) insight on FAFSA completion, check out our FAFSA memo here.