Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau was at Missoula's Big Sky High School Friday morning, September 20, to receive a $50,000 check from the Student Assistance Foundation to Graduation Matters Montana.

"I'm so excited to be at Big Sky High School for this announcement," Juneau said. "Thank you superintendent Alex Apostle for inspiring me to take Graduation Matters statewide, and for your commitment to a 100 percent graduation rate."

Juneau said students all over Montana intend to continue their education after graduating from high school, but many fail to achieve that goal.

"I've traveled all across this state and spoken to thousands of students, and when I ask how many of them want to go to college, nearly every hand goes up," Juneau said. "When we ask students in statewide surveys how many want to go to college, about 84 percent  say 'yes, I'm planning to go.' And, yet, only six in 10 of our graduates actually go on to college, and we can do better."

Juneau acknowledged that Montana college students would compile an average of $24,000 in student debt, and that the Student Assistance Foundation gift will help students get easier access to grants and loans.

"It's exciting for me to announce this $50,000 grant, and our partnership with the Student Assistance Foundation here in Missoula," Juneau said. "Last year, Missoula introduced innovative strategies to help students use in FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) outreach programs. They even utilized  targeted phone banks to encourage students to participate in FAFSA open houses."

There are currently 33 Montana communities with Graduation Matters Montana initiatives.

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau

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