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financial aid

people in graduation caps and gowns
Will Folsom / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Nationwide, each school guidance counselor is responsible, on average, for about 500 students. Their job includes providing students with academic skills support and helping with goal setting and academic and career plans.

And the help students receive can have a major impact on their lives even after high school graduation, according to a recent analysis by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Researchers analyzed data from a longitudinal study that follows 23,000 students who started 9th grade in 2009.

user John Patrick Robichaud / flickr

We've said it before, but it bears repeating: filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, or the FAFSA, can be a pain in the butt. But at this point, there's no way around it. If you're hoping to get some federal grants or financial aid to help offset the costs of college, then you're going to have to fill it out.

As my colleague Dustin Dwyer noted in a story he did earlier this year, even the U.S. Department of Education acknowledges there are serious problems with our country's financial aid system.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

It’s a frigid Thursday morning in Jonesville, a small town southwest of Jackson. Bob Drake is trying his best not to make a mistake.

"It has to be exact from what you put on your taxes," Drake explains. 

Drake is a counselor at Jonesville High School. He’s helping a parent, Joy Sutton, fill out her son’s FAFSA.

"Yeah, it’s kind of finicky," Drake continues.

How Michigan is stopping adults from going back to college

Feb 12, 2015
Brock Boland / Flickr

We know that if you want to make a livable wage in Michigan, you’ll need a college degree -- no matter what your age.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Here is a fact you might not know: In the decade between 2003 to 2013, no other state cut its spending on college scholarships as much as Michigan. Only six states had cuts at all. But Michigan cut the most. And it wasn’t even close.

The state-by-state comparison comes from a little-noticed annual report released by the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs.

But the reason behind Michigan’s cut is well-known. 

Michigan last in Midwest in per-student college aid

Nov 20, 2012
scott2342 / flickr

There's been a huge push by the Snyder administration to push high-schools to get all their high-schoolers "college ready."

Families bank accounts are less college ready. And according to a new report the state is cutting back on funds available to help kids pay for college costs, costs that just keep going up and up.

This belt-tightening isn't happening everywhere. In fact, Michigan is almost the stingiest state in the Midwest with college aid. (If it makes you feel better, it comes in second to Ohio.)

Here are some other highlights, if you can call them that, from the report. It says that over the last decade Michigan lawmakers have:

  • Cut need-based grants by 20 percent while other states increased their need-based grants.
  • Invested the least in grant dollars per student in the Midwest.
  • Offered grants to only 14 percent of students
  • Gave a large share of need-based grants to students from higher-income families attending private colleges.

And the takeaway? Michigan is now investing the least in college per-student and per-person in the Midwest. Hopefully high-school math classes are including problems about interest rates on college loans as part of that college ready curriculum.