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Big Rapids Daily News

MiLEAP celebrates school counselors for their key role in unlocking more educational opportunities for students

In celebration of National School Counseling Week, the Michigan Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP) encourages all Michiganders to honor the unique contributions school counselors make in helping students achieve educational success — especially their work helping students explore career pathways, pursue a skill certificate or degree and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

In recognition of the national commemoration, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed Feb. 5-9, 2024, as School Counseling Week in Michigan.

“Every student deserves to be surrounded by trusted adults who are helping them thrive today and plan their future. Thank you to each and every school counselor across our state who has committed their careers to creating a brighter future for kids,” said MiLEAP Acting Director Michelle Richard. “Here at MiLEAP, we are especially grateful for the role school counselors play in helping students plan for the future and making college an affordable option for all students. ”

Completing the new and improved FAFSA is the first step students and families should take right now to receive grants, scholarships and other financial aid that can significantly lower the cost of earning a skills certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree. The new, revised FAFSA now takes most people less than an hour to complete.

In Michigan, FAFSA completion is also the first step to receiving the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, which provides eligible students up to $27,500 for college.

The new scholarship is available to students who earn a diploma, certificate of completion or high school equivalency certificate in 2023 or after. It provides renewable scholarships for up to $8,250 over three years at a community or tribal college, up to $27,500 over five years at a four-year public college or university or up to $20,000 over five years at a private college or university.

The newly created MiLEAP Office of Higher Education administers the Michigan Achievement Scholarship. Richard has made it a priority for her department to increase awareness and overcome the misconception that eligibility is limited to families with lower incomes. She said school counselors often play a pivotal role in spreading that message and facilitating FAFSA completion.

“We appreciate the hard work of Michigan’s school counselors as they strive to ensure all students complete the FASFA to unlock the financial opportunities they need to achieve their educational dreams,” Richard said. “When it comes to educational and career planning, school counselors are an important source of information and partner for students and families.”

National School Counseling Week is sponsored by the American School Counselor Association. There are an estimated 7,000 school counselors in Michigan.

Students and families can complete the FAFSA by visiting

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