March has been our luckiest month so far! Following national FAFSA completion month in February, Michigan has been debating how to best increase student contact with counselors and boost FAFSA completion. Let’s review these recent updates in policy so we’re ready to fully engage as budget season rolls on.
Student to Counselor Ratios
Counselors are critical leaders in education. They help students to manage their mental health, plan their futures, and ensure they have the support they need to be successful. Michigan has the second worst student to counselor ratio in the nation at 671 to 1. To address this, the legislature has introduced HB4081, a bill that would mandate every school in Michigan have a student to counselor ratio of 250 to 1, the ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association. But will this mandate help reduce the shortage of counselors and get students the help they need to be successful?
Prior to the pandemic, funding deficits had been a major barrier to attracting and maintaining counseling talent in Michigan schools. Like other professions, including teaching, counseling is suffering from low interest and high turnover rates. Many education professionals report that despite having the funding to hire new talent, not enough people are applying for the positions.
The lack of counselors has spillover effects in other areas of concern, including FAFSA completion.
State FAFSA Completion
According to MCAN’s FAFSA completion tracker, Michigan’s FAFSA completion rate is at only 35.2 percent compared to 37.8 percent the same time last year. This decline is especially concerning as it adds to previous declines over several years. Studies show that students who do not complete the FAFSA leave tens of millions of dollars in financial aid resources unused, are less likely to enroll, and are less likely to complete a postsecondary credential. Less than half of the Class of 2022 completed a FAFSA by July of last year leaving over $93 million in available Pell Grant funds on the table.
To combat declining FAFSA completion states can consider adopting FAFSA completion policies. So far eight states have adopted completion policies, with six of them making it a high school graduation requirement. All the states that have had FAFSA completion policies in place for at least one year saw increased FAFSA completion rates within the first year of implementation.
What would happen if Michigan adopted a FAFSA completion policy? What are the nuts and bolts of the other state policies? Read our latest publication “Boosting Michigan FAFSA Completion with a Statewide Mandate” to answer these questions.
March is the time to make your own luck by meeting with legislators and getting your priorities in the House and/or Senate budgets. To do this, make sure you:
- Review the Governor’s State of the State address and budget proposal. Celebrate the investments that support your priorities and identify opportunities to strengthen and improve them.
- Uplift these wins and opportunities in a social media post, fact sheet, or coalition letter!
- Use these documents to highlight your priorities in meetings with legislators.
- Set up conversations with members of the House and Senate to discuss potential investments in your policy priorities.
- Try to align your conversation with the legislator’s personal priorities for the year.
- Be sure to follow up the post-meeting with any additional information!
- It might be helpful to track who acts particularly interested in your priorities.
- Attend MCAN’s Annual Advocacy Day on March 21! This is a great opportunity to meet other community members whose priorities align with yours.
- For more information on MCAN’s advocacy day, please check out this page.
- Get ready for the release of the House and Senate Budgets in April.
As we prepare for a new fiscal year, the TICAS Michigan team wants to be sure to keep you informed on what’s on the horizon related to higher education and financial aid policy. If there is any item listed above that you’d like to learn more about or be more closely involved in, please reach out to our team by email (email@example.com) or by scheduling a meeting here.
Please send any resources, events, or other materials that you would like us to share in our newsletters to Manon Steel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Partner Highlights
Michigan Kids Deserve Housing, Environmental and Education Justice, Michigan League for Public Policy- This brief reviews how the lack of access to affordable housing can impact students from low-income families academic success. In this brief, MLPP suggests that state-level protections for families with Housing Choice Vouchers could promote access to safe housing, in resource-abundant spaces.
TICAS Michigan Resources
This month TICAS is not only focused on issues like student to counselor ratios and FAFSA completion, but the reasons why students should pursue higher education in the first place. While we often highlight the well-documented economic benefits of a postsecondary degree or credential, we believe it is critical to highlight the inherent value of education as a journey of development. Read how we are “Growing Beyond Economic Returns” here!
Contribute to our next community blog! Thank you to everyone who contributed to our last community blog on how to best connect students with resources for their success. We learned that the community recommends leveraging trustworthy adults, well-targeted contact, and meeting students where they are to best connect students to necessary resources. You can read the blog here!
Inspired by our ongoing conversations with our partners about policy and the policy process, this time we will be discussing: “How can we better include community in the policymaking process?” You can submit your responses by June 2 here.
Partner Events and Resources
- Wayne State to Offer Free Tuition to Students whose Families make Under $70,000 annually (The Detroit Free Press)
- 2 Michigan Universities have the Best Band for your Buck, says Princeton Review (MLive)
- Michigan Senate Votes to Repeal ‘Right-to-Work,’ Restore Prevailing Wage (Crain’s Detroit)
- Stateside Podcast: The Closing of Finlandia (Michigan Radio)
- State Education Trends for 2023 (National Governors Association)
- Michigan’s 4-year graduation rate up, but so is the dropout rate (Bridge MI)
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Visits Kellogg Community College, Discusses Low Costs for College (News Channel 3)
- More Education Funding is a Good Start to Boost Michigan’s Economic Competitiveness (Detroit Regional Chamber)
- Look Out For
- MACAE Advocacy Day
- Grand Rapids Promise Zone: FAFSA Completion Workshop – Thursday, April 13, 5:00 – 7:00
- Mondays with MASP: Family Engagement – Monday, April 10
- Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators: Women in Leadership Conference 2023 – Thursday, April 13 – Friday, April 14
- Fostering Futures Grand Rapids Fundraising Dinner – Friday, April 14, 5:30 – 9:30, please contact Robin Lott for more information (email@example.com)
- Michigan’s Children 2023 Inaugural Michele Corey Child Advocacy Summit – Thursday, April 27
New Partners, Welcome!
Partnership is a great opportunity not only for the purpose of collaboration and alignment of shared interest, but it also allows our team at TICAS to learn how we can best advocate for the needs of Michigan students and families in policy by learning from community partners.
Please join us in uplifting community partner organizations impacting students on their postsecondary journeys across the state.
- Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators
- Michigan Association of School Boards
- Michigan Alliance for Student Opportunity
If you are interested in sharing with us how we could best support your community and partners alike in policy, please use and share the form below on “How to Get Involved”. This form is not a commitment form but rather an opportunity for us to learn more about the needs in supporting Michigan communities in higher education policy and resources needed.