My name is Renee Pickard and I work as a Talent Specialist for Michigan Works West Central. We assist employers and job seekers in Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola counties. We are one of 16 Michigan Works! agencies across the state, each of which is locally responsive and demand driven. We exist to assist employers in finding and retaining qualified employees and assure that the local talent pool meets the needs of employers.

In my position, part of my job is to help our clients and customers secure employment that is more fulfilling both professionally and financially. This is usually accomplished through school, training and with support and guidance from our staff.

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) training organized by the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this training was conducted virtually and I was very impressed! The training was very interactive and every step of the application process was covered.

During the training, we were placed in different scenarios that were a part of the financial aid application process. We learned both the impact and the importance of knowing the best practices for unique situations. Guiding our clients with one wrong answer could impact their postsecondary plans. Postsecondary education is important for everyone.

The FAFSA training covered loans, grants, work study programs and dual enrollment – from who is eligible to what could make someone ineligible. We discussed the Michigan Indian Tuition Waiver as well as other nuanced aspects of the financial aid process.

I think the FAFSA training was presented well and covered all of the topics an applicant could encounter. I eagerly shared this training with other staff members located in our six counties of Michigan Works West Central after receiving it. I highly recommend it for anyone who is in the position to guide someone through the FAFSA application process. This was an excellent training and an absolute must!