Niles High School reaching higher for college

Any parent who has a student in college knows how expensive it can be. Just the application process alone can become costly.

Niles High School is at work to make sure financial barriers do not keep their graduates from pursuing a college degree.

The high school has already been able to help income-qualifying students get fees waived for applications and standardized tests. Now they have new grant money that will allow them to provide incentives to other students and help them get their foot into the door when it comes to colleges.

It is a $5,000 Reach Higher grant provided by the Michigan College Access Network to help fund state initiatives to prepare students for post-secondary education.

Niles High School College and Career Counselor Josie Dejong said this will be really helpful in planning for college.

"It’s really exciting because I’m used to working on a next to nothing budget. Trying to come up with incentives for free for students can be difficult sometimes. Going from almost no money to $5,000, I feel like I’ve won the lottery,” Dejong said.

She said the money will be used in a variety of ways.

“The purpose of the money is to help students be able to reach post-secondary education level. Part of it is just to promote post-secondary options after high school, whether that’s a certificate program, or two-year program, a four-year program,” she added.

Students will be able to be rewarded for taking the first step into post-secondary education.

“A lot of the money can be used to pump students up by giving like little giveaways and that kind of thing to encourage them to take college visits and fill out college applications," said Dejong.

With the grant money, she said they will be able to plan more college tour days.

“We can use the money to do visits to different college campuses so we’re hoping to do more of that this year.”

Next year, the school can apply for the same grant.

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