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Colleges encouraging students to apply for financial aid amid pandemic

Counselors say students who might not usually qualify for aid have better chances this year.

AUSTIN, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic kept many college students working remotely over the past year and, as a result, some are choosing to change their plans again for the next school year.

Each year, $2 billion in federal financial aid is left on the table. Those numbers are up even more over the past two years because of the pandemic. 

So, colleges and universities are encouraging students to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms.

“Nationally, since October, those rates have been down substantially,” said Tracy Manier, vice president for enrollment management at St. Edward's University. “At one point, they were down north of 20%. Then it started to look more like, you know, 15% to 70% around December. It's now sitting at -9% in terms of the total number of students across the country who have filed a FAFSA. So, that's a really troubling trend because, as you know, most students out there are going to need some type of aid in order to make college a possibility for this fall.”

Colleges say students have struggled throughout this pandemic to get enrolled, but it is not too late. You can still apply to many colleges and universities, and they encourage you to apply for financial assistance. 

Enrollment counselors say even students who don't typically get awarded money will have a better chance this year.

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