FAFSA filings down at local high schools, COVID-19 creating issues for students, counselors – WREX-TV

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Federal student aid filings, or FAFSA, are down across the state and in our area. The FAFSA filings often indicate how many high school seniors will attend college next year, so are the lower numbers troubling news?

High school counselors and college planners say there is some reason to believe COVID-19 is forcing students to consider alternatives to college.

“We’ve heard that some students are choosing to work to support their families,” Bridget French, the Rockford Public Schools Executive Director of College and Career Readiness, explains.

She, and others, say financial instability, difficulty connecting with students who are remote, and COVID safety concerns are all reasons for a drop in FAFSA filings.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows fewer students are filing for federal financial aid. (To see where your high school stands, open the states in the drop-down and select Illinois. Go through the chart to find your high school.)

In that data, you will see that by March 5, 2020, 114 Freeport High School students submitted their FAFSA documents. On March 5, 2021, that number was 77.

“Obviously this is a different year, but hopefully we’re totally back to normal next year that we can compare apples to apples because right now it’s comparing oranges to apples,” Thedford Jackson, Freeport School District’s College and Career Academy coach, says.

The data shows a similar trend at high schools across the state, and even right here in Rockford.

Last March, Rockford East saw 157 submissions, and at