WACO, TX — FAFSA enrollment is down by 14% in the state of Texas, compared to last year. Only 24% of Texas seniors have applied for FAFSA as of November 20 according to the National Collegiate Attainment Network FAFSA Tracker.
This is seen as worrisome with local education leaders, because this could mean that many seniors don't know or haven't been getting the right tools to know how to apply.
Communities in Schools Heart of Texas (CIS) is one organization that works with students, helping them graduate and move onto that next step in life.
Senior Site Coordinator at La Vega High School, Anastasia Roberts, says there is a lack of motivation across the board.
"We're spending a lot of time to try and motivate students to do the work," Roberts said.
CIS coordinators still work in person, however, some of their students are in remote learning and this makes it a bit harder to stay on top of their work.
"Typically, I can just pull them from class, any student I want and talk to them about it, just like any other staff here," Roberts said. "Now, it's, I may have to go call mom or dad."
Aaron Mize CEO of CIS says it's easy to blame the pandemic for this issue, but really there are other disparities that have become heightened.
"It's a sign of a larger systemic problem right now, that we just have to be doing everything we can to make sure students have resources," Mize said.
With resources dedicated to food service or otherwise, sometimes things like FAFSA resources may get overlooked. CIS is making sure this doesn't happen.
"Schools who had lower resources to start with, had them stretched even thinner," Mize said.
It's going to take more than just help from CIS Roberts explains, now is the time for everyone to step up and help.
"It's a matter of us reminding students, remind parents making sure we have options for them to come and do stuff on campus or do stuff virtually," Roberts said.
Wanting to keep with the trend, last year CIS case managed 425 High School seniors, with 98% graduating.
CIS works with more than just high school seniors, they provide guidance to students of all grades.
Currently, 99.8% of their 7-12th grade students stayed in school, and 98% of their case managed students were promoted to the next grade.
Everything has changed this year, for reasons many can guess, and Roberts wants to make sure she's there for those students that need help. Especially this year.
"We don't want them to not get in college because they don't know or things look different, and those resources look different this year," Roberts said.
Communities in School Heart of Texas currently focuses on the following districts; Chilton, La Vega, Marlin, Mexia, Midway, Teague, Waco.
FAFSA application can be found here.