Arlington, VA (Oct. 1, 2019) — High school seniors who work one-on-one with a school counselor are nearly seven times more likely to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a key step on the path to college.
Yet across the nation, school counselors in US public schools grapple with caseloads that are nearly double the recommended maximum of 250. And new data compiled by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) show that even wider gaps can appear between districts within the same state.
“On Oct. 1, the release date of the new FAFSA, we take this opportunity to acknowledge the special contributions school counselors make to students’ postsecondary plans,” said Joyce Smith, NACAC CEO. “Unfortunately, as we dig more deeply into student-to-counselor ratios by district, we find that within states there are large disparities between localities that help to perpetuate gaps in the supports needed to make the transition from high school to college.”
The new maps from NACAC can be used to easily identify the areas in each state that are most in need of outreach and support, Smith said. The project is an update and extension of NACAC’s 2018 State-by-State Student-to-Counselor Ratio Report, released in partnership with the American School Counselor Association. That report tracked counselor caseloads over a 10-year period from 2004-05 to 2014-15.
In addition to showing district-level data, NACAC’s latest publication provides an update on counselor caseloads by state. For the 2015-16 academic year, the average number of students per counselor varied substantially across the nation, with the highest caseloads in Arizona (902), Michigan (744), and California (708), and the lowest in New Hampshire (217) and Vermont (195).
The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.
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