College Planning in High School

Activities and Services

Despite being confronted with daunting student caseloads and a wide range of responsibilities, secondary school counselors provide a variety of “paying for college” services to students. According to survey results, most schools engaged in the following activities.

  • Informational meetings about the FAFSA (90 percent)
  • Assisting with FAFSA completion (74 percent)
  • Computer access for FAFSA completion (74 percent)
  • Reminders of FAFSA deadlines (81 percent)
  • Assistance with other financial aid applications (78 percent)
  • Informational meetings on sources of aid (76 percent)
  • Individual counseling sessions (72 percent)
  • Making information available for students to explore independently (87 percent)

However, the percentage of students who take advantage of many of these services is low. For example, only 31 percent of schools reported that more than half of juniors and seniors participated in information meetings about the FAFSA, and 19 percent of schools reported that more than half took advantage of assistance with completing the FAFSA.

Percentage of Secondary Schools Where More than Half of Juniors and Seniors Took Advantage of Financial Aid Preparation Services
Offering informational meetings about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) process 31.0
Assisting students and families with completing the FAFSA 18.6
Providing computer access for completing the FAFSA 24.0
Assisting with completing financial aid applications other than the FAFSA such as scholarships, loans, or grants 27.0
Offering informational meetings on sources of financial aid such as scholarships, loans, or grants 30.9
Offering individual counseling sessions to help students identify possible sources of financial aid 28.7
Making information about financial aid available for students to explore on their own, such as flyers and pamphlets 45.5

Timing of College Planning Services

Beginning to plan for college early in secondary school (at least by 9th grade) can result in more positive outcomes for students. Unfortunately, at many schools, formal college planning does not begin until grade 11.

Percentage of Secondary Schools Where College Planning Activities Started in Grade 11 or 12
Formal College Planning Services Begin 44.1
Information About Paying for College is First Shared 53.8