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College Financial Aid Applications Are Down 10% Among High School Seniors

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(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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With less than a week before the March 2 priority deadline, only around one-third of California high school seniors have completed an application for a Cal Grant, according to the California Student Aid Commission. That's a 10% decline compared to this time last year.

High school counselors and groups like GEAR UP 4 LA are working overtime to try to keep students on track for college. Applying for financial aid is a crucial step.

"This is our kids' future. We know that if they don't secure financial aid, they're less likely to attend [college]. We know that if they don't go to college right now, the chances of them going later decreases," said Janicia Centeno-Castillo, assistant director of GEAR UP 4 LA.

Centeno-Castillo and others who work with high schoolers say the pandemic's forced isolation has taken a toll on students' motivation and their ability to look beyond daily survival. Some are also skeptical of whether they'll be able to study on campus next year.

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"The kids feel a little strung along. We can say, 'hey look, it's looking better,' but at the end of the day, there's so much doubt right now, and a lot of fear," Centeno-Castillo said.

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