This page is optimized for a taller screen. Please rotate your device or increase the size of your browser window.

High School Counseling and College Financial Aid

Meghan Shea and Brian Freeman, Abt Global; Catharine Warner-Griffin, AnLar


February 13, 2023

Prepared for the Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), this brief report authored by Abt and AnLar researchers looks at the connection between high school counseling, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion, and college financial aid. Financial aid can play a crucial role in allowing students to pursue college degrees that can support upward mobility. The report findings are derived from the NCES High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09). Abt and AnLar found:

  • Among students who planned to go to college, a higher percentage of those who met with a counselor about financial aid completed a FAFSA (87 percent) compared with those who did not meet with a counselor about financial aid (59 percent).
  • The difference in the number of FAFSA filings by students who met with counselors versus those who did not was greater among students whose parents had a high school diploma than it was among students whose parents earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • About 66 percent of college students who met with a high school counselor received need-based grants, compared with 45 percent of college students who did not meet with a high school counselor. In contrast, there was no measurable difference in merit-based grant receipt by high school counselor meetings about financial aid.