A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

Avoiding “Summer Melt”

summer melt

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s that time of year. An estimated 20 million students are back on college campuses. But new research shows that a significant percentage of high school seniors who are accepted to college never show up in the fall. Here are details on what’s often called “summer melt,” along with ways parents can support their students as they try to get to college.

In high school, 18-year-old Sydney Klabnik played varsity soccer, was active in clubs, and graduated tenth in her class of 215. The hard work paid off. Last year she was accepted to her dream college, William and Mary, and even put down a deposit.

Klabnik told Ivanhoe, “It was preposterous how much I was going to have to pay and everything that my family had saved was going to be wiped out in less than a year.”

Lindsay Page, EdD, of the University of Pittsburgh, studies college access and success. She and her colleagues studied samples of 6,410 young adults and found that 10 percent of high school seniors from wealthy families and 15 percent from low-income households never made it to college as planned. The biggest reason is money.

“Students may receive their financial aid package and may first struggle to understand what the package is made up of and, second, realize that they may have unmet financial need,” explained Page.

Social scientists say that parents, especially those who did not attend college themselves, should be aware of “summer melt.” Apply early for financial aid. You can start in October of the year before you plan to enroll. Klabnik attended community college free for one year on a full scholarship. She’s now at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania as a sophomore.

“I realized that I was a lot better off than I would have been than if I went to a school that would have completely wiped out my bank account,” said Klabnik.

Professor Page said that parents can identify places to get college prep help over the summer. Finally, help your student double check that all paperwork is completed correctly. Mistakes can slow financial aid awards.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Bob Walko, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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