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Advice to help college students struggling financially get back on track

The Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on everyone and changed peoples' day-to-day lives in an instant. College enrollment decreased significantly during the pandemic, with Latinx students hit particularly hard

Many students were faced with the tough decision to drop out of school or take a gap semester or year off. Other students were faced with financial troubles leading them to be unsure as to how they will pay for school. 

But the experts say don't give up! Come up with a plan to go back – and know that there is help available.

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In order to get back on track financially, Yanely Espinal, educational outreach director at Next Gen Personal Finance, suggests finding ways to generate additional income and learn more about what you can do with the money you do have by reading, listening to podcasts or finding resources online.

"Do everything you can to prioritize your education first. If you can balance work and school, then do it but if not then don't be afraid to lean on your community for support," Espinal said. 

More from College Voices:
Latinx college enrollment was rising before Covid but the pandemic has taken a toll
The pandemic prompted some Latinx college students to rethink their plans after graduation
College graduates are struggling to make up for their 'lost year'

Magdalena Hinojosa, senior vice president for strategic enrollment and student affairs, at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, said that if students had to take a semester or year off or had to drop out due to the pandemic, to re-enroll as soon as possible. Hinojosa stressed that these students should talk to a financial aid advisor within their institutions to discuss financial incentives and scholarship opportunities. 

For students whose finances changed due to the pandemic, Espinal suggests filing an appeal within their institutions after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

"Many colleges are looking at financial records from before the pandemic and that is not reflective of your family's current financial situation anymore," Espinal said, adding that students should contact their financial aid office as soon as possible and find out what documents are needed.

Some resources available that students can utilize are the Latino Community Fund, Hispanic Federation, and Casa Latina, as well as seeking organizational support from community partners that get funding from larger foundations or initiatives like Give Together Now

Hinojosa stressed that it's never too late to return to school and that a college education provides opportunities for stability and social mobility.

"A college education is one of the few things that can't be taken away from you," Hinojosa said.   

CNBC's "College Voices″ is a series written by CNBC interns from universities across the country about getting their college education, managing their own money and launching their careers during these extraordinary times. Denisse Quintanilla is a senior at Monmouth University studying Spanish and communications with a concentration in media studies and production. She is currently an intern at CNBC en Español, writing scripts for Informe CNBC, while also translating and producing videos to Spanish for Telemundo. Her mentor is Lisa Villalobos. The series is edited by Cindy Perman.


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