RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Every semester, colleges in the valley get thousands of new students enrolling for degrees. But there is also a large number of students who don’t finish their degree plans.

Schools like South Texas College said they are seeing more students “Stop Out” of their degree plan, mostly because of financial hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to RGV FOCUS, only 18 percent of people in the valley have a college degree.

 “Some need to find employment elsewhere and they stop out.” said STC Student Financial Services Director Juan Miguel Galvan. ” “What we are doing is that we are in constant communication with the students. Reaching out to them via text messages, emails, phone calls, postcards to let them know that that they can come back, and we have assistance available.”

Some of that assistance includes giving students $1,700 to enroll in classes at STC, they can use that money to cover the cost of tuition.

Organizations like Educate Texas, the parent company of RGV FOCUS team up with STC and UTRGV to get more students enrolled in college. Chris Coxon, Managing Director of Educate Texas said there are other factors that lead to “Stop Outs.”

“We’re recognizing that for so many both at the two-year institutions and four-year institutions… are working while they are going to school and being able to align work hours when classes are available,” Coxon said.

UTRGV is also seen by many students not finishing their education. According to the university’s Student Success Intuitive office between 20% – 22% of students enroll and drop out after their first year.

But besides re-engaging with those students, there is also work being done in local high schools to get more students enrolled in dual credit programs.

” 58% of the students who graduate then go on to some form of higher education,” Coxon said. ” Well 58% is less than 60 and we have a goal as a State that we want 58% of our adult population to have something.”

And while the valley leads the State in applying for financial aid, Coxon hopes more local employers give students experience. It’s something he believes will bring more people back to school.

“You’re able to lift an entire community and really help you know advance not only our youth but more importantly a community as a whole,” Coxon said.

For more information on STC’s finical assistance click here.