ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri high schools and universities are working to ensure students' college plans remain on course.

An estimated 200,000 students nationally experience "summer melt," a term that means they're derailed before even arriving to college, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .

Low-income and first-generation students disproportionately experience summer melt, according to University of Pittsburgh professor Lindsay Page, who has studied the phenomenon for a decade.

St. Louis Public Schools operated a summer college and career center to help students with transcripts and financial aid issues. The center helped more than 185 students over the phone and 46 people in person, said Beth Bender, associate superintendent of college and career readiness.

The University of Missouri experiences summer melt, though it's difficult to gauge its overall impact on campus, said Christian Basi, the University of Missouri System's director of media relations.

"We do have students that have made the deposit, got past the deadline and don't enroll," Basi said. "We have them, but we're picking up more students than we're losing over the summer."

The University of Missouri holds a two-day campus visit for students and parents. The event helps students get enrolled in classes and gives them tips on adjusting to campus life.

Washington University in St. Louis typically has a 5 percent melt rate, said Ronne P. Turner, the university's vice provost for admission and financial aid.

"A lot of that is kids deferring for a year and doing something else for a year, not taking class but experiences," Turner said.

Washington University created the Deneb Sustaining Talented Academically Recognized Students program three years ago to help students transition into college.

"We realized we needed to do more to support the transition," Turner said. "For those kids that committed, we committed to work with them to overcome some of those barriers."

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com