Freshman Year Financial Aid Nudges

While supporting students and their families with initial FAFSA filing during senior year of high school has received substantial attention, there has been comparatively less attention paid to helping students re-file their FAFSA each year they are in college, despite that fact that students need to renew the FAFSA annually to maintain their financial aid.

Yet, recent descriptive work documents that nationally 15 - 20 percent of freshman Pell Grant recipients in good academic standing do not successfully re-file their FAFSA.

We partnered with uAspire to send college freshmen a series of personalized text message reminders about important steps in the FAFSA re-filing process. The intervention cost approximately $5 per student served. This type of intervention may be particularly beneficial for community college students, who are much less likely to refile their FAFSA than freshmen at four-year institutions, spend less time on campus, and have less access to individualized advising and may struggle to navigate bureaucratic processes around financial aid.

The text messaging campaign generated large and positive on the continued college persistence of first-year students at community colleges. Students who were initially enrolled in a community college and who received the text messages were 13.8 percentage points more likely to remain continuously enrolled through the spring of their sophomore year in college as a result of the intervention.

Read the full paper.

Freshman Year Financial Aid