Using SMS for FAFSA Reminders
Out of the 20.2 million college students attending a U.S university this year about 34% pay for school with federal loans. So, every year between Valentine’s Day and Tax Day, millions of students scramble to complete their FAFSA. However, over a million students each year don’t complete it. This high rate of incomplete form can be traced to 2 different issues.
Issue 1: Forgetfulness
One of the top reasons for students failing to complete their FAFSAs is simple: they forget. Hope is on the horizon for forgetful students (and their parents) when it comes to FAFSA time. Researchers at the University of Virginia did an conducted experiments to see of text reminders can nudge lower-income high school seniors on the path of higher education. The study showed that students who received reminder texts to finish their FAFSAs are 5-8% more likely to enroll in a 2-year university than those who did not receive text reminders.
The study proves hopeful for not just lower income students, but all students of all income levels. Forgetfulness doesn’t apply to the application alone. Remembering to sign the FAFSA is the #7 common FAFSA mistake according to the U.S Department of Education. Maybe, one day, the FAFSA can operate using a SMS gateway campaign by sending out triggered SMS alerts to those who forgetful prospects.
Issue 2: Misinformation
Another large issue for incomplete FAFSAs among students and parents is the lack of information about the process. Many first-time FAFSA families assume that they are ineligible for aid or they are just confused about the process overall. With the integration of SMS alerts, companies like College Board can push out text notifications such as FAQs, helpful website links, or open up a SMS dialog campaign – allowing students to be informed or reply via SMS with general questions from a preset-question list.
With the horrifying rising cost of college, finances prove to be one of the top stresses for college students everywhere. It is easy to forget about applying for FAFSA among all of the studying, campus activities, and socializing that are more pertinent to the daily college experience. Squaring away finances is a top priority and that’s where FAFSA excels. The FAFSA process isn’t perfect but, using SMS for reminders and information could make be the process a lot easier for millions of families to acquire college financial aid.