How A Text Message Could Revolutionize Student Aid

Career College Central summary:

  • Every year, more than a million students don't complete the FAFSA — the main federal student-loan application. One big reason? The form is so complicated that it discourages some people from even trying.
  • Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would scrap the much-maligned Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They'd replace it with a much simpler two-question form that's roughly the size of a postcard. And President Obama has proposed his own initiative to increase FAFSA completion rates by giving high schools information that would allow them to track students who haven't filled it out and encourage them to finish it.
  • Both efforts are designed to get student aid into the hands of those who need it most. Research shows that many of the students who don't fill out the form would be eligible to go to college at a cost of next to nothing if they did. Yet some observers say these approaches ignore a central issue that would ensure that more students complete their paperwork: outreach. And that there could be a simple solution that plays right into the lifestyles of today's students — text messages.
  • Researchers at the University of Virginia recently that sent high school seniors text reminders about steps to finish the FAFSA. They found that those students were 5 to 8 percentage points more likely to enroll into a two-year institution compared with a similar group of high school seniors who did not receive the texts.
  • Likewise, found that when community college freshmen received text-message reminders about steps to renew their FAFSA, they were 12 percentage points more likely to persist into sophomore year.

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NPR
 

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