As the cost of college continues to rise, it has become increasingly important for students to apply for financial aid. However, many students are unaware of the benefits of FAFSA. We launched a field experiment with a non-profit organization to explore the impact of text message interventions on FAFSA application rates. 2,236 potential students were randomized into three groups: a control group that focused on reminders for upcoming deadlines, a treatment group that focused on benefits-framed messaging, and a second treatment group that added social proofing and norming. Each group received 8 text messages from late September 2020 to early March 2021. Treatment group two was 87% more likely to make a FAFSA appointment than the control group. We end with policy and practice implications.
Jabbari, Jason; Roll, Stephen; Bufe, Sam; and McKay, Jessica, “‘Take my word for it’: Group Texts and Testimonials Enhance State and Federal Student Aid Applications'” (2021). Social Policy Institute Research. 46.