Nudged Toward Financial Aid

Sending reminders about financial aid improves enrollment.

One problem with financial aid: students don’t always complete necessary forms. But a new study shows that providing students with concrete planning prompts to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) in the U.S. can increase college enrollment by as much as two percentage points. Researchers at the University of Virginia, Harvard University, the University of Pittsburgh, and West Point assessed the impact of a national financial aid nudge campaign that reached 450,000 high school seniors through the Common Application. The study, “Nudging at a National Scale,” determined that actionable prompts that encouraged students to identify a specific day and time to work on the financial aid form resulted in increased college enrollment rates; these were especially effective for first-generation students.

Read the study.

This article originally appeared in BizEd's September/October 2017 print issue. If you have comments or feedback on its contents, please contact us at [email protected].