Text message-based financial aid nudges

Program basics

  • Provide students with reminders to fill out the annual FAFSA, as well information on FAFSA requirements, important deadlines, and assistance with filling out the FAFSA

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)


Promising (Third-highest tier)

Text message-based financial aid nudges is not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but has demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by ____

Target population

Students enrolled in post-secondary education

Program cost

$5 per student

Implementation locations

  • Not available

Dates active


Outcomes and impact

  • Indeterminate effect on credit accumulation

Keys to successful implementation

  • Partner with organizations that are already providing services and support to students in the target population, such as schools and community-based organizations; nudges can then be incorporated into existing support services.
  • Deploy text messages regularly (between 17-20 texts throughout the program), with countdowns to deadlines, reminders, and links to resources over the course of the 5-month program. Be sure students and their families have enough time to act on any outreach and that early messages focus on trust-building.
  • Give the counselors responsible for sending the text messages flexibility in how and what they communicate – basic reminders, offering to answer questions, and sharing resources can all be successful, but depend on the recipient.
  • Wherever possible, choose counselors (the one sending the text message) with whom the student may already have a trusted relationship or recognize their name and number. This may help reduce student opt out rates and boost engagement.
  • Identify available data sources allowing senders to customize outreach to students, such as where each student is in the financial aid following process.

Similar programs