Text message-based financial aid nudges

Program overview

  • 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
Target Population
Students enrolled in post-secondary education
Cost per Participant
$5 per student

Evidence and impacts


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 ____

  • Indeterminate effect on credit accumulation

Best practices in 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.