College Persistence Rates Increase With Text Nudges

by Paige Altieri | June 4, 2018
College Persistence Rates Increase With Text Nudges

The end of the school year is here and it's a natural time to think about college persistence rates. There are many factors affecting these rates and you want your students to come back to campus in the fall. We have research that will show you how to make that happen.

Texting nudges increase college persistence rates

One tool that we know can increase college persistence rates is text messaging. Benjamin L. Castleman and Lindsay C. Page partnered with Signal Vine to test the impact of a texting intervention on renewing the FAFSA. Students who don't renew their FAFSA each year are more likely to drop out of college. Consequently, this project was designed to test whether nudging students about FAFSA renewal would increase persistence. Since community college students are most affected by financial aid processes, the research focused on these students.

While working with uAspire, the researchers sent text message nudges to college freshmen in Massachusetts. The nudges included information about 1) where to get help with financial aid, 2) important deadlines and requirements, and 3) how to interpret financial aid award letters.

If you're a visual learner like I am, it's helpful to see an example text message:

“Hi Student Name. Need financial help as you return to Awesome College this semester? Call your fin aid office for support at 999-999-9999”

As a result, community college freshmen who received these nudges were 14 percentage points more likely to enroll and stay enrolled in their second year of college. We have seen even similar results across other organizations and institutions. For example, students in Delaware and Texas who received text messages around FAFSA deadlines were more likely to matriculate to college on time. Text message nudges are proving to be the only effective way to communicate with students.

See the full research here. 

How is nudge technology being used in higher education?
How is nudge technology being used in higher education?
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