A few blogs ago, we discussed the benefits of financial aid texting. Often, students feel intimidated by financial aid processes. Opening a two-way dialog with them can help ease their fears. Beyond increasing college persistence rates and FAFSA filing rates, financial aid texting has merit in terms of awareness. This is why texting about various financial aid topics, such as work-study opportunities, can be helpful for students.
Work-study is one of those topics that many incoming students have probably heard of but know very little about. For example, some students believe that if work-study funds appear on their award letter, they have been guaranteed a position. Of course, this isn’t true.
This common myth serves as the tip of the iceberg for why work-study texting works. College staff can use texting to introduce the topic of work-study to students. Then, students can ask questions and inquire about opportunities if they’re interested.
Financial aid staff might consider texting about work-study opportunities as texting can be used to walk students through tasks. This opens up that needed two-way dialog between students and staff, encouraging students to ask questions.
Below are some best practices and general information for work-study texting.
1. Begin texting about work-study opportunities just after sending award letters.
Remind students that seeing work-study funds in their award letters does not secure a position for them. Let them know what other steps to take to claim a work-study position.
Signal Vine pro-tip: This is an excellent time to use an event-triggered message. For example, say you issued a group of students their award letters a week ago. You can schedule a message to target these students a week after their award letters are sent. This event-triggered, automated message will help kick off financial aid discussions about a topic that often confuses students – all with little staff effort.
2. Inform students about payment.
This best practice centers on a common myth among students. Many students believe that the money goes directly toward their tuition or that the money will count against them as earned income when filing the FAFSA. This isn't true. Students who serve as work-studies earn a paycheck that doesn’t count against their financial aid funds when they file the FAFSA. This money comes to them just like a regular paycheck would.
3. Tell students that pay, hours, and job opportunities will vary.
Introduce your school’s policies on work-study jobs so students know about opportunities, pay, and hours.
Signal Vine pro-tip: This is an excellent time to use Signal Vine's Virtual Advisor tool. Use the Virtual Advisor to automate responses regarding pay, available positions, and hours. The Virtual Advisor can spot these student inquiries and respond to them based on a confidence level of its understanding. If it judges the query with high confidence, the Virtual Advisor will respond to students for you.
4. Don’t stop the conversation once students land a work-study position.
Continue to use texting to engage these students. You can ask if they’re benefiting from their position to improve your school's work-study program. Also, you can invite students to ask questions as they have them.
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