Nudging Trends That Will Help Your Students Plan for Paying for College


Austin Community College

This webinar features our collection of text examples and best practices for communicating across financial aid, originally published in Nudging Students Through the Academic Life Cycle ebook. We were joined by Karen Serna, Director, Student Money Management Office from Austin Community College.  Karen discusses how their team helps their students plan for paying for college.

Help Your Students Plan for Paying for College

In December of 2016, the Student Money Management team at ACC launched a texting pilot with Signal Vine. Their main goal is to help students better budget their money throughout the semester. Staff use Signal Vine’s text messaging platform to send targeted text messages to First-Time-in-College students. First-Time-in-College students are asked for their contact information at new student information sessions, where they are also asked to opt into the texting program. The program consists of reminders about important financial aid deadlines, information about upcoming workshops, and tips for managing personal finances.

The Office’s Director, Karen Serna, is responsible for creating the message schedule for the semester. Staff feedback is an important driver of the content for the program’s weekly text message. Additionally, content for the messages is developed by asking staff what they wish students knew and what questions they hear from students over and over again.

Long term, the office is looking to measure retention rates and ultimately college completion rates among students who receive texts versus those who do not. In a recent report conducted in the summer of 2018, ACC found that first-time students who were a part of the texting intervention were 13 percentage points more likely to enroll in the fall of their sophomore year than students who were not a part of the texting intervention.

Watch the webinar to hear from Karen first hand on the impact of texting.  Additionally, she will discuss more findings which include part-time students who received texts from ACC who were 15 percentage points more likely to persist than other part-time students who did not receive texts.