Texting students in a school district or even across the entire state has a measurable impact on student enrollment and college persistence. But can you achieve similar results with a national campaign, texting hundreds of thousands of students across a variety of schools and backgrounds? Kelli Bird, Benjamin Castleman, Joshua Goodman, and Cait Lamberton recently released a working paper to confirm that yes, you can.
- a traditional campaign emphasizing the financial benefits of FAFSA completion
- a campaign of planning prompts that encouraged students to set aside time to work on applications and financial aid forms.
- a campaign to nudge students by identifying them as motivated students
The first two campaigns had no significant impact on students applying for college. But the third campaign – text nudges that prompted students to complete certain tasks – increased a typical student’s likelihood of enrolling in college by 1.1%. First generation students were about 2% more likely to enroll in college.
Study: Nudging at a National Scale
- Are established nudging outcomes possible at a national scale?
- What are the specific mechanisms underlying these outcomes?
- Outcomes measured:
- College application behavior of students through the common app.
- Probability of enrolling in college.
- Average quality of costs of the colleges in which students enrolled.
Tested 2 variations in content:
- Concertizing the financial benefits of FAFSA completion.
- Positive that activation (nudge students by identifying them with motivated/successful students).
- Providing concrete planning prompts= significant increase in college enrollment (1.1% more likely to enroll, 1.7% of first-gen).
- 1.1% of students were more likely to enroll in college.
- Impact of nudges larger for first gen students (1.7%) increase in enrollment.
- Method matters: concrete planning prompts are effective, while traditional human capital investments (emphasize financial benefits associated with FAFSA) are not.