Financial Aid Nudges: A National Experiment with Informational Interventions

High college prices are a substantial barrier to college completion. Even after initially applying for financial aid, many students do not re-file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or file late, harming their prospects for continued financial support. Prior evidence suggests that low-cost technological interventions delivering personalized information and/or financial advising can help mitigate informational and behavioral barriers to FAFSA refiling and generate improved college outcomes for students. But the utility of such interventions for increasing FAFSA renewal rates at scale is uncertain.

This study examines the efficacy of a set of informational interventions using text-message communication delivered across a variety of institutions and geographic areas with a national sample of undergraduates derived from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study of 2016. It extends prior work by considering several treatment variants relative to each other and to a control group. This study is supported by the Institute for Education Sciences. Read the pre-registered evaluation plan and first report.