Spring 2016

Freshman year financial aid nudges: An experiment to increase FAFSA renewal and college persistence

Spring 2016 (51) 2, 389-415
Lindsay C. Page

In this paper we investigate, through a randomized controlled trial design, the impact of a personalized text messaging intervention designed to encourage college freshmen to refile their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and maintain their financial aid for sophomore year. The intervention produced large and positive effects among freshmen at community colleges where text recipients were almost 14 percentage points more likely to remain continuously enrolled through the Spring of sophomore year. By contrast, the intervention did not improve sophomore year persistence among freshmen at four-year institutions among whom the rate of persistence was already high.