Want students to complete their financial aid applications? Text them.

Research project shows texting is an effective technique for motivating students

 During the 2014–2015 school year, HISD participated in a text-messaging research project with the University of Pittsburgh aimed at improving FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) submission and completion rates among high school seniors at 17 district high schools. One group of students received the texts and another group did not.

Preliminary results reveal that between 12 and 16 percent more of the students who received the text-message reminders completed their applications, compared to students who did not receive the texts. OneLogos is the name of the web-based software used to facilitate and track the texts.

“While these findings are preliminary … they nevertheless point to the benefit of text-based outreach as a low-cost strategy for improving student completion of important college-going milestones, such as timely FAFSA filing,” said Lindsay Page, an assistant professor of research methodology at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education.

Page pointed out that because HISD students could also apply for financial aid through TASFA (Texas Application for State Financial Aid), which the study did not track, the results may actually underestimate the full extent of financial aid applications completed.

“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from seniors and counselors involved in the project,” said Director of College Readiness David Johnston. “Often, when a text goes out in the morning, counselors report that their offices are flooded that afternoon with students requesting help or wanting more information about the FAFSA. The effectiveness of texting students directly has been eye-opening.”

 HISD plans to partner with OneLogos to send financial aid reminders to juniors and seniors during the 2015–2016 school year.