• Beth & Tim Manners

FAFSA Doesn’t Budge Even With Nudge

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Inside Higher Ed: “A study by economists at five universities, released this month by the National Bureau for Economic Research, suggests that consistently nudging incoming and current college students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) had no effect on college enrollment or financial aid recipient rates. Researchers tested a campaign on two distinct groups of students — high school seniors who applied to college using the Common Application and college students of all levels (incoming, applied but did not enroll, currently enrolled and dropouts) who applied within an undisclosed large state system.”


“Previous research has shown the success of nudging on a smaller scale from sources familiar to students, like advisers or local community organizations, Rosinger said. But for this study, the researchers tested whether nudging would be effective through state- and national-level organizations with broader reaches, like the Common Application, which is one possible reason the outreach didn’t garner results … Another possible explanation for the null results, the study argues, is that information about FAFSA submission is distributed more widely by other sources than in the past, and students don’t need the additional information or assistance these nudges attempted to provide.”


“Nudging efforts are particularly aimed to provide support that’s absent when disadvantaged students’ parents or high schools are not as involved in the college application process … but text message reminders are much less effective than sitting down with an adult to complete the FAFSA.”

© 2020 by The Manners Group.

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