As many as half of all low-income students do not apply to or attend selective institutions to which they appear to be admissible (based on their academic record) because, according to various indicators, they struggle with completing college and financial aid applications. In fact, a large percentage of Pell-eligible students do not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and thus do not receive any federal grant assistance. Of all college-intending high school graduates, up to 30% do not successfully enroll in college in the year following high school.
We invested in a funding partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to support a unique partnership with The Common Application: an intervention to incentivize low-income students to increase their college options by applying for financial aid via the FAFSA application process. Using an established online database from The Common Application, the intervention focused on financial aid awareness campaigns delivered via a combination of text, email, and U.S. Postal Service communications to help students think through net costs and available financial aid when choosing colleges to which to apply.