By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
It’s that time of year again. Colleges everywhere are flooding high school seniors with FAFSA messages and reminders. And just like last year, my Inbox has been filling up with questions from admissions and Marcom leaders asking for ideas to help increase completion rates.
As I’ve talked about before, context matters in most situations. This one is no different. Any time you want a prospective student or parent to take action on something, explaining the why in a way in a relatable, easy to understand way is crucial. I want you to explain why it’s in their best interest to fill out the FAFSA in October instead of waiting until January or February, and how doing so could help make coming to your school a lot less expensive. That’s the first takeaway from today’s article. Keep reading for more ideas and tips.
- If you’re sending an email, have it come from their admissions counselor and not a general Office of Admissions or Office of Financial Aid account. Same thing goes for any letter or text message. Have it come directly from their counselor. And if a calling campaign is part of your strategy, do your best to set up those calls ahead of time and explain why the call is so important. Back to email for a minute. Your subject line will be key. Consider using something like “Doing this could save you a lot of money at <School Name>” or “Trying to make college less expensive for you.”
- Personalize your message. Don’t just give them the FAFSA link along with your school code and tell them they need to go do the FAFSA right now. Instead, explain that you want to help save them as much money as possible, and that the FAFSA is one of the biggest ways to do that. Touch on the fact that you know this is the hardest, most confusing part of the college search for most student and families. If necessary, you could also add that millions of students who would have qualified for grants don’t file because they think they won’t get anything. They won’t know unless they complete this form. Almost every student is eligible for some form of financial assistance.
- If you want to create some urgency, mention that some states and colleges grant money on a first-come, first-served basis. Let them know that to get the biggest financial aid package possible (i.e. more grants and less loans, along with things like work study) they should complete their FAFSA sooner rather than later.
- Send a similar, separate personalized message from the admissions counselor to the parent(s).
- Offer to help them if they get stuck on anything. Make it clear that you’re just an email, text or phone call away.
- If you’re looking for a call to action, ask the student to let you know where they’re at with the FAFSA. Have they talked about it as a family? Have they created an account and gotten their FSA ID yet? And if their family isn’t planning to do the FAFSA, tell them you’d still like to know.
If you’d like to talk more about any of the bullet points, or if you’d like an outside set of eyes to look at your FAFSA message, all you have to do is shoot me a quick email.