UNDERTAND AID AND ELIGIBILITY
– College Access Advisor Interview
Federal student aid encompasses grants, loans, and work study. Customers are not always aware of all three and often don’t understand the difference between them.
The FAFSA form is a gateway to federal student aid. It is also a gateway to other forms of aid like merit scholarships, state aid, and institutional scholarships. This gateway provides aid to all income levels, however, many customers fail to apply because they do not know the breadth of aid the FAFSA opens up to them.
How might we increase completion rates and raise awareness of the aid options that the FAFSA form makes available to those who fill out the FAFSA?
- Increase FAFSA completion rates in Pell eligible customers, and customers who lack formal support networks
- Increase FAFSA completion rates for students who think they do not qualify
– National College Access Network, 2016
HOW CUSTOMERS ARE BEING HELPED
- Districts, schools, and community-based organizations support students and families through events to learn about and complete the FAFSA form, without needing to conduct research and find the same information on their own
- Digital and social media FAFSA completion marketing campaigns
- High school guidance counselors tracking student completions to increase submissions
- Scholarship organizations advertise the FAFSA completion to qualify for their scholarships (e.g. United Negro College Fund, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Millennial Scholars Initiative)
HOW FSA DIGITAL CUSTOMER CARE IS HELPING
Consolidation of multiple sites to make it easier for customers to find the information they need to make informed decisions and for guidance counselors to have a single source of truth and resources to provide customers with regarding college and financial aid
OPPORTUNITIES FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION
- Create a program for parents and students, like Social Security, that through qualifying years and events (attending school, moving up through grades, etc.) you start earning and tracking money that can be used for college funding
- Promote early education about money and the differences between loans, grants, and scholarships, so people of all backgrounds and income levels can understand the benefits of completing the FAFSA and what kind of aid applicants could be eligible to receive
- Provide contextual and illustrative examples of the differences between loans, grants, and scholarships to help give customers a holistic understanding of their options
– Sallie Mae Survey, 2018