It’s hard to watch students you care about miss deadlines, lose out on financial aid opportunities or leave FAFSA applications incomplete. This behavior sets them up for later hardships such as an incomplete education or defaulted loans. As you know, such scenarios can and do occur frequently. In fact, a 2006 report by the American Council on Education indicates that one in 10 students don’t apply for FAFSA, because they simply miss the deadline.
If you are like many financial aid officers, you may feel thwarted in your desire to engage millennial students who are constantly distracted and on the go. Don’t worry: you have options. Here are four ideas for effectively increasing student engagement without tearing your hair out.
1. Use Multiple Forms of Communication
Students often fail to file important documents or miss opportunities because they’re unaware of them. Help your school keep students in the loop by reaching out to them in as many ways as possible, through text, voicemail, flyers, posters, social media and physical letters. The more you reach out, the greater your chances of actually making contact with students.
2. Put the Word Out About No-Loan Policies
No-loan policies (also known as “free tuition” programs) exist at several universities now. Even if your school isn’t among them, you still benefit students by letting them know how to get financial aid they don’t have to pay back. Knowing about good deals may help motivate students who are worried about financial burden, and it also helps students feel like you’re their partner.
3. Host Financial Literacy Workshops
Part of the engagement problem is that many students are clueless as to the consequences when they miss deadlines. Workshops that help them understand that a credit card is not an acceptable alternative to housing aid, for instance, can make a big impact. Ditto understanding the difference between a scholarship, which they don’t have to repay, and a loan, which they do. It’s easy to forget how complex financial aid jargon is to someone outside the industry, but even terms like subsidized versus unsubsidized can confuse a new student.[Tweet “Remember how complex financial aid jargon is to new students. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.”]
4. Streamline Verification
The FAFSA verification process is a bit of a bear, and it can put students off, sometimes being the sticking point that causes students to give up their pursuit of financial aid. Instead of allowing that to happen, implement an automated system, like StudentVerification, that enable students to sail through the verification process from the comfort of their own homes. This increases the chances that they will both receive and use a financial aid package, which in turn heightens their chances of earning a degree and supports your enrollment goals.
There’s no need to watch students miss opportunities over and over again when there are simple strategies to engage them. Begin by implementing one of these strategies at a time and soon, you’ll notice increasing engagement and higher student satisfaction.
To learn more about how StudentVerification can save your department time and money, while improving the student experience, click the image below.