When we think of student engagement, we often focus on students’ ability to engage with their curriculum in the classroom. However, student engagement extends far beyond the (virtual) classroom to areas including financial aid and academic advising.
With a decline in the number of completed FAFSA applications and continuing uncertainty from students and prospective students regarding starting or continuing their postsecondary education during this time, investing in ways to keep students engaged with higher education is more important than ever.
Demystifying the Financial Aid Process
Colleges and universities are keen to figure out how to maintain continuity with their student engagement efforts in light of the pandemic. The shift to a primarily remote campus environment, lack of face-to-face connections, and frequent changes in health and safety protocols have made things even more confusing for students trying to navigate their college experience.
The FAFSA completion rate has dropped, particularly among minority and low-income students who have seen in-person avenues to getting assistance with the process shuttered in light of the pandemic. In the past, these students could receive help with the financial aid application process through in-person financial aid counseling at their schools, houses of worship, and community centers, but that is often no longer the case.
To fix this, institutions are turning to technology to fill the gap. Investing in data-driven, automated technologies provides a better, more seamless experience that walks students through the financial aid process. A good system will check the boxes on questions such as: “Does the technology work in an intuitive way?” and “Does it guide the student through a process that is completely new to them?”
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