If students are responsive to text-message reminders, then those messages could be tailored to exert the same kind of “run with the herd” effect.

text-student-aidEvery year, more than a million students don’t complete the FAFSA — the main federal student-loan application.

One big reason? The form is so complicated that it discourages some people from even trying.

Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would scrap the much-maligned Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They’d replace it with a much simpler two-question form that’s roughly the size of a postcard.

And President Obama has proposed his own initiative to increase FAFSA completion rates by giving high schools information that would allow them to track students who haven’t filled it out and encourage them to finish it.

Both efforts are designed to get student aid into the hands of those who need it most. Research shows that many of the students who don’t fill out the form would be eligible to go to college at a cost of next to nothing if they did.

Yet some observers say these approaches ignore a central issue that would ensure that more students complete their paperwork: outreach. And that there could be a simple solution that plays right into the lifestyles of today’s students — text messages.

(Next page: A cost-effective way for filling out FAFSA forms)


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