U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.
Applying to college and securing financial aid are complex processes that can be barriers to college enrollment, particularly for individuals not entering directly after high school. These adults can seek out support from various organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education-funded Educational Opportunity Centers (EOCs), which operate from offices located within select colleges and community-based organizations. The EOCs primarily target their help to adults with low incomes and those who are potential first-generation college-goers. This study examines whether adding low-cost, text-based messaging can help EOCs more effectively work with their clients to increase clients’ completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and college enrollment. About 3,500 EOC college-intending clients from 18 EOCs across the country were randomly divided into two groups: one received regular EOC services, and the other received EOC services plus a set of personalized, pre-programmed text messages focused on how to secure financial aid, complete key college enrollment steps, and navigate other potential barriers to college entry.