This summer we recapped the Partnership’s successful efforts to boost financial aid applications – 650 more Dallas County seniors completed the FAFSA by Texas’ March 2015 priority deadline, ensuring that more low-income students receive aid to support college enrollment.

However, the summer after high school graduation can also be difficult to navigate, as graduates don’t have access to their counselor and are not yet connected to a college campus. To address this “summer melt” period, four school districts, 11 colleges and ATT teamed up to launch a texting service based on national research that allowed students to receive reminders on college enrollment milestones and text back to counselors and higher ed staff.

While enrollment results won’t be available until early 2016, here are some early findings and lessons learned:

Early Findings:
• 1,037 high school seniors opted in to participate
• Over 70% of participating students engaged in at least three conversations via text message as a result of the college reminder program
• 81% of the respondents found the text reminders to be helpful or incredibly helpful

Lessons Learned:
• Opening up texting communication channels allowed students a safe place to ask questions of their high school counselors and college staff.
• Students continue to express trepidation about paying for college, which reinforces the Partnership’s focus on financial aid help.
• As a result of the text message reminders, districts became aware of summer transcript requests as a significant barrier students face when registering for college classes.

As one senior class graduates, another now faces the financial aid and enrollment process. Here’s how you can get involved:

• Encourage 2016 seniors to sign up for text message reminders! Seniors may opt-in to participate by completing the online form for their district: Dallas ISD, Lancaster ISD, DeSoto ISD, and Grand Prairie ISD.
• Nominate high school juniors and seniors and college underclassmen to serve as Student Ambassadors by Oct. 28. Thanks to your nominations last year, we had over 60 students help promote financial aid completion via social media and marketing materials on their campuses. This year we are enhancing this peer-to-peer networking component by including additional college underclassmen.
• Visit www.YouCanAffordCollege.org for all the latest events, including free financial aid professional development, community FAFSA/TASFA workshops, and open convenings.

Have a college access/success event you’d like help spreading the word on? Email Sarah.Jensen@commit2Dallas.org.