The personal one-on-one connection made between the financial aid staff member and the student is invaluable. To quote one financial aid director, “creating a ‘client services’ environment that is responsive to students, reinforced with an adequate use of technology and production-based processing, is essential.” The tactics below may seem like a no-brainer, but they are the most effective means to connect with students. The trick, however, is how we’ve found institutions to use these methods. So, here’s our top 5 ways for financial aid teams to reach students, and the best practices associated with each.

  1. Phone: Most all financial aid offices of campuses nationwide will the phone to reach students. However, one hidden trick is to use the phone to address non-urgent matters. For example, if your institution is seeking to change behaviour from visiting an on-campus office to a student portal, an effective tactic is to call students with a ‘Did you know that you can take care of your financial aid paperwork online?’ message.
  2. Email: Email is by far the most effective medium to reach people. It’s easy to manage, and still preferred by nearly everyone. Opt-in and opt-out capabilities allow people to choose their preferred communication method. Many departments have realized the value of and (and text-messaging) to stay in-touch with their constituents on an ongoing basis. For most programs, this is a weekly newsletter, reminders, and/or personalized message.
  3. Text Messaging: For students and in general the younger generation, text messaging is the most effective way to stay in-touch. The average college student receives 128 text messages a day, so you need to be strategic on your messaging – keep it short; keep it catchy; keep a theme.
  4. Snail-Mail: One may think that sending messages via USPS or campus-mail would not be on this list, but again, it all depends on how it’s used. Many successful financial aid departments send reminder postcards, checklists, and personalized messages on a regular basis.
  5. Go where they are! If your students live in residential halls, have a pizza party every few weeks with tips and reminders. If your students work off campus, visit them for a coffee-break at their place of employment. If a large number of students are in clubs or athletics, meet them for a 15–20-minute session where they are.

Out of sight, out of mind. To stay relevant, valuable, and proactive, your department can leverage these popular methods to stay in-touch with your student populations.
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If you’re looking for ways to save time and effort in reaching students, contact FA Solutions today. Our ‘Student Experience Center’ specializes in corresponding with students on your behalf using in/outbound phone and email. Explore more about FA Solutions LLC here.