The US Census Bureau states that the lifetime earnings of college graduates is about twice as high as those with only a high school diploma. Furthermore, college graduates are more likely to be employed over their lifetime. This is a positive outcome not only on an individual level, but also for society – more stable income turns into higher purchasing power, more taxes contributions and ultimately stronger indicators of development. One of the biggest barriers for college matriculation, especially in the lower income groups where rates tend to be much lower, is access to financial aid. Thus, increasing access to existing aid is crucial in ultimately improving the well-being of our society.

In an effort to improve post-secondary education outcomes in American students, ideas42 and its sub-contractors designed and tested eight behavioral interventions aimed at just that. In one of their interventions, they managed to increase the percent of priority financial aid filings from 29% to 50% when a reminder email was sent to both the student and parent. The email contained nudges using a majority rule (80% of students receive aid), top-of-mind (you must re-file every year) and urgency (you have until March 1st) In the pilot study they carried out with Arizona State University, ideas42 estimate that if all students/parents received these e-mails, the result would be an incredible 27$ million increase in the amount of financial aid given out, at just this one school.

ideas42 is a nonprofit specializing in using behavioral science to build scalable solutions. You can read more about their work in education here.