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  • Beth Anne Consolazio

Navigating Financial Aid Delays: 5 Communication Tips to Engage with Students

Updated: Feb 14

In the face of the Department of Education's announcement to delay FAFSA data, institutions find themselves seeking effective ways to engage with prospective students and provide them with valuable information during this uncertain period. While various options, such as creating internal financial aid forms and extending decision deadlines, are on the table, the key focus remains on communication. This blog aims to offer practical tips for institutions to enhance their communication strategies, ensuring a positive and supportive experience for students.

  1. Establish clear channels of communication. Timely and transparent communication is crucial. Keep students informed about the status of their financial aid applications and any potential delays. This not only manages expectations but also alleviates anxiety among students. Regular updates through email, text messages, phone calls, and social media platforms ensure that information is disseminated across various channels, catering to the diverse preferences of students and families.

  2. Connect early and often. Even though the financial aid packages may not be available until April, connecting with students and families early shows genuine care and interest. Establishing a plan for financial aid options and addressing questions promptly contributes to a positive relationship. Research and recent surveys show that most students are stressed about their financial aid and the FAFSA delays. Personalized outreach can be a powerful tool for engagement and to show the institution cares.

  3. Develop an omni-channel communication plan to share updates with students and families. Recognizing that students access information through various channels, institutions should leverage multiple communication platforms. Regular updates through email, text messages, phone calls, and social media platforms can help ensure that students receive crucial information regardless of their preferred communication method. Make calling part of a robust omnichannel engagement strategy. Calling is an excellent outreach method to engage students in a truly personalized fashion. With one in three students interested in phone calls after inquiring, it’s important to facilitate those engagement opportunities. If staffing is limited, consider outsourcing qualifying call campaigns to companies like ConnectEd Enrollment Services. ConnectEd telerecruitment services integrates directly into the institution's Slate instance, using Slate fetch queries and forms and Slate Voice, documenting the conversation immediately.

  4. Leverage Technology for Updates. Utilize technology to provide real-time updates on financial aid processing status. Implementing a user-friendly portal where students can track the progress of their financial aid application can empower them with information and reduce uncertainty. Use internal forms and other financial aid resources, such as the Net Price Calculator and CSS Profile, to provide estimated packages with students and families ahead of the FAFSA results. Additionally, consider hosting virtual Q&A sessions about financial aid and alternatives, fostering interactive communication and community building.

  5. Reiterate Commitment to Student Success. Emphasize your institution's commitment to supporting students through every step of their academic journey. Reassure them that despite the delays, you are dedicated to providing the necessary resources and assistance to ensure a smooth transition to college life.

In navigating financial aid delays, effective communication is the linchpin of a positive and supportive student experience. By adopting proactive communication strategies, providing clear information, and offering dedicated support, institutions can help alleviate the stress associated with financial aid uncertainties, reinforcing a positive relationship with their student community. Fostering transparency and collaboration will contribute to a more resilient and informed student body as they pursue their educational aspirations.

Explore the range of services offered by ConnectEd Enrollment Services to provide assistance to institutions at

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