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Why Colleges Should Continue Accepting Deposits Despite FAFSA Delays

Students, Parents & Institutions Face FASFA Delays

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial step for many students in securing financial aid for college. With the recent U.S. Department of Education announcement that the FAFSA would not be available until December 31, students, parents and institutions face uncertainty. At 3 Enrollment Marketing, we believe it remains essential for students and their families to know what their aid options are and for institutions to continue accepting deposits. Here’s why: 

Maintaining Enrollment Momentum: Accepting deposits ensures a continuous enrollment process. It helps colleges gauge the interest of prospective students and plan accordingly for the upcoming academic year. Keep in mind most colleges offer refundable deposits. If a student’s options change financially, they aren’t stuck with their choice. 

Financial Planning and Stability: Deposits provide financial stability and forecasting ability to the institutions. They help in budgeting and resource allocation for the new academic year. 

Student Commitment: Deposits signify a commitment from students, securing their place in the incoming class. This commitment is crucial for both the students and the institutions for planning purposes. 

Confidence Building Among Students: Continuing to accept deposits assures students that their educational plans remain on track, fostering a sense of security and confidence in their chosen institution. 

What can your institution do to guide students and families through the next several weeks? 

Offer certainty and clear communications. Now is the time for your institution to bring its resources to bear so you can offer reassurance and clear communication to your future students. 3 Enrollment Marketing understands the goals of a well thought out communications strategy that involves multiple channels and person-to-person touch points. A well planned and executed strategy will demonstrate your institution’s commitment to its future students. 

Tips for Colleges Communicating About the FAFSA 

  • FAFSA Preparation Checklist: Create a FAFSA preparation checklist NOW, including necessary documents and information required for filing the FAFSA. Use your enrollment marketing resources to get the word out.
  • Early Information Sessions: Marshal your Financial Aid team! Host webinars, create short videos and offer in-person information sessions to educate students and parents about the FAFSA process and any changes in the application.
  • Partner Up: Work with your high school and community partners to educate counseling teams, teachers and most importantly parents about the FAFSA. Host in-person FAFSA completion events with your high school partners and community organizations.
  • Regular Updates: Provide regular updates via email, social media, and the college website about the status of the FAFSA and any expected timelines. We spot checked over a dozen college financial aid pages and found many still list October 2023 as the start of the FAFSA application period!
  • Financial Aid Counseling: Offer personalized counseling sessions for students to discuss their financial aid options and preparations for FAFSA filing.
  • Alternative Funding Information: Inform students about alternative funding options such as scholarships, grants, and work-study programs available at the institution.
  • Be Bold: Consider offering estimated pre-awards or engaging in College Boards CSS Profile to create aid estimates based on the best financial information available. 

By implementing these strategies, colleges can begin to navigate the challenges posed by the FAFSA delay while maintaining a positive and supportive environment for prospective students. If you need support reaching prospective students and their families, 3 Enrollment Marketing can offer you solutions for outreach and further strategies in reaching your 2024 goals. 

For more information on how is the FAFSA is going to change you can read an article by USA Today. 

We’ll touch more on this more in our next webinar. Ctrl + R: Everything is Fine. Yield Reboot. Join us to get challenged to think differently about your current strategy, be entertained by two seasoned higher-ed survivors and gain actionable yield tools to make a real impact.