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Engaging the Financial Aid Priority Deadline Before the Holidays

By: Yvonne Eype   |   December 2021

Read about four effective ways to relay information about the Texas financial aid priority deadline to students before the holiday break!

The holidays bring your students a much-needed time to refresh and enjoy some time off. However, before they become too immersed in the holiday art of doing nothing, we need to set a friendly tone for the importance of submitting their FAFSA / TASFA early.  To do so, let’s discuss four effective ways to package our messaging and how to lean on the “giving” spirit of your network. 

1. Say What?

As educators, we recognize the importance of the content and practices that we work so hard to establish in our students. As students' minds are filled with sugar plums (whatever those are), Tik Tok dance goal videos, and Netflix binge-worthy shows, we must be intentional not just about what we say, but how we say it.

Student-friendly tone and creativity are essential. The FAFSA / TASFA priority deadline is just that – a priority deadline – not the final one. However, to students, this may be unclear and quite discouraging. So, we must always start by adding value.

As an example, messaging can be:
  • It's easy to get more money for college if you submit your FAFSA/TASFA early.
  • Submit That FAFSA Early = More Texas Grants!
  • College is less expensive with the FAFSA
  • The best part about grants and scholarships: You don't have to pay them back!

2. From “Have to” to “Want to”

We must also convey importance and urgency in a short and to the point manner without overwhelming students. It's a game-changer when the narrative shifts from "have to" to "want to". You can make FAFSA/TASFA a thing of valued anticipation rather than a stressful, sweat-producing event.

To accomplish this, make sure the following facts are part of your persuasion arsenal:
  1. Financial aid is given out on a first-come, first-served basis…until it runs out! [Catch that money!]
  2. On average, students who complete the FAFSA/TASFA early receive twice as much funding as students who file later. [2X the money is a WIN WIN!]
  3. By filling out the FAFSA/TASFA as soon as possible, students may be eligible for a great list of federal or Texas state grants!
  4. In Texas, the FAFSA/TASAF Priority Deadline is January 15th - students submitting by this date will have priority access to funding.
These statements convey urgency concisely and to the point - while promoting action. Also, do not assume that students understand the priority deadline at face value. Check out this article: 3 FAFSA® Deadlines You Need to Know Now. This is very helpful for clearing up a common misconception among students. You can also share this video with students: FAFSA: What It Is & Why It's Important.

3. Structure is Everything

You can't rely on content alone to make the impact you hope for. Think visually appealing and easily digestible, and have a clear flow of information. The best way to package your information for students is by getting creative with the structure. Think - checklist, infographics, trackers, articles with interactive links, etc. To up your structure game - consider youth preferred media like YouTube and Tik Tok videos (use student voice), social media thumbnails and posts (avoid jargon), articles (keep in mind that not all articles are created equally), GIFs, Memes, and more.                                                                        

4. Lean on the Expertise of Others 

Utilizing your network will save you time, allow you to make a greater impact on your students, and increase your ability to serve the students even while you're away for the holidays. Building a network of support for your students will provide them with resources and people they can turn to most of the year.  For instance, our Future Focused TX network partners (Get Schooled and Ask ADVi) provide students with text and online support during the holidays. Support is available whenever students need it, so there is no gap in communication.

Applying these quick tips for engagement will have your students singing “Come, they told me about FAFSA/ TASFA priority deadlines, pa rum pum pum pum!”

Yvonne Eype is the Executive Director of United for College Success (UFCS). Yvonne provides direction for all UFCS collaborative support and student facing projects, as well as coalition-wide projects and strategic initiatives. Yvonne also leads UFCS district teams across Texas in planning, creating, and implementing new solutions for student post-secondary success. Prior to UFCS, Yvonne served as a high school assistant principal and teacher for over 15 years.