Eight personalized text messages to low-income students resulted in a 6% increase in college enrollment

Student graduation

Student graduation

What was the challenge?

Every year 20 to 30% of college-accepted high school graduates in urban districts fail to matriculate in college in the fall — a phenomenon known as “summer melt”.

What was the program change?

Sending students text message reminders about key tasks related to college matriculation, such as completing financial aid paperwork, have been found to increase first-year enrollment. We designed personalized text messages for students and parents to remind them of critical tasks, and connect them to individualized college and financial aid advising.

How did the evaluation work?

High school students from five cities were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) a control group that did not receive messages, 2) a group in which only students were sent messages, 3) a group in which both students and their parents were sent messages.


What was the impact?

Among all students sent text messages, 68% enrolled in college in the fall compared with 64.9% of those not sent messages. Enrollment effects were larger for the lowest-income students and for first-generation students. Among low-income students, the text messages increased enrollment from 66.4% to 72.1%, a nearly 6% increase in enrollment.





Project Type

Impact evaluation of program change





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