Increasing College Access and Success through Text Messaging: Riding the Waves of Financial Aid

This past summer, NCAN collaborated with Signal Vine1 for the first time to provide a “summer melt” text-based outreach campaign that NCAN members used with their students transitioning from high school to college. This collaboration enabled NCAN to offer the texting service to our members at a deeply discounted rate.

Sixteen member organizations and schools participated in the pilot program, with nearly 3,000 students served by its conclusion. The program showed impressive results, with student engagement rates of 76% and an average response rate of 60% per message. 65% of students showed high engagement rates, meaning they responded to a majority of the messages from their advisors. The pilot program ended with its final message to students on September 9, 2015.

NCAN’s Summer Melt Campaign draws from the lessons of applied behavioral economics research by Drs. Benjamin Castleman and Lindsay Page, which showed an 11% increase in matriculation when students were sent personalized text message “nudges” during the summer between high school and college. 

Because of the pilot’s success, and expressed interest from NCAN members, NCAN and Signal Vine are expanding their partnership and services so organizations can use text messaging nudges all year long. The next phase of this rollout will be the Financial Aid Campaign. This campaign will start in January, 2016. 


As with the Summer Melt Campaign, NCAN will provide a standard set of messages created by NCAN members. The new 16-week Financial Aid Campaign will help students understand and complete the financial aid process, including FSA ID and FAFSA and award letters. Each participating organization can customize these messages to include program-specific content and dates/deadlines, send messages to either groups of students or individually, and can interact with students based on the way they respond to previous text messages. A dashboard allows advisors to see aggregate metrics and results across their students.


Do not fret; the Summer Melt Campaign is not going away! NCAN members will now be able to support their students through text messaging from January through August by participating in both campaigns, with more to come – NCAN will be launching a College Admission Campaign in September, 2016.

How much does it cost?
The cost is for the Financial Aid campaign is $5 per student.  However if you chose to participate in the Summer Melt Campaign during summer of 2016, the cost is only $7 per student. NCAN members will now be able to participate to support their students through text messaging from January through August through participating in both campaigns, with more to come. 
There are no set-up fees for NCAN members who participate. This includes a standard set of messages for this four month summer melt campaign to help students with their transition from high school to college. Participating organizations will be able to customize these messages and/or send additional messages through the platform at no additional charge

To listen to the information webinar click here.

Download the one pager | Download the draft text messages

Any further questions can be directed to Amina Anderson Pringle, NCAN Member Services Manager at



1  Signal Vine, LLC’s mission is to extend the reach and impact of organizations with text messaging. The company has developed an enterprise text messaging platform for education organizations to enable real-time, two-way text communications which are enhanced by a data-driven, intelligent messaging engine to motivate action at the right time. Signal Vine believes counselors, advisors, and mentors are the critical drivers of positive outcomes for students, so they designed the platform to expand staff reach, allow for more personalized and real-time digital communication with students than email offers, and enable them to more quickly identify those who need their help the most. The design of Signal Vine's technology is guided by the findings of researchers, the use cases of education organizations, and the behavioral needs of students.