Nudging at Scale: Experimental Evidence from Fafsa Completion Campaigns

59 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019

See all articles by Kelli Bird

Kelli Bird

University of Virginia - University of Virginia

Benjamin Castleman

University of Virginia

Jeffrey Denning

Brigham Young University

Joshua Goodman

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Cait Lamberton

University of Pittsburgh

Kelly Ochs Rosinger

Pennsylvania State University

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

Do nudge interventions that have generated positive impacts at a local level maintain efficacy when scaled state or nationwide? What specific mechanisms explain the positive impacts of promising smaller-scale nudges? We investigate, through two randomized controlled trials, the impact of a national and state-level campaign to encourage students to apply for financial aid for college. The campaigns collectively reached over 800,000 students, with multiple treatment arms to investigate different potential mechanisms. We find no impacts on financial aid receipt or college enrollment overall or for any student subgroups. We find no evidence that different approaches to message framing, delivery, or timing, or access to one-on-one advising affected campaign efficacy. We discuss why nudge strategies that work locally may be hard to scale effectively.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.

Suggested Citation

Bird, Kelli and Castleman, Benjamin and Denning, Jeffrey and Goodman, Joshua and Lamberton, Cait and Ochs Rosinger, Kelly, Nudging at Scale: Experimental Evidence from Fafsa Completion Campaigns (August 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26158. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3439168

Kelli Bird (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - University of Virginia ( email )

Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904
United States

Benjamin Castleman

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Jeffrey Denning

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

Joshua Goodman

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/about/faculty-staff-directory/joshua-goodman/

Cait Lamberton

University of Pittsburgh ( email )

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Kelly Ochs Rosinger

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
18
Abstract Views
105
PlumX Metrics