Nudging at Scale: Experimental Evidence from Fafsa Completion Campaigns

59 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019 Last revised: 23 Jun 2022

See all articles by Kelli Bird

Kelli Bird

University of Virginia - Corcoran Department of History

Benjamin Castleman

University of Virginia

Jeffrey Denning

Brigham Young University

Joshua Goodman

Brandeis University - Department of Economics

Cait Lamberton

The Wharton School

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.

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 - Corcoran Department of History ( 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

Brandeis University - Department of Economics ( email )

Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.joshua-goodman.com

Cait Lamberton

The Wharton School ( email )

700 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA
United States
4127797280 (Phone)
19104 (Fax)

Kelly Ochs Rosinger

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

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