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Pivoting Strategies With the FAFSA Delay

Overcome FAFSA delays

If recruiting college students (and students deciding on what colleges to attend) wasn’t hard enough, this year got much more complicated with the delay of both the FAFSA application and getting data out to colleges. Given the continued delays and uncertainties that this created, it’s fair to say that everyone is in a suboptimal situation! There is added stress on the entire system, from colleges navigating how to yield a class with delayed financial information to families trying to make a significant financial decision with limited information. 

Given this situation, colleges are evaluating numerous tactics with students to drive yield commitments and share much-needed information. One outcome of the FAFSA delay is that collegiate commitments will likely be later this year than usual. Already, 190 colleges have postponed their commitment deadlines. To combat this, below are two strategies for admissions offices to consider implementing.

Share Deposit Celebration Branded Merch Up Front

Colleges love to have students commit on admitted students days. Oftentimes branded merch is used as a carrot at these events, with messaging like “commit today and get a t-shirt!” However at upcoming spring events, this may not be as prevalent with all of the unknowns. So instead of just using branded merch to drive decisions at events, extend that messaging during the yield stage. Most colleges incorporate branded merch to celebrate the deposit, however this action is typically not shared with the admitted students. So instead of making this experience a surprise, share this opportunity up front (similar to how this is done at in-person events). Now, to be clear, students shouldn’t commit to a college because of what branded merch they will receive. However, as our research showed, merch creates excitement, is appreciated and is influential. So use messaging that they will receive merch to celebrate their decision to help drive commitments this yield season. And to amp up the experience even more, give students a choice on the branded merch they will receive!



Add A Touchpoint

With all of the unknowns and delays in the process, stay connected with the admitted class through a physical direct mailer. Now, we understand this would not have been budgeted at the beginning of the cycle but when looking for options to stay connected with the incoming class, this should be considered. Strong, consistent, empathetic and impactful communication during stressful times can really make a difference to students and their parents. With conversion rates on digital communication struggling, using the physical mailbox to send messaging to families is a smart move. By incorporating simple and appreciated branded merch in a mailing (stickers, friendship bracelets, key tags, etc.), it will surely stand out, be opened and spread your message. This also has the potential to raise affinity further, influencing students and separating your school from other prospective colleges.    

This is a unique yield season and pivoting strategies can make a big difference in the results.    Overcome FAFSA delays

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Postage Permits

We are happy to mail using a client’s USPS non-profit number. Here are a few best practices for this to go smoothly. Let our team know up front on the project so we can make sure to get the information we need right away. 

While our mail house does prefer to use their permit number for the mailing, we can use the client’s permit, If using their permit number, ensure there is enough postage to cover the mailing.

The information we need to in order to use a client’s nonprofit number includes the following:

Formatting the Mailing List

Our account team will advise on specific requirements for your project’s mailing list.  We generally recommend these best practices to format the mailing list: