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Building a PA FAFSA Go! Team

FAFSA Intervention for Incoming and Returning Students


FAFSA is a complex and confusing process for students and their families. Many institutions have implemented practices to break down barriers, offer counseling, and increase FAFSA completion numbers within their student population to ensure no free money is left on the table.

This guide serves as a model for peer-to-peer programming that, when implemented, can help ensure your current or incoming students don’t miss deadlines. The PA State Grant deadline is May 1 each year. (There is also an August 1 deadline for first-time filers who will be attending a community college or open-access institution within PA). Find more information on PHEAA’s website.

The PA FAFSA Go! Team invites you to commit to FOCUS on FAFSA completion this year and implement some of these ideas at your institution. FAFSA is the catalyst for college affordability for our Pennsylvania learners, and our team is happy to help you implement a plan that makes sense for you and your students.

Peer-to-Peer (or Peer-to-Near Peer)

The PA FAFSA Go! efforts are peer-to-peer or peer-to-near peer in nature. This provides multiple benefits and strategies.

First, peer to peer education works well when conveying complex, perhaps seemingly boring information. A student is far more likely to speak with, and actually listen to, someone who sounds like them and possesses a sameness; being a college-going counterpart.

Secondly, creating a student driven process on campus provides valuable work skills, leadership roles, and networking while also relieving any additional capacity burden to the current financial aid staff at your institution and mitigating the higher costs associated with hiring professional personnel.

Thirdly, the PA FAFSA Go! campaign provides community and de-stigmatizes perceptions that financial aid isn’t for everyone or that people will know I am socio-economically disadvantaged. Learners realize that FAFSA is an opportunity for everyone.

Flexible, Customizable, and Timely

Any initiative or timing structure discussed in the following text can and should be conformed to the individual campus that is undertaking the PA FAFSA Go! work. Additionally, the plan can grow and change as campuses and individuals create unique ways to reach their students. And we want you to tell us about all of them! Reach out to us at the contact email at the end of this document.

The PA FAFSA Go! Team On Your Campus

The PA FAFSA Go! Team consists of a varying number of undergraduate and graduate students who begin calls to students October 1, or very near to this date, each year when the upcoming FAFSA opens. The number of students that you need depends on the size of your campus and how much outreach is needed for your student population. The PA FAFSA Go! campus team is led by one or more graduate assistants or senior student workers. The team is trained on FAFSA basics, including the timeline for submission, elements needed when completing a FAFSA, the FSA ID process, and of course, customer service skills.

Phone Calls

One of the first initiatives the PA FAFSA Go! Team focuses on is phone calls to incoming, traditionally-aged first-year students. It isn’t readily apparent that in October of their senior year of high school, they can, and should, be completing the FAFSA. This outreach is beneficial not just to the students, but to your institution as well, as FAFSA completion is a high indicator of likely enrollment. Your team should create a calling campaign that targets any accepted incoming students who haven’t completed a FAFSA.

  • Keep a call log to allow for transfer of information and notes regarding each student.
  • Inform admissions in the event that a student indicates they are no longer interested in attending your institution.
  • Be prepared to redirect students and families to other offices as questions arise during the FAFSA conversation.
  • Be sure to have the student start the call by saying something similar to “hello, my name is “X”, I am a student at “name of institution”.
    • Beginning the engagement in this manner immediately initiates the peer- or near-peer relationship and has been found to be the most successful.
  • Secondary calling efforts should focus on transfers and continuing students.
    • Calling transfer students requires a bit more training of the student workers.
    • Generally using more seasoned second- or third-year returning student workers is best. The nuances with already having a FAFSA completed for another school, the crossover period at your institution, and your various deadlines would need to be well understood in order to best assist these learners.
    • It is an important segment, however, and should be included in the calling campaign. PHEAA provides a list of returning students to your institution who have not completed the upcoming FAFSA renewal, and this can be a valuable tool to use as well.

Continuing student outreach will most likely be the largest part of the calling campaign. We suggest breaking out different clusters of students, essentially creating different campaigns for teams of the student workers including:

  • Students who are currently PA State Grant eligible
  • Students who have been nominated for the Ready to Succeed Program
  • Students who filed their FAFSA late in the current year
  • Students who have never filed a FAFSA but use private loans
  • Students who received a professional judgment in the current year
  • Students with account balances and no FAFSA on file
  • Don’t leave out your high EFC (Expected Family Contribution) students. They may need financial aid, too!


Sending a postcard reminder to the home of all continuing students is a nice way to remind families of the filing deadlines. It reaches families in their homes rather than in the electronic world. It gives them a school branded reminder and incorporates those who don’t answer calls or who don’t act after the phone conversation. Time postcards to arrive during the months of October or November and perhaps another time during the year.


Your PA FAFSA Go! Team can design and produce informational posters to place around campus, focusing on common areas such as restrooms and computer labs. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) also creates and publishes posters and brochures to foster FAFSA filing and you can order these online free of charge. This year, PHEAA is providing a PA FAFSA Go! Toolkit which incorporates an FSA ID Bookmark, a FAFSA Tipsheet, and a Scholarship Tipsheet. Visit to place an order for materials.

Digital Info Board

Many institutions have TVs or computer screens hanging in heavy traffic and common areas. Work with your digital media team to incorporate FAFSA messaging onto these free advertising resources.

Social Media

Your PA FAFSA Go! Team can create a social media presence. There are already some great ‘memes’ for FAFSA filing out there and unlimited creative potential within your student workers. Be sure to use platforms where your students interact, but also include messages on additional platforms for parent and guardian users.

Table Tents

Create bold, easy to read, informational table tents to place in dining facilities, common break or study areas, and in the library.


Who read them anymore? Right? Sending emails is an important part of the overall plan as it gives families a resource to reference later. In fact, during phone calls, a student can refer to the email that was sent in order to access direct links, school codes, and other helpful information. Be certain to include parent emails in this effort as well.


With the proper permissions in place, texting can be a powerful way to influence and reach our students. Begin the text with “this is “X”, a student at “your institution” for the best level of engagement. The PA FAFSA Go! Team should be trained to use your texting platform in order to best facilitate a texting campaign. We recommend you also incorporate your admissions team here for incoming students and texting regarding the FAFSA.


The PA FAFSA Go! Team should attend different events on campus in order to talk about FAFSA completion and hand out post cards or other resources. Several times during the fall the team can ‘flood’ the dining halls to promote FAFSA completion. Periodically visiting any high traffic area to disseminate FAFSA information is also helpful to the broad effort.

In conclusion

The PA FAFSA Go! Campus Team effort is one that any institution can begin implementing asap. The cost associated with creating such a robust effort is mitigated by utilizing federal and state work study budgets as well as much-valued graduate assistants, and free resources provided by PHEAA and other partners. The PA FAFSA Go! Campus Team members gain invaluable experience and development as they traverse their educational experience creating opportunities for connection and belonging.

Please reach out to the PA FAFSA Go! Taskforce with any questions or comments: