In the summer of 2019, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) started working with Mainstay to increase the total number of students who come to the university in the fall of 2019.

MCLA received a grant for their chatbot, Murdock, with the purpose of increasing student retention. They determined that if they could help students with financial aid documents and processes, those students will be able to stay in school and progress towards graduation at a higher rate.

At MCLA, students are considered enrolled as soon as they submit their deposit, so Murdock communicated with these students via text, sending nudges and surveys as reminders for financial aid items.

The director of financial aid and the director of admissions have recognized that student communications need to be more centralized and aligned across departments, so they’ve begun working together, along with the Mainstay team, on the campaign calendar and strategy for the chatbot.

The Financial Services office noticed 135 returning students hadn’t submitted their financial aid documentation and had missing items in their student portal. Financial aid can often be a barrier for students making it to campus, so staff wanted to make sure these missing items were completed.

One of the campaigns that MCLA staff sent was simple, but extremely effective:

This was sent to the 135 returning students with missing items, as well as 203 additional incoming students. Within one week of sending this campaign, MCLA saw a 28% increase in completion of financial aid documents.

Simply by reaching these students where they are – on their mobile phones – and asking if they have questions while also providing the right resources for answers, was enough to get them to completion.