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Text message program launches

The state’s program to provide high school seniors and their families information and reminders about important college application and enrollment deadlines launched last week.

In December, the state announced that high school seniors and their parents may sign up to receive text messages from the Delaware Department of Education’s Higher Education Office to support the college application and transition to college process. More than 4,000 seniors have signed up so far, and both students and parents now can sign up to receive messages.

To sign up:

o   Students (seniors):  Text “Student” to (302) 262-8866 

o   Parents:  Text “Parent” to (302) 266-2525

Every year, many high school seniors who have applied to college, completed their financial aid information and were accepted to college never show up for the first day of classes in the fall. It is a national problem affecting an estimated 10 to 15 percent of college-intending high school graduates, according to research conducted by Benjamin Castleman (University of Virginia) and Lindsay Page (University of Pittsburgh), national experts on this phenomenon known as “summer melt.” For students from low-income families and those who would be the first in their family to attend college, the figure is even higher. To support more Delaware students to start their freshman year of college as planned, the Delaware Department of Education is partnering with Page and Castleman and with the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration to provide all Delaware students and their families help in the college application process.

Students and parents who sign up will receive two to three text messages per month between January and August. During the first several weeks of outreach, the messages will focus on providing support to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  For students who choose Delaware colleges or universities, later messages will provide their schools’ specific details about key college transition tasks. Those planning to attend out-of-state schools will receive more general information and reminders. While similar efforts have been undertaken at a smaller scale elsewhere, such as in regions of West Virginia, Delaware will be the first to implement at a statewide scale.

Participating students and parents will have the ability to respond to the text messages to seek additional help and support. A team of DOE Higher Education Office and UD’s Institute for Public Administration responders will be available to follow up with guidance and information.

This effort is made possible through generous financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Alison May
(302) 735-4000