The “Otter” chatbot draws upon advanced conversational AI to provide real-time, personalized guidance to students via text message

AI helps students find financial aid for college


The “Otter” chatbot draws upon advanced conversational AI to provide real-time, personalized guidance to students via text message

Nationwide, the students most likely to benefit from higher education–low-income and first-generation–are least likely to apply for financial aid.

Research suggests that AI-enabled nudging and guidance can help overcome this barrier: according to a recent study in Texas, students who received text message reminders from a trusted source were 17 percent more likely to complete a financial aid application.

“Washington now has one of the most affordable higher education environments across the country, but the financial aid process locks too many students out,” says Michael Meotti, executive director of WSAC. “Otter’s sophisticated technology provides students with individualized support in a familiar format and voice. We want to connect students with resources that help them thrive in higher education.”

Although the Washington College Grant, announced earlier this year, fully covers tuition for low-income students at public rates, it can only be accessed if students apply for financial aid.

This fall, Washington is working to boost financial aid applications through a pilot program that enables high school students to ask Otter questions directly via text message, and receive reminders or “nudges” about key deadlines.

“The process of applying for aid and navigating the enrollment process can be incredibly daunting. AI is enabling colleges and universities to provide support to more students than ever before–in a way that’s secure, personalized, and responsive to their unique needs and challenges. By providing students with real-time answers to common problems, it frees up time for advisors to support those who need it most,” says Drew Magliozzi, co-founder and CEO of AdmitHub.

Otter was developed through a public-private partnership with AdmitHub, developer of the conversational AI used by a growing number of colleges and organizations to help students navigate their way to–and through– college.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione

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