Inside the Nudge Unit

Inside the Nudge Unit

How small changes can make a big difference

David Halpern

Low-income families, with children approaching college age, were offered a free service to pre-fill the college application forms using their tax and income information. The researchers found that pre-filling the forms, which took no more than a few minutes and cost just a few dollars, increased university enrolment from these lower income families by around a quarter (34 to 42 per cent), and increased the proportion receiving a scholarship by around a third. 9 The researchers also found that giving information, the standard government response, made no difference at all. Clearly the intervention was extremely cost-effective: a great many forms can be pre-filled for the equivalent cost of an expensive new scholarship or outreach programme.

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