Investing in Student Success
Increasingly, today's college students are parents or caregivers, the first in their families to go to college, financially independent, and/or seeking retraining for a new career. They face unique stressors as they juggle responsibilities at home and at school — and that leaves millions of students struggling to pay for college and afford basic necessities such as food, childcare, housing, and healthcare.
At BDT, we invest in several higher education initiatives to expand access to college and student success.
Unlocking Millions in Financial Aid
For aspiring college students, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a critical step towards college enrollment — yet many students struggle to complete the application. In 2019, we created Wyatt®, a text message-based chatbot that helps high school seniors navigate the FAFSA from beginning to end.
- Since its inception, Wyatt has helped more than 30,000 students complete the FAFSA, securing an estimated $39 million in need-based federal grants.
- Students who use Wyatt not only complete the FAFSA at higher rates, but also tend to complete it earlier than non-users, increasing the amount of aid they may receive.
Connecting Students to Vital Assistance
Today's college students face significant barriers to completing their degrees, including experiencing food and housing insecurity. Only 1 in 3 students who enroll at two-year institutions actually graduate. We've partnered with community colleges to connect students with benefit programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and the childcare subsidy so they can focus on their studies, and worry less about paying for their meals and other basic needs.
By incorporating Benefits Data Trust into our ecosystem of holistic supports, we are able to connect students to an array of resources that helps them focus on what they came here to do – learn, earn their degrees, and achieve success."
Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez
President of Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania
I was falling behind on filling out the application, and [Wyatt] kept texting me and reminding me…getting financial aid will give me a lot more security going to school. The expenses just pile up and pile up. Nobody wants all that debt."
Wyatt user and Texas high school senior