Fixing the "Duh" Stuff

March 9, 2009 | Blog

Score another one for the new U.S. Department of Education— attention to the kinds of details that unwittingly trip many of us up, with serious consequences.

Behavioral economists such as Richard Thaler have been talking about the importance of framing “default options” such that when we just do the usual, we end up making good choices. In the financial aid context, this can mean just making sure that when we type in the intuitive address to a website, it goes where we’d expect it to. So type in “fafsa.gov” to get help on the FAFSA and “education.gov” to visit the U.S. DOE. Except until recently these sites were the wrong ones.

No longer! Thanks to the leadership of Bob Shireman, who’s clearly got a handle on how students and families think and how we can make the existing system work at least a little better at next to no cost, these problems are solved. Can’t wait to see what he thinks of next!

If the last administration was so smart, how come nobody bothered to do this years ago, when the issues were originally noted?

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