Research

Synthesis

Ideation

Organization

Low-Fidelity 

User Testing

Prototyping

 FAFSA+ Case Study

Simplifying the way students apply for loans

Rethinking the Student Loan Application

Applying for student loans is a daunting process requiring tedious planning and a long, determined attention span.

Initial Research

Concept Development

Contact Organization

Prototype

Interview

Tech Audit

Experience Map

Insight Synthesis

Storyboard

Ideation

Information Architecture

Content Outline

Prototyping

User Testing

Wireframing

The Team

2 Students

Duration

4 Months

My Role

Product Designer

User Researcher

Students feel lost in the process for several reasons

Research

>50%

More than 50% of borrowers feel they don't fully understand the student loan process

77%

More than 3/4 borrowers wish they had someone to help them along in the process

Insights

No Clear Steps

The length of FAFSA is overwhelming, without clear guidance or a path

Number of Documents

FAFSA becomes a disorganized mess for students collecting the needed documents

Inflexible Access

FAFSA requires long-chunks of time for students to get oriented, offering little flexibility for students who work in "spurts"

Modular Application Process

FAFSA in managable segments

CHALLENGE

FAFSA has an inflexible format

>  Mobile Accessibility is an expectation for users

>  Users must set large chunks of time aside to just orient themselves to begin working on FAFSA 

STRATEGY

Creating a plan-of-action for students

FAFSA+ creates quick daily tasks, keeping students on top of deadlines. It creates an easily accessible space for students to complete short tasks in the car, between classes, or at their convenience. 

EXECUTION

Highly Functional Task Organization

Weekly calendar for users to complete tasks ahead of time

Daily Tasks outlined with completion tracker

Segmented, easily

consumable form design

Unified Application Home

All your documents and applications in one place

CHALLENGE

Overwhelming number of documents required

Students struggle to collect and keep track of the numerous documents required by FAFSA. This creates disorganization and a loss of time.

Social Security

Driver's License

W2 Form

1099 Form

Federal Tax Return

Income Taxes

Bank Statements

Transcripts

Mortgage info

Resume

Business Income

Career Goals

References Contact Information

Letters of Recommendation

STRATEGY

A single place to organize your applications and documents 

FAFSA+ creates a folder for each loan application. Required documents are stored within the applications folder. Questions are neatly organized by section.

EXECUTION

Everything you need for loan applications

stored in one place

Applications stored in same section with completion trackers

Applications split into smaller segment

Necessary documents stored within the application

Personalized Onboarding

Creating an actionable plan for your preferences

CHALLENGE

Students have unique working styles

Some students prefer to complete FAFSA in one multi-hour sitting, while others prefer to complete FAFSA in dozens of small 5-minute sessions.

STRATEGY

A personalized, actionable schedule for each user

FAFSA+ creates a schedule based on a user's preferences. They can complete the application all at once, or by answering a few questions per day.

EXECUTION

Auto-created schedule based on your preferences

Personalize Daily tasks to fit your schedule

Select which days you would like to work on FAFSA

Wireframes

Information Architecture 

Design Elements

As a potentially expandable brand and product, I worked to create design elements that brand a much broader scope of products and services under the Department of Education.

Typography

Colors

Components 

Remaining Challenges

Incentivizing students to stay on track with FAFSA+ proves to be the most challenging aspect. After validation, students felt comfortable with the overall user interface and experience.

 

User interviews suggested that students thought such a product could be useful to them - but may become an app that is downloaded for a month, and then deleted; this pattern would likely repeat through student's time in university.