The U.S. Department of Education Should Think Before It Tweets

This week the U.S. Department of Education gave us an excellent example of what NOT to tweet out to the many college students who will be hoping for student aid this school year. It also showed it’s about as good at social media as the average “cool” parent.

In what can only be described as an attempt to be hip gone awry, Federal Student Aid, @FAFSA, tweeted to its followers a still from the movie “Bridesmaids” accompanied with the quote, “Help me. I’m poor.” While a funny quote that I’ve often used myself when feeling particularly broke, it’s probably not appropriate when coming from the Education Department. Especially when sent out with the caption, “If this is you, then you better fill out your FAFSA:”

The department likely wasn’t intending to offend students who need aid to pay for college, but the tweet read like a mockery of those who require assistance to afford the growing cost of education. Nearly four hours after the “Bridesmaids” tweet, the department posted another, this time saying, “We apologize for the insensitivity of our previous tweet. Our goal is to make college a reality for all. We’re very sorry.”
Filling out a FAFSA is something most incoming students are encouraged to do. However, the Education Department estimates more than 1 million high school students don’t fill out the form even though many of them would be eligible for a federal Pell Grant. Pell Grants do not have to be paid back.
Spokeswoman from the Education Department Dorie Nolt released a statement about the Twitter post and apologized for “this insensitive Twitter post, which flies in the face of our mission of opening doors of opportunity for every student.”
“It was an ill-conceived attempt at reaching students through social media. We are reviewing our process for approving social media content to ensure it reflects the high standards we expect at the U.S. Department of Education.”
Image from the Associated Press
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