fafsa tweet

FAFSA apologizes for using “I’m poor” meme: funny or distasteful?

June 25, 2014

fafsa tweet

FAFSA tries to be clever on Twitter

As depicted in the image above, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), part of the U.S. Department of Education (and an acronym you well know if you went to college and needed financial aid) tweeted a now-deleted note reading, “If this is you, then you better fill out your FAFSA,” featuring an image of Kristen Wiig in the movie Bridesmaids being a drunk person in coach complaining to a flight attendant who won’t let her roam around the first class section.

Memes are a growing part of any social media strategy, and humor is certainly a win for many brands, but this isn’t the first time that an attempt at humor has raised eyebrows. What we really want to know is what is your initial impression of the tweet (before you read our take) – is it humorous to you, or is it in poor taste, and why?

At first glance, I laughed a bit, but then I thought, “hey wait a minute,” because these are the people that decided how much money I could or could not get for college tuition. This is the federal government mocking me and millions of others that need or needed financial aid. Maybe it’s not so funny after all.

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The @FAFSA twitter account apologized and deleted the tweet, calling it “insensitive,” writing ““We apologize for the insensitivity of our previous tweet. Our goal is to make college a reality for all. We’re very sorry.”

The Department of Education issued a statement to Consumerist.com, adding,“We apologize 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.”

The ultimate irony

What captured our attention is that this tweet debacle (funny or not) comes on the heels of a new report released today by the Federal Reserve Bank in New York that determined a bachelor’s degree is still worth the investment, regardless of rising student loan debt and a continually difficult job market, particularly for recent college graduates.

So internally, we all agree, that although the meme itself is funny, the government using it in a FAFSA meme does come across as mocking people for needing (or wanting) help to improve themselves through higher education.

AGBeat Chief Operating Officer: Lani, named 100 Most Influential, as well as 12 Most Influential Women in Blogging, Bashh Founder, Out and about in Austin A Lister, is a business and tech writer and startup consultant hailing from the great state of Texas in the city of Austin. As a digital native, Lani is immersed not only in advanced technologies and new media, but is also a stats nerd often buried in piles of reports. Lani is a proven leader, thoughtful speaker, and vested partner at AGBeat.

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