As follow-up to studies it conducted in 2010 and 2015, NASFAA again surveyed financial aid professionals at its member institutions in an effort to better understand how ongoing regulatory changes are affecting college financial aid offices. The 2020 NASFAA Administrative Burden Survey (published May 2020) revealed the following key findings:
- Forty-three percent of respondents said their financial aid office recently faced moderate resource shortages — in staff, finances, and technology, among other commodities — that affect the level of services during peak processing periods. This proportion remains virtually unchanged from 2015.
- The most frequently reported long-term resource shortages included a limited budget, and an insufficient number of counseling and support staff members. Respondents reported similar shortages in 2015, but issues involving budgets have now migrated to the top of the list.
- The major causes contributing to those shortages most often cited by respondents were inadequate institutional budgets, compliance workload, and, though to a lesser extent, bureaucratic inefficiency and additional Title IV requirements. The 2015 survey showed similar results but included “more applicants” among the top causes.
- Respondents reported that the negative impacts resulting from resource shortages ranged from less time for direct services to students, such as financial literacy and outreach efforts, to limited staff to oversee activities within the financial aid office, such as aid processing, verification, compliance, and providing consumer information.
- More than 40% of survey respondents said complying with verification comprised 20% or more of their operating budgets. About 17% of respondents reported it took more than an hour on average to verify a single application, while 38% said it took an average of less than 20 minutes.
The recommendations put forth in this report address the causes associated with resource constraints and call on Congress and the Department of Education (ED) to take reasonable steps to reduce administrative burden. The report's recommendations fall into four broad categories:
- Streamline Student Aid Application Processes;
- Eliminate Burdensome and Duplicative Regulations;
- Reform Regulatory Development Processes; and
- Support Aid Community Efforts to Enhance Financial Wellness and Curb Student Indebtedness
If enacted, the recommendations would allow financial aid administrators to have more time to spend counseling students and to be in compliance with their administrative capability mandate.
This report is an update to the work completed in NASFAA's 2015 Administrative Burden Survey Report and Findings from the 2010 NASFAA Administrative Burden Survey report.