CFAA Frequently Asked Questions

NASFAA Staff has compiled these frequently asked questions regarding the new Certified Financial Aid Administrator (CFAA) program. If you have any additional questions that are not answered below, please let us know.

When will the program be finalized and available?

NASFAA expects to launch the CFAA Program at the NASFAA National Conference in Orlando, FL during June of 2019. The CFAA Exam will be available during specific testing periods that will be announced.

What are the steps for applying for the CFAA?

Candidates interested in applying for the CFAA must complete an online application verifying that he or she meets the established eligibility requirements. At this time, the qualifying criteria for candidacy is expected to be a combination of:

  • Education (bachelor’s degree or higher)
  • Professional Experience (one of the following combinations, at a minimum)
    • 5 years of financial aid administration experience;
    • 3 years of financial aid administration experience and 7 NASFAA credentials; or
    • 1 year of financial aid administration experience and 12 NASFAA credentials
  • Affirm to uphold NASFAA Code of Conduct and Ethical Principles

Each application will be reviewed and, if approved, the applicant will qualify to sit for the CFAA Exam, which will be administered online.

How much will the CFAA cost?

The CFAA Program fees will be announced closer to the launch of the program. Check back in a few months for additional information.

Is study material available for the CFAA Knowledge Examination?

The CFAA Program will provide a Candidate Handbook that outlines the subjects included on the CFAA Exam. The Handbook also will include a list of recommended resources to utilize while preparing for the assessment. We expect the Handbook to be available for download during the spring of 2019.

What is the recertification process?

To maintain the CFAA designation, certificants will recertify every three years. Recertification will require accrual of professional development points, which will include--but will not be limited to--activities such as attending state, regional, and/or national conferences, participating in NASFAA U online courses, and conducting training sessions. A recertification fee will be required. More information regarding the recertification process will be available upon launch of the program.

What is the difference between NASFAA Credentials and the CFAA Program?

NASFAA Credentials and the CFAA Program are both excellent professional development opportunities for financial aid administrators. These programs complement each other, while offering unique benefits.

NASFAA offers 17 credentials that cover specialized areas of financial aid administration, such as verification and consumer information. These credentials are a great way to build a portfolio of demonstrated knowledge in specialized financial aid topics. NASFAA credentials are not renewable and do not expire; however, given the rapidly changing nature of this profession, continued training is strongly encouraged. Credentials serve as a starting place for new financial aid administrators, and also as great refreshers for more experienced professionals looking to strengthen their knowledge.

To earn a credential, the candidate must successfully complete the corresponding credential test. Four pathways enable candidates to access the credential tests:

Those who earn a credential are added to the NASFAA Credential Earners Honor Roll.

The CFAA Program is a certification in financial aid administration that covers the wide range of skills and knowledge required to perform competently in Title IV financial aid administration at any type of college or university across the country. Compared to the NASFAA Credential tests, which are specific to certain subject areas, the CFAA Exam assesses the broader knowledge required of a financial aid administrator across multiple subject areas. Credentials may serve as a pathway to the CFAA, as well as a means of maintaining the CFAA designation.

The CFAA Program application will verify the candidate meets the criteria--that is, the education, experience, and commitment to ethical behavior--necessary to gain access to the CFAA Exam. Once certified, the CFAA must recertify every three years, a process that will require an accumulation of points earned by completing various professional development activities. Those who earn and maintain the certification may display the “CFAA” designation.

How can our state or regional association help financial aid administrators prepare for and earn the CFAA?

As part of the program launch, NASFAA and the CFAA Commission are preparing a CFAA Candidate Handbook. In the Handbook, you will find a list of reference materials in the CFAA Core Resources section. You also will find the Exam Content Outline describing the foundational knowledge that your peers determined a financial aid administrator with approximately five years of experience can reasonably be expected to know. NASFAA plans to create more in-depth study materials after the program launches at the National Conference this June; more information about this will be available in the coming months. In the meantime, the Handbook will be the main resource for candidates and for those who are supporting them in their pursuit of the CFAA designation.
State associations will play a significant role by continuing to help their members learn about Title IV aid and their responsibilities as financial aid administrators. This will be especially important in helping CFAAs to recertify the designation every three years, which will require CFAAs to earn points through ongoing participation in various professional development and leadership activities. These activities include, but are not limited to, attendance at Title IV aid-related conferences, instruction or participation at an institute or Authorized Event workshop, and elected leadership experience at the state and regional level.
Your association can support your members who are interested in becoming CFAAs in several crucially important ways: by continuing to provide excellent Title IV aid-related training, by welcoming and mentoring new members to the profession, and by helping to build awareness of this new opportunity for financial aid professionals to earn the recognition they deserve.

Publication Date: 3/5/2019

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