Professional Credentials FAQs

NASFAA Staff has compiled these frequently asked questions regarding NASFAA's Professional Credentials. If you have any additional questions that are not answered below, please let us know by emailing credential@nasfaa.org

 

How can I qualify to take a NASFAA Professional Credential Test? 

Financial aid professionals can qualify to sit for a credential test in the following ways:

What does a Professional Credential test entail and what is the passing score?

All professional credential tests contain a range of 45-55 multiple choice questions, some of which are scenario-based. Each test must be completed within 90 minutes. After you complete a test, the system lets you know whether you passed or not. All scores are confidential; instead, a Diagnostic Report will show how you did in each subject area of that test.

If you pass the test, you can download and print the certificate attesting to your achievement. The certificate is available within the online testing center. 

Is there a testing window in which I must complete the credential test? 

When you purchase or download the credential test, you will automatically receive TWO attempts to take the test. NASFAA policy states credential tests must be completed within 40 calendar days of the test purchase date. The second attempt, if necessary, also must be used within the same 40-day testing window. If you do not pass either attempt, additional attempts are available for purchase. To request a testing period extension, please review our Exam Extension Appeal Policy

Are pre-tests available?

To help prepare for the credential test, short test previews are available for each test, free of charge. Test previews illustrate the content areas that will be assessed on the test and provide a few interactive sample test questions.

Are the credential tests open-book? 

You are allowed to reference materials during the credential test, but reliance on such materials may result in expiration of the limited time (90 minutes) granted to complete the test. 

How am I recognized if I earn a Professional Credential? 

Your name will be added to the Credential Earner Honor Roll, which is updated weekly. You also will be able to download and print a certificate directly from the testing center. 

Can I renew my credential(s)? 

Yes! NASFAA now offers credentialed professionals the opportunity to renew each credential by successfully passing the current version of the credential test for that subject area. You may purchase the current version of the test or use a voucher, if you have one. 

We recommend renewing credentials every three years, or more often in the event of major regulatory changes. Renewal is not mandatory; NASFAA Professional Credentials do not expire. Renewal recognizes your additional effort and demonstrates your knowledge remains current and relevant.

If you are a CFAA, you also will earn recertification points (RPs) for each unique credential topic you successfully renew during your recertification period (limited to one renewal per topic during the same three-year recertification period). 

How much do the Professional Credential tests cost?

The tests cost $99 for members and non-members. Some online courses and other training events include a discount or complimentary testing opportunity; refer to the information for that course or event to determine if that is being offered.

Please be sure to read the Important Notices and Disclosures before purchasing a credential test.

Can I use authorized event vouchers for complimentary access to the credential renewal tests? 

Yes, you can use unexpired authorized event vouchers for all versions of the credential tests, original attempts, re-tests (if necessary), and renewals. 

What is the difference between NASFAA Professional Credentials, the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® (CFAA) Program, and NASFAA U Certificates?

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

NASFAA Professional Credentials cover specific 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 do not expire, but they are renewable. Given the rapidly changing nature of this profession, continued training and renewal is strongly encouraged. Credentials serve as a starting place for new financial aid administrators, and also serve as great refreshers for more experienced professionals looking to strengthen their knowledge.

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

Those who earn a Professional Credential are added to the NASFAA Credential Earners Honor Roll. Credential renewals also are reflected on the 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 Professional Credential tests, which are specific to certain subject areas, the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam assesses the broader knowledge required of a financial aid administrator across multiple subject areas. Professional Credentials may serve as a pathway to the certification, as well as a means of maintaining the certified designation.

The CFAA Program application verifies the candidate meets the criteria — that is, the education, experience, and commitment to ethical behavior — necessary to gain access to the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam. Once certified, the certified FAA 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 are recognized by being listed on the Certified Financial Aid Administrator®  Registry.

NASFAA U Certificates are aimed at expanding managerial, leadership, and other competencies associated with financial aid administration and related student services professions that rely on student financial aid. This opportunity goes beyond the regulatory nature of NASFAA's Professional Credentials and the CFAA Program. 

To earn a certificate, you must successfully complete the required components of the associated online course. Unlike Professional Credentials, there is no additional testing beyond the course itself because the assessment component occurs directly in the course.

NASFAA U Certificates do not expire, and do not require candidates to meet continuing education requirements. If you choose, you may renew a certificate to support your ongoing professional development needs. These certificates also qualify for CFAA Recertification Points (RPs). 

The chart below depicts the differences among these professional development opportunities.

 

Certified Financial Aid Administrator® (CFAA) Program 

Professional Credentials

*NEW* NASFAA U Certificates

Focus

The Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam assesses the broader knowledge required of a financial aid administrator across multiple subject areas.

Professional Credentials are a deep dive into regulatory areas associated with the administration of Title IV Aid.

NASFAA U Certificates are professional development opportunities aimed at expanding managerial, leadership, and other competencies associated with financial aid administration and related student services professions that rely on student financial aid.

Pathways

The CFAA Program application verifies you meet the eligibility criteria — that is, the education, experience, and commitment to ethical behavior — necessary to qualify  to take the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam.

Any of four possible pathways help you gain access to a specific credential test: 

(1) Complete independent study of the topic using a Self-Study Guide; (2) Successfully complete the instructor-led NASFAA U Online Course for the topic; (3) Demonstrate five or more years of well-rounded professional experience; or (4) Attend a NASFAA AE that uses the approved NASFAA curriculum for the credential topic.

Open. There are no prerequisites to take the instructor-led online courses associated with NASFAA U Certificates.

Assessment

To become certified, you must qualify for and pass the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam.

To earn a credential, you must pass the corresponding credential test.

To earn a certificate, you must successfully complete and pass the online course for the certificate offered.  

Continuing Education Requirement

Certified individuals must recertify every three years, which requires accumulating recertification points by completing various professional development activities.

None. If you choose, you may renew any of your Professional Credentials to demonstrate continued competency despite regulatory changes over time.

None. If you choose, you may renew any of your NASFAA U Certificates to support your ongoing professional development needs.

 

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