Findings from NASFAA’s Survey of College Presidents, 8:30 - 9:30 am

By Erin Timmons, Communications Staff

Do you know what your college president thinks of your financial aid office operations and your staff? In this Tuesday morning session, presenters shared with attendees the findings from recent research done on college and university presidents' perceptions of the financial aid office and its administrators. The data, gathered in early 2016 from an in-person focus group and a national online survey, provides a glimpse into the understanding and satisfaction level presidents have with the financial aid offices on their campuses.

Phase one of the research was a focus group with five college presidents, conducted during the American Council on Education’s Annual Meeting. “We did this focus group to be a first exploratory step in our research,” explained Karli Susi, Managing Consultant at McKinley Advisors, the company retained to help with the research. Findings from the focus groups were used to help inform the creation and direction of the electronic survey.

Phase two, a survey designed by McKinley Advisors with input from the NASFAA staff and Board of Directors, was distributed to 2,370 college presidents and received 205 responses. “We were excited to see that this many college presidents responded,” said Charlotte Etier, NASFAA’s Senior Research Analyst & Grant Manager, noting that the presidents who participated represented a fairly diverse range of types of schools and regional areas.

College presidents in the focus group shared that they felt financial aid administrators were crucial to supporting the mission of the institution, and that financial aid professionals play an important role both in student and family outreach, and in internal coordination.

“Overall we learned that presidents are very satisfied with the work financial aid administrators are doing,” Susi told session attendees, however the focus group participants did identify some pertinent challenges related to the financial aid office. Topping the list were concerns about the degree of difficulty in filling the talent “pipeline” of financial aid professionals with those who would go on to become directors and leaders, and the issue of growing segmentation of offices within institutions.

Informed by the input received during the focus group, the survey sought to determine how presidents saw financial aid administrators and determined that they view them as approachable, professional, and as problem-solvers. Other key findings from the survey include:

  • College presidents overall felt that the most important function of a financial aid administrator is to act as a “technical partner that administers financial aid and ensures compliance with regulations.”
  • College presidents from non-academic backgrounds were more receptive to receiving information related to financial aid, including best practices in how financial aid offices can interact with and directly support students, information/training on the college president’s role in a successful financial aid program, and resources for improving the flow of information between financial aid departments and other institutional departments.
  • College presidents are extremely interested in receiving additional information on how to improve the relationship between, and the function of their financial aid departments, with 90 percent of respondents indicating an interest in receiving resources via email. 

The report was presented late last week to NASFAA’s Board of Directors and will likely be published in the fall. Keep an eye on Today’s News for a link to the report once published.


Publication Date: 7/12/2016

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