2017 NASFAA Benchmarking Report

NASFAA has conducted benchmarking surveys of financial aid administrators and offices for more than two decades. This report presents findings from the 2016 NASFAA Benchmarking Survey, which updates the 1995, 1999, 2006, 2012, and 2016 reports. Where possible, this report shows trends in data overtime.

2017 NASFAA Benchmarking ReportThis report, the 2017 NASFAA Benchmarking Report: Key Factors That Impact Financial Aid Office Salaries, Staff Size, Administrative Capacity, and Campus Relations, also provides a description of the Staffing Model and Salary Model that identifies and explains the key factors used to create the models. These models (or calculations) produce a general measure of how much individuals with similar characteristics (e.g., position, years of experience, gender, region) earn or how offices with similar characteristics (e.g., size, institution type, control) are staffed. Details on the individual models may be found below. NASFAA members may access the report and models, free of charge. 

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NASFAA also provides results from our 2017 Benchmarking Report by the following variables:

2017 NASFAA Staffing Model

This model allows you to enter a number of variables that are statistically significant in determining staff size in financial aid offices and generates a custom report that measures your institution's staffing level against other institutions operating in similar circumstances.

Key Findings from the 2017 Benchmarking Report


  • In 2015-16, the overall median salary for financial aid office (FAO) employees was $47,455, a 4% increase from 2014-15.
  • Males now make $4,561 (9 percent) more annually on average than females, as opposed to $11,819 (21 percent) in 2012.
  • Respondents with their first professional degree (J.D., etc.) saw the largest salary change, with a median salary increase of $4,000 from 2012 to 2016.


  • In 2016, the overall average number of aid applicants per institution was 9,164 and aid recipients was 6,151. This represents a 37% increase in applicants and a 35% increase in recipients since 2006.
  • Based on the responses received, the average school has 12 full-time employees, but only 2.5 to serve every 1,000 aid applicants.

Campus Relations

  • Nearly three-fourths of schools indicated their current reporting structure was either "very appropriately" or "appropriately" placed within the institution.
  • Ninety-five percent of FAOs reported providing information about changes in regulatory requirements to other administrators at the institution.

For additional questions about the 2017 Benchmarking Survey Report, Staffing Model, or Salary Model please contact NASFAA's Research Department at [email protected] or (202) 785-7284.

Publication Date: 3/1/2017

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