NASFAA offers a variety of training opportunities for all types of learners, ranging from independent self-study to guided online courses.
Some opportunities offered by NASFAA are purchased at the institutional level while others are at the individual level. This means that for some offerings, once one person from your institution has made a purchase, it is now available to everyone at the same institution. For individual registrations, however, each person must purchase and register separately in order to participate. Webinars are always purchased and registered for at the institutional level, whereas other offerings such as in-person conference attendance, NASFAA's Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Program, and NASFAA U courses are all purchased at the individual level.
NASFAA Professional Credentials, NASFAA certification, NASFAA U Specialist Designation, 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.
NASFAA's certification in financial aid administration 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 certification 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, FAACs 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 FAAC® Registry.
NASFAA U Specialist Designation in the Return of Title IV Funds is reserved for those who can correctly apply the knowledge of the treatment of R2T4 concepts across a variety of challenging scenarios, each involving multiple facets to consider. This designation is very difficult to earn and represents an in-depth knowledge and understanding of R2T4 as a result of hard work and study.
To earn the R2T4 Specialist designation, individuals must:
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 certification 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 Recertification Points (RPs).
The chart below depicts the differences among these professional development opportunities.
|Certified Financial Aid Administrator® (CFAA) Program||NASFAA U Specialist Designation||Professional Credentials||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.||The NASFAA U Specialist designation is reserved for those who can correctly apply the knowledge of the treatment of Title IV aid concepts across a variety of challenging scenarios, each involving multiple facets to consider.||
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.||
To earn the Specialist designation, individuals must:
(1) Complete the corresponding online course with a passing grade of at least 93%; (2) Hold the corresponding NASFAA Credential; and (3) Complete the scenario-based Specialist exam with a passing score.
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 Authorized Event 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 the Specialist designation, you must qualify for and pass the corresponding scenario-based test.||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 Specialist designations to demonstrate continued competency despite regulatory changes over time.
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.
These collaborative learning sessions bring minds and ideas together despite distances. Online courses help you become more proficient, more knowledgeable, and more valuable to your organization, and offer you the opportunity to earn a professional credential from NASFAA.
NASFAA U instructors will guide you through the course and answer questions. Each three- to eight-week course:
No. NASFAA U Online Courses have fixed beginning and ending dates. This is due to the collaborative nature of the course, with frequent interaction between instructors and other participants. There are some aspects of the courses that participants may choose to complete at their own pace; however, there are due dates associated with learning assessments.
Courses range from $299 to $499. Review the prices for each course in the course schedule. Each course has limited seating to ensure that you will receive an effective, collaborative learning environment where participants receive the attention they need, so make sure to register early.
Review more FAQs about NASFAA U Online Courses.
Designed for the self-paced learner, NASFAA Self-Study Guides enable independent study and include quizzes, learning activities, and self-evaluation, delivered in PDF format. Self-Study Guides are updated annually, and can be purchased and downloaded here.
NASFAA U Self-Study Guides start at $109 for members. See the individual topics for member and non-member pricing.
Authorized Training Events are those that use a thorough toolkit of training resources developed by NASFAA available to states and regions in hosting their own training events. If a training event is presented using NASFAA authorized materials, attendees will be provided with a voucher code to gain complimentary access to the corresponding credential test. Check out NASFAA's Events Calendar for upcoming training events in your area.
NASFAA Webinars are live, interactive presentations broadcast online on a specific date and time. Webinars are offered on a wide range of topics. On-Demand Webinars are recordings of the original webinar, allowing you to participate in the training event when it is most convenient for you. With the purchase of a webinar registration, an unlimited number of staff members can view the webinar and download the materials until the stated expiration date, usually one year after the live date of the webcast. Webinars do not qualify attendees to take any corresponding NASFAA U exams, but they do qualify for one Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Recertification Point (RP).
Webinars are $120 for members and $240 for non-members. All live webinars include access to the on-demand version. The on-demand versions may also be purchased separately. Institutions with a Value Plus membership have all webinars included, or institutions can add the Webinar Package.
Please contact NASFAA Membership Services at [email protected] or (202) 785-0453 x 1 to add the Webinar Package to your membership.
Financial aid professionals can qualify to sit for a credential test in the following ways:
All professional credential tests contain a range of 40 to 55 multiple choice questions, some of which are scenario-based. After you complete a test, the system lets you know whether you passed. All scores are confidential, and a diagnostic report will show how you did in each subject area of that test.
To help prepare for the credential test, short test previews are available for each, free of charge. Test previews illustrate the content areas that will be assessed and provide a few interactive sample test questions.
When you purchase or download the credential test, you will automatically receive two attempts to take the test. If you do not pass either attempt, re-tests are available for purchase.
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. To request a testing period extension, please review our Exam Extension Appeal Policy.
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.
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.
What is the NASFAA Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Program?
The Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Program awards the FAAC® designation in financial aid administration, which 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. Candidates must meet eligibility requirements and successfully pass the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam to earn the designation. The FAAC® designation is maintained through the accumulation of 60 Recertification Points (RP) every three years.
Upon approval of your application, you will receive an email notification with a link to pay for the knowledge exam and schedule your exam session. You will have one year from the date your application was approved to take the exam.
Fees are outlined on the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Program Fees web page. Group discounts are not available.
Review more FAQs about the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Program.