NASFAA Mention: Opinion: The Pros and Cons of Professional Judgment

"On Oct. 1, students and families across the country began using their 2019 tax information to start filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the fall of 2021, which institutions will use to calculate how much financial aid students are eligible for ahead of the admission cycle," Inside Higher Ed reports. 

..."We also note that the lack of uniformity in institutional policies -- which vary greatly and often leave decisions up to financial aid officers -- raises questions about how subjective and susceptible to bias professional judgments might be, especially since not much is known about the people making these decisions or the required training they receive. The U.S. Department of Education does not provide public data on financial aid officers that is disaggregated by race or gender, and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) -- a membership organization that provides professional development opportunities and training to financial aid representatives -- does not share demographic data on its 28,000 professional members with the public.

What’s more, neither the Department of Education nor NASFAA has set racial equity benchmarks for financial aid professionals to meet. According to financial aid experts whom we spoke with, while NASFAA offers voluntary workshops on topics such as microaggressions and mitigating bias, the Department of Education had no training sessions on racial justice, diversity, equity or inclusion at its 2018 and 2019 national conferences. Such a situation presents problems, since some financial aid policies and practices are built around the flawed notion of colorblindness, which can perpetuate white privilege and disparate treatment by race."

..."For practitioners, we recommend they follow the NASFAA best practices when applying professional judgment, which means using the income that best reflects a student’s current financial situation and not overburdening applicants with requests for more information than is necessary."

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 1/13/2021

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