Over Half of Financial Aid Professionals Likely to Seek New Employment in the Next Year

A new report suggests institutions of higher education must do more to improve overall retention in the financial aid office, as well as representation of people of color.  

Contact: Allie Arcese
Director of Communications
(202) 785-6954
[email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 8, 2024 — In a report released today, the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) found that more than half of financial aid professionals said they would be likely to look for new employment in the next 12 months — an urge largely driven by pay and workplace flexibility. 

The report, most of which draws on the responses of 6,073 financial aid employees reported by 956 institutions in CUPA-HR’s higher education workforce surveys, provides a detailed look into a profession that in recent years has been plagued by staffing shortages, employee turnover, and unprecedented challenges in the face of a chaotic rollout of this year’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

“If we’ve learned anything from this last year, it’s just how critical financial aid administrators are to ensuring students can access postsecondary education,” said NASFAA President & CEO Justin Draeger. “Financial aid professionals are a vital part of the campus ecosystem, keeping students on track to graduate, ensuring the right taxpayer and donor dollars are going to the right students, and maintaining institutional eligibility for federal and state funds, and it’s equally vital they are recognized and fairly compensated for that work.”

Other main findings in the report include: 

  • Median salary is generally higher at institutions that process more FAFSA applications. With few exceptions, the higher the FAFSA application quartile, the higher the median salary for financial aid positions. Some of the differences are quite substantial. Chief student financial aid officers at 4th quartile institutions, for example, are paid 1.6 times what their peers at 1st quartile institutions are paid. 

  • Financial aid offices are larger at institutions that process more FAFSA applications. At each increase in FAFSA application quartile, the median number of student financial aid counselors per institution doubles, or nearly doubles. Institutions within the 4th quartile for FAFSA applications have 7 times as many student financial aid counselors than institutions within the 1st quartile.

  • As the level of financial aid position increases, the representation of people of color decreases. The representation of people of color is almost twice as high among student financial aid counselors (37%) than among chief student financial aid officers (19%).

The report offers several recommendations for institutions of higher education to improve retention and representation of people of color within the financial aid pipeline, and to improve pay equity within the profession, such as by examining whether their financial aid office is adequately staffed, conducting an internal pay equity analysis of financial aid positions, and considering how to improve processes for recruiting and retaining people of color in the financial aid office.



The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 29,000 financial aid professionals at approximately 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators.

Publication Date: 5/8/2024

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