Research Meets Practice

Findings From a Collaboration Between NASFAA and the Association for the Study of Higher Education

Research Meets PracticeBeginning in fall 2014, a working group composed of representatives from NASFAA and the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) embarked on a yearlong effort to identify and examine ways to make financial aid research more relevant to financial aid practitioners. To inform our recommendations, we surveyed NASFAA members, reviewed the research literature on financial aid, and facilitated a number of focus groups across the country.

This report presents the findings from the outlined work above along with recommendations for how research can better inform the practice of financial aid administration. In addition to our recommendations, this study identified three main themes as a result of the feedback from, and conversations with, financial aid administrators. The themes are as follows:

  • Researchers should aim to make findings simple and digestible and make research accessible to practitioners to help communication between research and practice flow more efficiently and effectively.
  • Researchers should conduct studies that encourage the implementation of more effective and realistic policy.
  • Financial aid administrators are already pressed for time, so researchers should strive to share and communicate findings in a way that is mindful of these time constraints.

Taken together, these themes contain a general thread of the need for stronger communication between the research community and financial aid practitioners on the front end to determine topics for research and the most desirable form for consumption.

With these themes in mind, we offer the following recommendations to help better facilitate conversations between practitioners and researchers and to ensure that research is both applicable and digestible:

  • Recommendation 1: Survey financial aid administrators annually to identify timely potential research topics on issues that impact their students and offices.
  • Recommendation 2: The academic and financial aid communities should work together to make research results more accessible to those involved in policy making and practice.
  • Recommendation 3: Researchers should increase their focus on producing research that studies and highlights best practices on campuses.

The findings from this study provide an opportunity to better connect the work of academic researchers and the practices of financial aid professionals and the collaboration looks forward to helping our respective members put these policies into practice. 

View the Report

Publication Date: 1/21/2016

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