Staffing Shortages in Financial Aid Offices Reach Critical Levels Amid Pandemic

NASFAA survey shows aid offices are concerned about future ability to remain administratively capable and adequately serve students.

Contact: Allie Arcese
Managing Editor
(202) 785-6954
[email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 24, 2022—Faced with wage stagnation, rising inflation, and dissatisfaction with current working conditions, the United States economy has seen workers leave their jobs in large numbers over the past two years — and the financial aid office is no exception. In fact, aid offices have long reported challenges with employee retention and hiring, a struggle that has only intensified during the global pandemic.

To learn exactly how the pandemic has affected financial aid staffing, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) in March and May 2022 conducted two brief online surveys of NASFAA member institutions. The results of both surveys, released today, paint a grim picture of a once-manageable hardship that has grown into a crisis for many financial aid offices that are struggling to remain in compliance with federal regulations and meet the needs of students.

"We are sounding the alarm bells that many financial aid offices are critically short staffed, which could create cascading issues for those colleges and universities, both in their ability to adequately serve students while also remaining compliant with federal and state rules," said NASFAA President Justin Draeger.

Of the more than 500 institutions that responded to the initial survey, nearly 80% voiced concern about their ability to be administratively capable in the future, while more than half (56%) said they are concerned about their ability to adequately serve students with current staffing levels.  

Additionally, the surveys found that: 

  • Half of respondents to the original survey reported operating at a 75% staffing capacity for award years 2019-20 and 2020-21. 
  • Fifty-six percent of respondents to the second survey reported that they were operating at a reduced staffing capacity and thus did not have time to complete the original survey.
  • Permanent, full-time employees cited three main reasons for transferring or resigning as reported by respondents: a higher salary or better benefits (69%), no longer having the desire to work in financial aid (35%), and moving to a different office at the same institution (29%).
  • An overwhelming majority of aid offices (86%) reported not receiving enough qualified job applications. 
  • The large majority of those (67%) felt it was squarely an issue of salary restrictions that made the job uncompetitive. 

"College presidents have a lot on their plate, and while they are often rushing from fire to fire, this is one area that should not be overlooked," Draeger said. "Chronic understaffing will increase the odds of potential fines and liabilities for noncompliance with federal and state rules down the road, and even more importantly, likely means students will face reduced service." 

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson on the results of the survey, please email [email protected].


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 32,000 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, DC, NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit

Publication Date: 5/24/2022

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