Check Out These Resources for New Financial Aid Professionals

ScholarNet Blog Articles | July 21, 2020

New financial aid administrators need to learn a lot to get up to speed. ScholarNet recommends resources you can share with them.

Working as a financial aid administrator means conquering a large learning curve in order to fully understand everything in this field – and then it means continual learning after that. We’ve recommended some resources to help get new financial aid professional in your office up to speed.

First, a note: sharing your college or university’s regulations and policies with new staff, and providing comprehensive onboarding that includes your best practices for working with students and families is one of the most important things you’ll do. While everything else in your office may seem to shift weekly or even daily, your guidance and coaching to ensure consistent, respectful, considerate, and fair treatment of students and families will be the one thing that remains the same.

Next, your new staff member will need to learn the basics. Here are some resources you can point new staff to in order to help them get up to speed.

Federal Regulations and Resources

Since some of the most challenging aspects of working in financial aid relate to federal regulations from the U.S. Department of Education (ED), it’s fitting that ED provides some helpful resources for the financial aid offices that work with students and families. This is also one of the areas where things can change frequently, so it’s important to know where to go for important updates about policies, regulations, and programs.

Information for Financial Aid Professionals Website – One resource new financial aid professionals will want to be familiar with is the Information for Financial Aid Professionals (IFAP) website. This site includes important electronic announcements from ED about various topics, information pages, hot topics, worksheets, schedules, and tables, publications, Dear Colleague Letters, recent handbooks, and more. On the Tools for Schools page, you’ll find additional links to a Net Price Calculator, conference presentations, trainings, FAFSA social media tools, and more. One very useful IFAP resource that can be found on this page is Financial Literacy Guidance from Federal Student Aid, an eight-page comprehensive overview of the financial aid process that is equally helpful to new financial aid professionals and the students and families they serve.

Financial Aid Toolkit – Provided by ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), the Financial Aid Toolkit has a helpful search function that allows users to search for resources by type of resource, audience, and topic. New financial aid professionals will find screenshots of many of the processes experienced by students and families, such as applying for financial aid, receiving award letters, etc., so that they can provide more effective counseling. Your new staff members can use these screenshots in their own presentations. This is also a great place to learn about trainings offered by FSA, or by state agencies and nongovernment organizations, or to find additional curriculum materials and resources for trainers.

FSA Trainings – At fsatraining.ed.gov, anyone in your financial aid office can learn about all the trainings FSA offers to new professionals as well as those with more financial aid experience. You’ll find out about each learning track and access webinars and recordings, systems and software training, and track training on your dashboard. To access the FSA E-Training Website, you’ll need to create an account.

Private Student Loans

When it comes to private student loans, the ScholarNet team has your back. From decades of working in higher education and financial aid, we’re also very familiar with federal student aid – and we’re experts when it comes to private student loans and processing them efficiently and accurately. With FastChoiceTM and ScholarNetR, we streamline the processing of private student loans, creating an easy loan selection process for you and your students, and fast, accurate automated loan certification and disbursement. When a new staff member starts, ScholarNet solutions will make private loan processing easy for them. With most having decades of expertise working with ScholarNet and higher education, your rep and the Client Services team are equipped and more than happy to talk through any questions they have.

Our webinars – ScholarNet and FastChoice Features and Functionality sessions – are interactive sessions led by our reps to help your new financial aid team members get familiar with things right away. We’ll also keep you and all of your staff informed of important changes in financial aid through website resources, our e-newsletter, and LinkedIn.

There’s always something new to learn when it comes to working in financial aid. That can be challenging – but there are many resources to rely on within this tight-knit community. Count your ScholarNet team among them!