By: Robert “Bob” Covey-Robbins, Sr. Consultant
How much training is enough for a financial aid office? How often do we need to provide updated training to staff? One of the top concerns that we often hear from financial aid staff is that they don’t get enough training.
Consistent and Comprehensive Training.
Financial aid training is not a “one-and-done” endeavor. It requires a consistent effort to stay up to date on financial aid policy. In 2022, just looking at federal sources, there were 86 Federal Registers, 24 U.S. Department of Education Dear Colleague Letters, and 196 Department of Education Electronic Announcements, all related to the administration of Title IV Student Financial Aid programs. If a school doesn’t have a training program to share all these updates with appropriate staff, then there are likely compliance gaps in existence that could result in significant risk.
Depending on a school’s size and level of automation, some functions within a financial aid office may be somewhat specialized with staff having specific programmatic or functional oversight. It’s important, however, that program expertise is not siloed to the point that when an individual becomes unavailable their program cannot continue. Cross-training and sharing of responsibilities is a good insurance policy against silo risk.
Training can also be a key element in succession planning. If recruiting efforts don’t always produce the experienced financial aid professional that was sought, a school may have to change its strategy to recruit someone who has the right basic skills and train them on the financial aid programs.
Combating Staffing Shortages.
Many schools are dealing with staff shortages and difficulty in filling vacant positions. This has been particularly true since the “Great Resignation” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic began. However, it’s not a brand-new situation. Recruiting and retaining qualified staff for financial aid, business offices, and other student service departments is continually a concern for schools.
Coming up with a salary and benefits package that will attract the ideal candidate who is positive, fast-thinking, detail-oriented, problem-solving, knowledgeable of an amazingly complex set of federal, state, and institutional laws, regulations, policies, procedures, and practices, and consistently delivers world-class student service, while continually collaborating with and building successful working relationships with other administrators, faculty, staff, and the public in general, is challenging, to say the least.
If a school doesn’t have a person who is tasked with coordinating, preparing, and delivering training, then it may need to look externally for the training that is needed. FAS understands the importance of consistent and updated training for financial aid staff, especially in the face of constantly changing policies and regulations. We help institutions stay up-to-date with financial aid best practices.
Is your Financial aid office feeling the effects of staff shortages? Our services are designed to create systems and processes to assist with routine training and updates, ensuring that your financial aid office operations run smoothly. Learn more about how we can help your financial aid office stay compliant and up-to-date with the latest regulations and compliance requirements. Contact Us.