Financial Aid SpecialistJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Financial aid specialists work for colleges or universities where they review and evaluate the applications for financial aid from students and prospective students and make determinations on eligibility status based on requirements. They track all applications and provide timely delivery of information, services, and funding to students. They educate applicants on financial aid programs, application procedures, award packaging, and keep them informed on financial aid progress. They also request renewal and correction applications and validate student enrollment and academic progress to ensure eligibility for financial aid. 

Financial aid specialists may prepare and give financial aid workshops and presentations to students and prospective students. As such, excellent presentation and communication skills are required. They need to stay current on emerging trends and new legislation relating to financial aid, as well as adhere to industry best practices. Financial aid specialists must be organized, be able to prioritize and multitask, and be able to develop strong working relationships with students, employees, and the public. Familiarity with various computer applications and reporting tools, including Microsoft Access and Excel, is required. Financial aid specialists should also have the ability to work independently or with a team and must be conscious of handling sensitive and confidential data.

Sample job description #1

Job responsibilities include

  • Responsible in the coordination and administration of the Federal Direct PLUS and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan programs with emphasis on establishing eligibility, awarding of loans, and monitoring of the origination process. Will maintain to be informed of all Federal, State, and institutional policies and regulations governing the administration
  • Acts as liaison between students, parents, Department of Education, and Federal loan services in addressing and resolving any issues related to the awarding, processing and/or disbursement of the loans. This position will also monitor and update the Department of Education of any changes in award eligibility
  • Advises and counsels students and parents regarding the financial aid process. Analyzes and evaluates student’s financial needs. Advises on availability and sources of financial assistance including Pell Grant, Campus-based aid, Stafford loan, scholarships, and other programs. Interprets to students the policies, the processes, and the regulations
  • Participates in outreach activities and presentation of financial aid information to groups of students, parents, high school counselors, and/or the general public in workshop or training sessions
  • Attends professional workshops, meetings, and training sessions to assure adequate professional development and keep abreast of current rules and regulations
  • Some evening and weekend hours may be required
  • Performs other appropriate duties as assigned

Minimum qualifications

High School Diploma or Equivalent and 0+ years of relevant experience.

Preferred qualifications

  • Ability to communicate effectively, verbally and in writing
  • Ability to counsel and advise students
  • Knowledge of basic financial aid program requirements
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with others
  • Knowledge of basic keyboard skills

Sample job description #2

Essential job functions

  • Provides complete and accurate financial aid counseling to students and families interested in applying for all financial aid programs administered by the University
  • Provides complete and accurate information on various payment plans and financing options to students and families
  • Assists in the processing of all federal and private loans and all entrance and exit counseling activities for borrowers
  • Coordinates the federal work study and campus employment programs
  • Co-manages the endowment/funded/perpetual scholarship programs
  • Manages the tuition remission/tuition exchange programs
  • Assists the Director in awarding and processing financial aid awards to students, including federal needs analysis and verification
  • Conducts presentations for on and off campus activities when needed
  • Provides prompt quality customer service to all constituents
  • Other duties as assigned
  • Reliable attendance is an on-going essential job function

Experience needed

  • Preferred minimum three years of experience working with federal and state regulations and/or college financial aid or equivalent combination
  • Experience working with financial aid software, Anthology preferred
  • Familiarity with IRS documentation

Education, licensure and certification needed

  • Bachelor’s degree in related area
  • NASFAA Financial Aid credentialing is a plus, but not required

Skills and abilities needed

  • High level of energy and enthusiasm for their work
  • Positive attitude and strong work ethic
  • Ability to be flexible and function efficiently in a fast-paced environment
  • Ability to take the initiative, work as a team member, and/or independently as needed
  • Demonstrated excellence in interpersonal skills and customer service
  • The position requires excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office and other software programs and applications
  • Willingness to participate in on-going professional financial aid training activities required.
  • Ability to collaborate with university colleagues with the shared goals of institutional success, service to students, and program integrity

Sample job description #3

Duties and accountabilities

  • Negotiates payment or payment plans of all current and past due accounts by direct telephone and written correspondence
  • Initiates correspondence regarding delinquency status, as well as updates student account information
  • Monitor and track private loan balance report
  • Identifies and monitors potential problem student accounts
  • Assists schools with the AR management process to ensure timely recovery of payments and maintain appropriate accounts receivable levels
  • Researches, resolves, corrects, and prevents invoice discrepancies by active interaction with student and other appropriate staff/departments
  • Researches and mails credit memos and duplicate payment letters
  • Researches and resolves all short payments within educational compliance, departmental policies and procedures
  • Performs detailed account reconciliations as needed to resolve complex disputed receivable issues
  • Communicates status of account problems on a regular basis
  • Prepares weekly balance reports to monitor cash flow
  • Process payments received directly to Group Office
  • Assists the Bursar’s office with projects as needed
  • Performs other related duties as assigned by Associate Director of Student Accounts

Specialist qualifications

  • High School Diploma / Associate’s degree (A. A.) Preferred
  • Minimum of 3 years experience in collections (in an education environment preferred)
  • Strong Computer Skills (Microsoft Excel and MacBook) Microsoft office suite plus
  • Ability to prepare reports and business correspondence. Effectively turn numbers/data into usable data information
  • Versatility, flexibility, and a willingness to work within constantly changing priorities with enthusiasm

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a Financial Aid Specialist is $40,800 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$40,600$54,900 
Los Angeles, California$45,800$61,950
Denver, Colorado$38,150 $51,600 
Washington, DC$46,450$62,850
Miami, Florida$38,000 $51,400 
Orlando, Florida$35,050 $47,400 
Tampa, Florida$35,350 $47,850 
Atlanta, Georgia$37,100$50,200 
Chicago, Illinois$42,650 $57,700 
Boston, Massachusetts$46,100 $62,400 
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$36,750 $49,750 
New York City, New York$48,550 $65,700 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$39,550 $53,500 
Dallas, Texas$38,500 $52,100 
Houston, Texas$38,150 $51,600 
Seattle, Washington$44,400$60,050 
National Average$34,700 $46,900 

Sample interview questions

  • How would you deal with a challenging financial case? Can you give an example of a past experience?
  • What are the keys to success when interacting with students and their parents?
  •  Can you give an example of a time when you went above and beyond to deliver exceptional customer service?
  • What does discretion mean to you? 
  • Describe a typical day at your current or previous job.
  • What is the most challenging aspect of being a financial aid specialist? How do you manage this?
  • How do you prioritize your work when responding to multiple requests simultaneously?
  • What is the most difficult part of providing excellent customer service?
  • What motivates you?
  • How familiar are you with MS Office?

Financial Aid Specialist Jobs in Ashburn

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