Financial Aid Specialist Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Financial Aid Specialist Do?

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 are responsible for requesting renewal and correcting applications as well as validating 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. Due to this, excellent presentation and communication skills are usually required. They need to stay current on emerging trends and new legislation relating to financial aid, and 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 software applications and reporting tools, including Microsoft Access and Excel, is often required. Since they are charged with handling sensitive and confidential data financial aid specialists must be extremely responsible and professional.

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National Average Salary

Financial aid specialist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Financial Aid Specialist is:


Financial Aid Specialist Job Descriptions

It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a financial aid specialist. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.

Example 1

We’re searching for an experienced financial aid specialist to join our team. The financial aid specialist is assigned to the day-to-day technical duties of the Financial Aid Department including awarding federal and state aid. This critical position needs someone with good problem-solving skills who is a team player, all the while maintaining a professional and positive attitude. Financial Aid Specialists have high technical knowledge of financial aid programs and procedures to independently assist students using a variety of mediums. As an ideal candidate, you have proven experience working in the financial aid department of a college or university, reviewing, verifying, and analyzing financial aid applications and documents to determine the type and amount of financial aid available to students

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Provides financial aid program information to students, including application procedures, award packaging, and financial aid academic progress 
  • Processes applications and other documents for student financial aid eligibility 
  • Verifies files for high school and college transcripts
  • Initiates requisitions for financial aid disbursements to students
  • Receives, evaluates, and verifies financial aid data and documents submitted by students
  • Calculates student needs and adjusts financial aid as necessary 
  • Submits initial, renewal, and correction applications 
  • Certifies student enrollment, ensuring adherence to academic progress policies and eligibility requirements
  • Participates in financial aid workshops and presentations
  • Assists students and prospective students regarding eligibility requirements of financial aid
  • Maintains awareness of best practices, emerging trends, and new legislation relating to financial aid 
  • Maintains student financial aid data in online computer systems or other systems
  • Compiles federal, state, and institutional financial aid expenditure reports
  • Interacts with other departments, such as Admissions and Student Records, Financial Services, and Student Affairs as needed

Education and experience

  •  Associate’s degree 
  • 3+ years of experience working in the financial aid functional area in a college or university setting 

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Working knowledge of financial aid eligibility requirements and programs
  • Good organizational skills
  • Proficiency with a variety of computer applications and reporting tools, including Microsoft Access and Excel
  • Excellent customer service skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Bilingual in English-Spanish
  • Bachelor’s degree

Example 2

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

Example 3


  • 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

Example 4

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

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • NASFAA Certified Financial Aid Administrator. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) offers the Certified Financial Aid Administrator certification, which validates competencies essential to effective financial aid administration and provides candidates with an increased opportunity for career growth. There are several paths to eligibility, all of which include having a bachelor’s degree or higher, some level of experience, and prior NASFAA credentials. Candidates must then pass the exam to obtain certification. The designation is valid for three years and must be renewed by completing 60 recertification points.
  • Certified College Funding Specialist (CCFS). Administered by the Association of Certified College Funding Specialists (ACCFS), this designation demonstrates a candidate’s competency in the role of a college funding specialist. Topics include code of ethics, admissions, financial aid basics, financial aid formulas, financial aid assets, and sources of financial aid. 
  • EDUCATION LOAN ANALYST (ELA). The ELA is a continuing education course, designed for Certified College Funding Specialists who want to achieve a more in-depth knowledge of the student loan system and how it works. Candidates will gain in-depth knowledge of education loans and the financial aid system, the types of federal education loans, federal loan repayments plans, and consolidating education loans, among other topics.

Sample Interview Questions

  • Do you have any experience administering financial aid?
  • Do you stay up-to-date on the latest financial aid regulations?
  • What steps do you take to maintain the confidentiality of student information?
  • What are the different types of financial aid available to students?
  • What are the criteria for determining a student’s eligibility for financial aid?
  • Is there a time when you had to resolve a difficult financial aid situation?
  • What do you do to prioritize your workload during busy times, such as the beginning of the academic year?
  • What are the best ways to explain financial aid to students and families?
  • To ensure that students receive the financial aid they need, how do you work with other departments, such as admissions or academic advising?
  • Would you mind explaining how you ensure a diverse student population receives financial aid fairly and equitably?

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