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Short Title

Certification of Financial Aid Administrators

Abstract

Financial aid administrators administer various aspects of financial assistance programs; oversee, direct, coordinate, evaluate, and provide training for program activities and the personnel who manage office operations and supervise support staff; and ensure alignment of student and institutional needs while protecting the public interest. They have long recognized the value of professional standards in this complex field. This study uses Peterson’s (2011) professionalization theory, 2010 archival data, analyses of variance, and risk estimation to examine the need for, benefits of, and level of support for certification, credentialing, and establishing basic core standards for financial aid practitioners. Among 2,756 survey respondents, 72% agreed with the need for basic core standards; 82% agreed professionalization would increase the stature of and respect for the occupation; and 79% agreed to support a process if adopted. A voluntary process, mandatory basic training, a recognized financial aid curriculum, and a phase-in period for current practitioners were the components agreed on most (ICCA = .98, a2 = .01). With an item reliability index of alpha = .91 (p = .001) and a margin of error of ± 1.75% at the 95% confidence level, the results indicate financial aid administrators want to move forward with certification, credentialing, and setting standards.

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