Author Guidelines

Author Guidelines


General Submission Rules

Submitted articles cannot have been previously published, nor be forthcoming in an archival journal or book (print or electronic). Please note: "publication" in a working-paper series does not constitute prior publication. In addition, by submitting material to Journal of Student Financial Aid, the author is stipulating that the material is not currently under review at another journal (electronic or print) and that he or she will not submit the material to another journal (electronic or print) until the completion of the editorial decision process at Journal of Student Financial Aid. If you have concerns about the submission terms for Journal of Student Financial Aid, please contact the editors.

Authors should present their material in clear and concise language appropriate for the general reader as well as financial aid administrators. The presentation and development of the article should be orderly, avoiding irrelevancies and wordiness. Whenever possible, authors should avoid the use of passive voice. Generally, articles are structured into segments with headings that suggest the logical progression from introduction to conclusion. Headings reflect the manuscript’s organization and denote the relative importance of each topic.

Content Guidelines

The Journal of Student Financial Aid (JSFA) publishes research articles, issue articles, and book reviews. All submissions, regardless of type must conclude with a section titled 'Implications for Practice.' In this section, the author is asked to distill the body of work into practical, concise, and specific recommendations for practicing financial aid administrators. This is essential to the mission of the Journal.

Research Articles

Research Articles (not to exceed 10,000 words or about 30 pages generally)

A research article should begin with an introductory statement of purpose, which does not have a heading. It should proceed with a discussion of recent and related research, followed by a presentation of the methodology. The author should then present an analysis of the evidence, followed by conclusions and implications directly related to the evidence.

Issue Articles

Issue Articles (not to exceed 5,000 words or about 15 pages generally) An issue article should address a position or a perspective on a student aid policy or topic. The headings should reflect the organization of the article. The author presents the issue in the introduction, which is not headed. Unlike the components of a research article, the sections of an issue article should be arranged by relationship. The sections should display the perspectives of others, the evidence and logical argument, and positive and negative implications. The conclusion should suggest next steps or otherwise finalize what has been introduced and argued earlier.

Book Reviews

Book Reviews (not to exceed 1,500 words or about 5 pages generally) Scholarly book reviews on related topics critically examine the purpose, thesis, contentions, and methods of analysis; they do not just summarize the book’s contents. Written in 1,500 words or less, book reviews evaluate the author’s presentation of ideas while providing commentary on the book’s contribution to the understanding of student aid and access. Strong book reviews present a discussion of the main ideas, types of sources and methods used, compelling points or shortcomings, and how the book adds or changes current knowledge or discussions on student aid and access.

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Nexus Section

JSFA is a practitioner-oriented journal. All submissions should speak to issues of financial aid practice in some form or fashion. To this end, every submission must include a concluding section with the heading ‘Nexus’ in which the author lists 2-4 practice-oriented implications of the research. Please refer to prior issues for example.

Formatting Guidelines


Questions of style should be referred to the 6th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA). Although APA style has been historically oriented toward research, the APA stresses the adaptability of the style to more theoretical manuscripts. Manuscripts must adhere to APA style.

All text, including indented material and references, should be double-spaced and generally no longer than the guidelines referenced above (including tables, figures, and references). The title of the article should appear at the top of the first page of text.


Footnotes are generally avoided because they distract the reader. Reference citations are never footnoted, but are included in a reference list. Whenever possible, information germane to an article should be integrated within the text. Necessary supporting documentation may be included as an appendix. Table notes, author identification notes, and copyright permission footnotes are acceptable and are addressed in the APA Publication Manual.

Statistics, Charts, and Graphs

All tables, charts, and graphs should be included at the end of the article and place holders for the location of those tables, charts, and graphs should be indicated in the paper (i.e., “Insert Table 1 here”). In addition, values that are used to create tables, graphs, and charts must be submitted in an Excel file. Figures and tables must be clear, comprehensible, and used only when they add to the presentation or when they reduce the need for a lengthy discussion in the manuscript. Particularly complex research (including statistical terminology) should be explained in an understandable way for readers not fully acquainted with research methodology and analysis.


All references cited in the text must follow APA format and should be listed alphabetically by author in a reference list at the end of the article. Since this list must allow the reader to locate the works cited, the reference data must be correct and contain all of the details necessary for identification and library research. Reference materials not readily available to readers (unpublished works, papers presented at meetings, work in progress) should be cited only when they are essential to the article. They must be included in the reference list. As much information as possible should be noted, following the APA style, including: author, title, date, address from which material may be obtained, and whatever information is necessary to explain the source (for example, “Paper presented at the...”).

For additional details on submission steps, acknowledging sources, typesetting and layout requirements pertaining to final manuscript submission, please review How to Submit.

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