Financial aid counselors are responsible for helping students at post-secondary institutions to obtain private and/or government financial aid, grants, and scholarships, as well as provide information regarding available student loans from both private and government institutions.
A bachelor's degree in a relevant field is generally required for this position, and courses in accounting, business, communications, and psychology are beneficial. Financial aid counselors must provide pertinent information regarding financial/educational matters to students and/or their parents. They often meet students/parents in-person or via phone, e-mail, or the "contact" section of their organization's website. Upon request, these counselors may help develop students' budgets and explain loan repayment procedures, as well. Excellent written and oral communications skills are essential, and strong computer skills including proficiency with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) and the particular organizations' computer systems are also required.
Those in this position must be able to maintain computer databases for students' records. They must be friendly and able to work efficiently and objectively with diverse students and coworkers; the ability to speak a second language is useful, but not necessary. They are encouraged to take training and/or workshops conducted by Department of Education and various financial aid associations to further the development of their own careers; the National Association of Student Final Aid Administration (NAFSA) also offers such workshops, training and conferences. Financial aid counselors generally receive on-the-job training, and senior counselors may be required to coach and train new workers.
Financial Aid Counselor (School/College/University) Tasks
Coordinate and administer financial aid appeals.
Package, award, and disburse funds to students.
Assist in the review of students' financial aid applications.
Counsel students and parents about self-help financial aid programs, eligibility requirements, and application processes.
Plan and perform financial aid workshops to staff and students.