Financial Aid Professionals Gather for Virtual Roundtable

With goals of equity and access at their core, colleges, and scholarship organizations that use the CSS Profile and Institutional Methodology (IM) collectively provide billions of dollars annually in need-based financial aid to students. A broad and deep understanding of need analysis foundations, economic principles, and best practices is critical to the success of administering financial aid. One example of how the College Board helps to advance these concepts and the professional development of the financial aid community is the Campus Need Analysis Roundtable.

Earlier this month the virtual roundtable hosted more than 150 financial aid professionals from 70 colleges and universities. The event provides an opportunity for an in-depth conversation about IM need analysis through guided discussions led by the event’s committee of practitioners.    

With this year’s theme, It is a Marathon Not a Sprint: Managing During and Beyond Covid-19, it is no surprise that many discussions centered on how families and their ability to pay for college have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.  Attendees shared that the most challenging aspect of appeals for additional financial aid was the overall uncertainty families are facing surrounding Covid-19. Unlike prior years, many parents who have suffered furloughs and layoffs simply do not know when their circumstances will return to “normal”. 

Aid appeals resulting from earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, the Great Recession, and now the pandemic provide some of the most complex and heart-wrenching situations for aid officers to evaluate and solution. Although the challenges of managing aid concerns during these unprecedented times are high, panelists encouraged viewers to draw on past experiences to inform Covid-19 related appeals. Session leaders also wisely advised attendees to pause, take a breath, and remain flexible, and to remember the mission of helping students is critically important now more than ever. The dialogue between attendees and panelists was clear evidence that aid professionals remain very committed to student success and approach their work with a high level of creativity and compassion.

The College Board is a pioneer in the financial aid field and stands ready to assist higher ed as campuses respond to Covid-19 and deliver aid in new and different ways. Visit our website for free resources like: professional judgment tip sheets to help administrators manage aid appeals; a special Covid-19 hub for information and updates on higher education and the pandemic; and professional development opportunities for higher education.