College Board Institute on Financial Aid

The Institute on Financial Aid provides opportunities to new financial aid professionals to become more familiar with the fundamentals of financial aid and for experienced staff to delve into a variety of topics, discuss challenges, share best practices, and network with peers.


About the Institute on Financial Aid Conference

In an effort to bridge training for new and experienced professionals the College Board has developed a two-track system. The first two and a half days are devoted to fundamental financial aid concepts. The next two and a half days include deeper conversations regarding professional judgment and ethics.

Newer staff members, with three years or less of experience, are encouraged to attend the full week program. Participants will learn the basics of financial aid, develop core competencies, and receive practical guidance. Advanced staff members, with more than three years of experience or those considering a mid-level financial aid career, can join the Institute for the final two and a half days. Participants will discuss the challenges and intricacies of the art of financial aid, packaging, need-analysis methodology, compliance, and policy engagement.

The structure of the Institute combines information-packed general sessions with small group discussions. Using case studies, participants apply basic concepts, principles, and procedures to the practical challenges of college financing. Mentoring, networking, and program management training make the Institute an invaluable professional development experience.

For general questions, please contact Katie Frank at or 781-663-2722.

2016 Conference Schedule

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7:30–9 AM
9–9:15 AM
9:15–10:15 AM
Opening Keynote  +
Changing Landscape of Higher Education

Colleges and universities face a different landscape than they did 10 years ago. From declining and changing demographics to the public’s views on the cost of education, many challenges face higher education. The importance of the financial aid strategy cannot be overstated as institutions plan strategies. This presentation will offer ideas on how institutions of higher education can address these issues to meet their goals.

10:15–11:45 AM
Financial Aid Forms and Applications  +

Participants will understand the various applications for financial aid, the additional forms that may be required of families, and the reasons why these applications and forms exist. In order to provide parents, students, and high school/ independent college counselors with appropriate knowledge of the financial aid process, participants will become familiar with the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® in addition to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), verification worksheets, tax transcripts, and other relevant materials.

11:45 AM–NOON
NOON–12:30 PM
Small Group: Forms & Applications
12:30–1:30 PM
1:30–2:30 PM
Security and Confidentiality  +

Ever consider the amount of confidential and personal data that a financial aid administrator reviews over the course of an academic year? Students and families entrust us with some of their most sensitive information, such as income, employment status, marital status, and medical history. This session will discuss legislation designed to protect personal, financial, and educational records and how to ensure both compliance and discretion. We all know about FERPA, but we need to become familiar with FTC Red Flag Rules, Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and consumer information requirements.

2:30–3:45 PM
SAP and Student Eligibility  +

This session will cover the concepts involved in developing a Satisfactory Academic Progress policy that meets the needs of your school and student population as well as federal requirements. It will also cover basic student eligibility for federal financial aid.

3:45–4:00 PM
4:00–4:30 PM
Determining Cost of Attendance and Need: The Cornerstone of Financial Aid  +

How much does it actually cost to attend your college? How much financial aid are you allowed to give a student? Participants in this session will learn what costs can and cannot be included in determining the institutional cost of attendance. The session will consider how an institution determines its cost of attendance, how and when those costs can vary for differing student groups, and when financial aid administrators are allowed to exercise professional judgment for individual students.

4:30–5:30 PM
Small Group: Forms & Applications
5:30–6:30 PM
7:30–8:30 AM
8:30–9:30 AM
Federal Methodology (FM)  +

This session is designed to provide a working knowledge of the formulas used in the calculation of the Federal Expected Family Contribution. In addition to an overview of the formulas and their uses, there will be hands-on calculations and discussion of how individual data elements change the outcome of the calculation.

9:30–10:30 AM
Small Group: FM Case Studies
10:30–10:45 AM
10:45–11:15 AM
FM Debrief
11:15 AM–12:15 PM
Verification  +

In recent years, the federal verification process has had a complete overhaul. Some may argue that the changes do not fulfill promises of a simplified and more streamlined process. We will discuss the advantages as well as some of the systemic challenges with the process. Bring your questions about verification issues you have encountered, and we’ll send you back with answers. Participants should leave this session with a clear understanding of federal verification.

12:15–1:00 PM
1:00–2:30 PM
Types of Aid: Gift Aid, Types of Aid: Self Help & Loans
2:30–2:45 PM
2:45–3:45 PM
Loan Origination Processing and PELL  +

For many students, loans are a necessary means of paying college expenses. When lending to students, financial aid administrators have an obligation to their institution, the U.S. Department of Education, and their students to understand the rules and regulations of the federal loan programs. Participants in this session will learn about how much students can borrow annually and in aggregate. how the loan process works, and what student repayment options are available. The session will include a discussion of current issues regarding student indebtedness.

3:45–5:00 PM
Faculty Panel: Communications
7:30–8:30 AM
8:30–9:30 AM
Ethics and Stewardship  +

This session will introduce the NASFAA Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Financial Aid Professionals, best practices, and practical applications for our work and institutions. Content will stress the daily uses of guiding principles in everything from the language we use, our personal interactions, to our application of professional judgment. Participants should gain a strong sense of the overall mission of financial aid and will be provided with resources for continued learning.

9:30–10:30 AM
Veterans’ Benefits  +

This session will examine the various veterans' benefits programs and their effect on need-analysis and aid packaging.

9:30–10:30 AM
10:30–10:45 AM
10:45–11:45 AM
Resources/Tool Box
11:45 AM–12:45 PM
Lunch and Experienced Registration
12:45–1:00 PM
1:00–2:30 PM
Tax Returns  +

This session will examine data elements from federal tax returns that affect need analysis. The various forms and schedules will be referenced as well as their use in both federal and institutional methodology.

1:00–2:30 PM
Advanced Tax Returns  +

This session will build on a base understanding of how tax returns and their data elements are used in institutional methodology and explore tax structures of greater complexity. Discussion will include how to bring greater vertical equity through in-depth analysis.

2:30–2:45 PM
2:45–3:45 PM
Packaging Strategies  +

There are many different ways in which colleges and universities distribute aid to students. The policy and packaging principles for federal aid may be more clearly defined and have more consistent criteria for awarding across institutions. Institutional aid lacks the same consistency because institutions seek to maximize (sometimes limited) available resources. This session will outline various ways aid can be packaged while adhering to federal guidelines and performing best practices.

3:45–5:00 PM
Small Group: Packaging Strategies
5:00–6:30 PM
7:30–8:30 AM
8:30–8:45 AM
Intro to Institutional Methodology
8:45–9:45 AM
Institutional Methodology for Beginners  +

This session will look at Institutional Methodology (IM) and its similarities to, and differences from, Federal Methodology (FM). The CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE will be examined to show how it is tailored to the needs of schools using IM for their need analysis.

8:45–9:45 AM
Institutional Methodology: A Deeper Look  +

This session will take participants with a familiarity of IM deeper into the constructs that make up the methodology. This session will introduce the principles behind the tables used in the formula and discuss the scope of assessing ability to contribute to college expenses.

9:45–11:15 AM
IM Small Groups: New and Experienced
11:15 –11:30 AM
11:30 AM–NOON
FM/IM Debrief
NOON–1:00 PM
1:00–2:30 PM
Professional Judgment  +

This session will provide a brief history and overview of how we got to what is currently known as professional judgment. We will discuss developing reasonable policies and procedures for accepting and reviewing requests for allowable changes in Federal Methodology. We will also review several case studies and discuss possible responses and resolutions.

2:30–3:30 PM
Counseling Strategies  +

Financial aid conferences and workshops can be great places to get the latest information on regulation changes and deepen our understanding of methodology. But for many of us, this represents only a portion of our day-to-day responsibilities. What about the student in tears over her parent’s recent job loss? How do we diffuse the tense situation when a family becomes angry that their appeal for additional funding has been denied? What does it really mean to be a financial aid counselor? This session will explore the "human side" of our roles as aid professionals and discuss strategies for counseling students in a wide variety of circumstances.

3:30–3:45 PM
3:45–5:00 PM
Nontraditional Students and Families  +

Financial aid administrators are a flexible bunch, able to quickly transition from counseling a family with a six-figure income to one receiving supplemental assistance. They also need to be equally fluent with a diverse student body, including the adult learner returning to school, the student who is also a single parent, or the part-time student. Nontraditional students these days outnumber the typical 18-year-old, full-time college student. This session will explore the various needs these students have and best practices to support them effectively.

7:30–8:30 AM
Small Team Breakfast
8:30–9:30 AM
Financial Literacy and Debt Management
9:30–10:45 AM
Enrollment Management
10:45–11:00 AM
11:00–12:15 PM
Closing Plenary  +
What Next? Looking Ahead in Student Financial Aid

The past week has shown that financial aid administration is not just a job but rather a profession with many layers of complexity, history, and dedicated professionals. What does the future hold and how will you impact that future? This session will tap into our best predictions and inspire your creativity.

12:15–1:00 PM

2016 Conference Registration Fees

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 Full WeekHalf Week
Non Member$975$575

A full refund is available if cancellation notice is received in writing 14 calendar days or more before the conference. A partial refund will be issued if cancellation notice is received in writing less than 14 calendar days prior to the conference. If no cancellation notice is received prior to conference, no refund will be issued.

Click here to register.

2016 Hotel Accommodations

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Four Points Sheraton by Sheraton Norwood
1125 Boston Providence Turnpike
Norwood, MA
Phone: (781) 769-7900



Program Highlights

  • Methodology (FM and IM)
  • Conflicting Information
  • Grant and Loan Programs
  • Packaging Student Aid
  • Ethics and Accountability
  • Professional Judgment
  • Alternate Financing Programs
  • Student Employment
Operations & Service
  • Federal Delivery System
  • Fiscal Accountability
  • Records Maintenance
  • Information Systems
  • Counseling
  • Communication Skills
  • Debt Management

About the Faculty

Learn more about our guest speakers leading this year’s sessions at the Institute on Financial Aid.

"The Institute is synonymous with the new financial aid career professional, however, the information and training provided is beneficial to high school counselors, admission officers, and business office representatives. Every new counselor that is hired in our office is expected to attend the Institute because it provides hands-on experience with both federal and institutional methodologies. The faculty empower attendees to become active members in the financial aid profession and attendees leave the Institute with a network of knowledgeable colleagues and, many times, a set of friends in the profession."

—Sean Ferns, Associate
Director of Systems and
Operations for the Office of
Financial Aid, Brown