Date of Award

Winter 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educ Foundations & Leadership


Higher Education

Committee Director

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Joseph Devitis

Committee Member

A. Dallas Martin

Committee Member

Jack Robinson


The certification of financial aid administrators has been debated for over 37 years. A job satisfaction survey conducted by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA, 2008a) revealed that college and university administrators' perceptions of the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of the services provided by the financial aid office have a direct effect on the job satisfaction of financial aid practitioners. The study also hinted at a possible link between these perceptions and the resources allocated to the financial aid office. Open-ended comments collected as a part of the survey suggested that while members of the financial aid community view themselves as a profession, those external to the industry might not share the same perception. A certification process for financial aid administrators was suggested as a solution. As such, this non-experimental descriptive exploratory analysis of existing data examined the need, benefits, and level of support for a voluntary certification process within the new theoretical framework of professionalization developed for this study. The findings refute decades of anecdotal evidence indicating the majority of financial aid administrators do not see a need for or support a certification process, fills a void in the literature, and provides recommendations for future research.