How to Become a Financial Aid Counselor

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Financial aid counselors provide assistance to students and parents in regards to the financial aid process. A financial aid counselor works in higher education and performs many duties to ensure that students receive their financial aid funding in a timely manner. These professionals are responsible for counseling students, helping them complete financial aid paperwork, verifying their documents, determining eligibility, reviewing files and preparing award letters. There are a few things that you need to do in order to become a financial aid counselor.

  • Enroll in an undergraduate program at an accredited college. In order to become a financial aid counselor, you must have a bachelor’s degree. Try pursuing a degree in a counseling-related field of study, or in education, communications, social work or a similar field. Your academic counselor or adviser can assist you with choosing an appropriate major that can best suit your career goals. Be sure to check the school’s accreditation credentials.

  • Gain relevant experience by working in the financial aid office at your school. Many current financial aid counselors gained valuable experience by working in their school's financial aid office (while pursuing their bachelor’s degree). You can work as a student assistant or receptionist, or perform other clerical related roles that can prepare you for a career as a financial aid counselor.

  • Complete the required coursework and earn your bachelor’s degree. It may take you approximately 4 to 5 years to earn a bachelor’s degree, but it depends on your major, how many courses you take each semester and whether or not you attend summer school. Once you earn your bachelor’s degree you can apply for available financial aid counseling positions at various colleges and universities.

  • Prepare your resume. In order to apply for jobs, you must have an updated and professional resume to send to potential employers. Your resume should describe your qualifications, skills, education and work experience.

  • Search for available positions. You can locate available jobs by contacting the human resources department at colleges and universities. You can also visit a local employment agency, or look for jobs on career websites.

  • Apply for jobs by submitting the appropriate documents. You must complete an application for employment for every vacant position. Along with the application, be prepared to submit your resume, college transcript and contact information for references.

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