Recent congressional changes have caused many students and parents to question the governance of financial aid programs. Federal programs at every institution are subject to political processes inherent in both the legislative and executive branches of government.

Congress approves funding after passing laws authorizing financial assistance programs, and the U.S. Department of Education sets regulations further governing these programs authorized by Congress.

Each institution's financial aid office determines its own processing cycle based on computing capabilities and availability of personnel and federal, state and institutional funding.