Career Story: Director Of Financial Aid At A Public University

Director Of Financial Aid At A Public University

Job Title: College Administration - Director Of Financial Aid

Type of Company: I work for a public university that awards bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees.

Education: BA, General Management, Franklin Pierce College •• graduate courses in Higher Education Administration, UMass-Lowell

Previous Experience: I started as a federal work study student working in the financial aid office the summer before I began college. I became an office assistant, assistant director, associate director and finally Director of Financial Aid Services.

Job Tasks: As Director of Financial Aid Services, I manage an office with 14 staffers who report to me. I am responsible for insuring that the university awards financial aid in ways that are compatible with state and federal laws. I also work with the university administration to determine how to award all of the scholarships, grants, loans and work dollars that we have available.

A typical day for me begins with checking email and voicemail to determine if there are urgent problems that need my attention. It wouldn't be unusual to have a parent or student who needed help getting started with a financial aid application or for my boss, the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, to be asking for statistical information about our applicant pool or the dollars we spend.

Overall I coordinate over $100 million dollars in financial assistance to approximately 7,000 students on an annual basis and I review our expenses on a weekly basis to be sure we are awarding funds that fall within our budgetary limits. Compiling statistical information is one of the favorite parts of my job. I'm often writing reports using a reporting tool or Excel to figure out what our population of students looks like. I break down the data into categories such as income, enrollment, grade point average, dependency status, major, etc. By looking at the population in various ways I can help the administration to see where our financial aid programs are successful and where we might want to make changes in our strategies. With 14 staff members reporting to me, it is also my responsibility to make sure they are all completing their assigned tasks and that their work is coordinated so that we are all heading towards the same goals.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The part of my job that I enjoy the most is statistical analysis and report writing. I like to see where our assistance is helping and where we might improve our strategies. I like to solve problems and make everything work in sync so this is a great job for me.

The worst part of my job is attending meetings. I am more task-oriented so I prefer to be doing something with immediate results. Working on committees, although worthwhile, can be boring and fruitless.

Job Tips:
1. Definitely go on to higher education in a field with varied courses such as general management where you will take courses in business, accounting, psychology, statistics and computers.

2. Try to get a federal work study job or on-campus employment at your college or university where you can work in the field while going to school.

3. Put your best foot forward at all times. Be a go-getter and demonstrate you ability and interest no matter what job you are assigned.

Additional Thoughts: Find a mentor who can help you realize your dreams. I was fortunate to have a boss early on in my career who recognized my potential and allowed me to take on responsibility that led to my current position. By demonstrating your ability and interest at any level of work you set yourself up to be recognized and promoted. Be helpful to others by offering assistance. If you can make a difference in your work place it will be acknowledged.

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