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Career Story: Student Loan Counselor At A College

Student Loan Counselor At A College

Job Title: Associate Director, Student Financial Services

Type of Company: I work for a local college which specializes in architecture, engineering, industrial design and computer science.

Education: BA, Education, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Previous Experience: I have been a credit analyst, a student loan underwriter, a team leader and supervisor for resolving loan processing issues and a student loan underwriter and business consultant.

Job Tasks: I am essentially the supervisor for a group that would be known in other colleges and universities as the Bursar's Office. We are also cross-trained on registration and financial aid although our primary focus is accounts receivable.

It is our job to make sure that all current tuition bills are paid for or covered by financial aid, private student loans, tuition payment plans, check or cash payments, or a combination of these methods of payment.

Our regular tasks include: processing refunds to students reviewing accounts with outstanding balances communicating with students and families regarding balances, bill due date partnering with financial aid to resolve aid issues, disbursements, eligibility etc working with students to complete missing paperwork for Title IV funds resolving issues with regard to un-disbursed financial aid preparing itemizations for families sending revised bill for miscellaneous charges

As the supervisor, I am responsible for: reviewing counselor student refunds and signing off on them authorizing exceptions, overrides, reversing errors on the system ensuring counselors are performing their regular tasks handling escalated issues reviewing employees process improvement training new hires interviewing candidates partnering with the other associates to oversee the day to day running of the center posting notices on the school's online communication system regarding changes in hours, bill due date etc.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The things I enjoy most about my job include working with students and their families, process improvement and liaising with other departments.

The parts of my job I don't enjoy are personnel issues, dysfunctional departments and department heads, outdated processes and technology, unwillingness to consider new ways of operating.

Job Tips: A masters degree is not required but may provide more opportunity to advance later on or to pinpoint a focus area. Or, if the idea of working in higher education appeals, a masters in higher education provides a broad education for those who'd like to work at a college or university without having to focus on one particular area.

Additional Thoughts: As a former employee in "corporate America" I was keen to find a job that would be more be more meaningful to me. I targeted the operations side of the business during my job search in higher education but have been surprised at how hard it has been to transition. One thing that I now appreciate in hindsight about my previous position is that middle and higher managers were held accountable. This is not the case in my current workplace. I'm sure it varies from school to school however.

If I could change one thing about how I approached my career it would be to listen to my heart. I am not particularly satisfied with my career at present and think I should have stayed in the education field, where I began, and found an area that suited me more.

I think personal fulfillment and satisfaction are the most important factors for a successful career. If you love what you do and are good at it, you will advance and thrive.

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