In a traditional sense, we as financial aid administrators are not educators. We can’t claim credit for teaching our students the intricacies of the skill that will one day make them independently wealthy, and we aren’t usually the first ones thanked in the valedictorian’s speech. And although we are often left out of the spotlight, more often than not we get the chance to make the first real connection with a student as they begin to determine how they will pay for the journey they are about to begin.
We are all too aware of how difficult and confusing the financial aid process can be at times. For many students, especially those undecided on college the task can seem too overwhelming to complete. It is our job to ensure that we remove the un-necessary barriers to success so that students have the chance to enjoy the learning process and all the benefits that come along with a successful education.
As a fairly new director who has experienced a moderate amount of turnover within my office I am thankful that I am able to rely on all of the resources offered by both NASFAA and the Department of Education. Without this information so readily available to us, our ability to assist our student’s unique needs would surely suffer and additional roadblocks to their success would be created.
One of the first things I always do when my office hires another new associate is familiarize them with the resources available to them. Here are a few of our personal favorites:
The Financial Aid Toolkit- This site has all kinds of information from the basics of understanding Title IV aid and the FAFSA to great sample FA night presentations and media tips that can help your students.
Financial Aid Vocabulary- Listening to veteran staff communicate is a lot like hearing an unrecognizable foreign language for the first time. This site gives a great overview of all the acronyms and key words used throughout our job.
Federal Guidelines- The Federal Handbook published by the DOE each year takes a little of the sting out of all those CFR’s and condenses them into an easier to read searchable online handbook.
Ask Regs- The Ask Regs database is an amazing searchable database of hundreds of previously asked questions and answers asked by other professionals. If you can’t find your answer you can submit a new questions for a reviewer to answer for you. (Requires NASFAA log in credentials)
Prior-Prior Year Toolkit- New for 2017-2018 changes to the start date and tax reporting year will have big impacts on students and professionals. Using NASFAA’s checklist can assist you in considering the impact it will have on your campus so that you can communicate important details to students and other department staff.
I am sure many of you have even more ‘go-to’ resources, and if you would like to share I would love to hear about them!
In our profession we are asked to wear many hats, and are often viewed in many different ways by others. For me, I enjoy what I do because I really believe that we all make a difference in student success. When students don’t need to stress and worry about how they will financially cover their costs, they are able to be more focused on the things that will eventually get them on their stage at graduation.
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Association News Committee