MVP Brad Barnett

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MVP: Most Valuable Professional is an occasional series that features a brief Q&A with a different NASFAA member. Do you know a financial aid colleague with something interesting to say? Send the names of potential future MVPs and a short note about why you're nominating them to [email protected].

Brad Barnett

Brad Barnett
Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships
James Madison University

Meet Brad Barnett, senior associate director of financial aid & scholarships at James Madison University. Brad started his career in financial aid while working his way through graduate school in 1994-95 as a graduate assistant in Virginia Commonwealth University's Financial Aid Office. "After graduating, I left to pursue a career within the field of my degree, but decided I enjoyed working in financial aid more, so I returned to the VCU aid office on a full-time basis. The rest, as they say, is history," Brad said. After a few years, Brad moved on to his current institution, James Madison University. He currently serves as Treasurer of NASFAA's Board of Directors.

What’s on your desk right now?
Computer, stress ball, water bottle, iPad, jar with protein bars, office phone, a “prayer box” one of my sons made me years ago, superhero coffee mug with pens, car keys, cell phone, and a few miscellaneous papers.

One thing working in financial aid has taught me:
We all have the ability to positively impact someone’s life…we just have to pay attention to the opportunities as they arise. I feel blessed to be in a profession that allows me to do that day in and day out.

How does your boss support or encourage your work in the professional association?
The words empower and trust come to mind. I have a great boss (Lisa Tumer) who encourages me to get involved, empowers me to get involved, and trusts me to be involved while still getting my “day job” done. She also understands the value that being involved in a professional organization brings to our office and school, so she’s quick to encourage my participation. Lisa is the best!

What NASFAA service/product is most helpful to you?
It’s a tie between Ask Regs and Today's News.

If you won $1 million, what would you spend it on?
After Uncle Sam takes his cut I’d probably help finish out an orphanage our church is helping to build in Peru. My wife really wants a beach house, so even though I’m not a huge beach fan, I think we’d do something along those lines as long as it could also be an income producing rental property as well.

Biggest financial aid change I’ve seen in my career:
There are many, but it’s hard not to put the October 1 FAFSA filing date and prior-prior year right at the top of the list.

My favorite thing about my job is:
The people in the office and the students. We have a great group of folks in the JMU aid office. I also teach personal finance and I absolutely love being in the classroom and having the opportunity to connect with students in a different way.

Glad I did it but wouldn’t do it again:
My oldest son talked me into riding the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster at Cedar Point Amusement Park with him. One time...that's it!

Can’t live without:
Activity. Whether it’s golfing, skiing, obstacle course racing, exercising, or just going for a walk…there has to be activity.

Something I wish I knew my first year working in financial aid:
It would have been wise to start a PhD when I first got into the business. I wish I had known then the value of getting started. With the age of my kids now and my teaching commitments (in addition to my “day” job), I’m not sure I can swing the time at this stage of my life without sacrificing some things I don’t want to give up. However, looking back, it would have been very doable then.

My idea of a perfect day:
Snow skiing with my boys in the morning. Playing golf after the skis are put away. Then, going to a movie with my family, followed up by a family dinner at Franco’s Pizza in Harrisonburg and Blizzards at Dairy Queen for dessert.

What part of your daily routine do you enjoy most?
Going to the gym at lunch. I get grumpy if I don’t exercise. Seriously, it’s a great stress reliever and I simply feel better for doing it.

Want to say hello to Brad or reply to something he said? Please leave your remarks in the comments section below. You can also take a look back at our past MVPs to read any you missed the first time around.


Do you know a financial aid colleague with something interesting to say? Send the names of potential future MVPs and a short note about why you're nominating them to [email protected]


Publication Date: 10/31/2016

Allison S | 11/7/2016 3:30:24 PM

Brad you are my hero! I want to be you when I grow up! I am so blessed to have been your student in the NAOW and because of you I am where I am today in my FA career! Congratulations on this MVP award you are truly an MVP in my book! Thanks for all you have done for me!

Timothy W | 10/31/2016 5:49:11 PM

Hello Brad! Congratulations. It has indeed a pleasure to be working with you. Who knew back then where we would all end up. Keep up the great work and take care Mr. Barnett.

Marc V | 10/31/2016 2:20:27 PM

Congratulations on being recognized by your peers as a financial aid MVP. No one is more deserving of this recognition, and I am so happy for you that your dedication and service to our industry have been highlighted. Your commitment to work, family, and friends is a testimony to the man you are. With knowledge in your hands and an open heart, you were sure to find success in your efforts. Best wishes.

Sharon O | 10/31/2016 10:57:07 AM

Congratulations Brad! You have provided extraordinary services to SASFAA members. We appreciate your dedication and commitment to our association. You are most deserving to be selected as NASFAA's MVP. The Leadership Symposium that you chaired on last week motivated and inspired participants to lead by delivering excellence services to staff and students. Thank you for your continuous support.

Julie S | 10/31/2016 10:56:37 AM

It has been a pleasure to work with you on financial literacy matters (although it's been a few years since we've connected). Great acticle and congrats!

Henry Q | 10/31/2016 8:52:19 AM

Brad, I am so proud of you! As Daniel said above, you have found a way to balance your family life and your professional life, and to stay involved in professional activities at the highest level. I remember fondly the great times we shared on staff of the SASFAA New Aid Officers Workshops at Furman. God bless you as you continue to lead in service to your family, your students, and your institution.

Daniel M | 10/31/2016 8:20:03 AM

Great feature Brad! You are such a positive role model and someone who seems to have a great work/life/family balance. Thanks for your continued leadership and involvement. It has been a pleasure to serve with you on the Board of Directors and know that NASFAA's finances are in good hands with you as Treasurer.

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