MVP Emily Osborn

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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].

Emily Osborn

Emily Osborn
Director, Chicago Office of Financial Aid
Northwestern University

Meet Emily Osborn. As the director of financial aid for Northwestern University's Chicago Office, Emily works with the law and medical schools, the School of Professional Studies, the Kellogg School of Management’s evening and weekend MBA programs, and various allied health programs on the Chicago Campus. She began her career in financial aid as a work-study student at Antioch College, and has since worked for the Graduate Financial Aid Office at the University of Chicago, as the associate director of admissions and financial aid at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, and as the director of admissions and student affairs for the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is currently serving as the NASFAA graduate/professional caucus chair and has previously served on the NASFAA Graduate/Professional Loan Limits Task Force, the NASFAA Graduate/Professional Issues Task Force, and as chair of NASFAA's Examining the Lack of Graduate-Specific Data Task Force.

How did you get started working in financial aid?

In the fall of my first year at Antioch College, my roommate said that she was going to apply for a work-study job in the financial aid office to learn about scholarships earlier. I thought it was a great idea and applied as well. After working in the financial aid office during all four years of college, I told the administrators I loved them, thanked them for all their help, and said I’d never work in financial aid again. Six weeks later I called to ask the director to act as a reference when I applied for financial aid jobs in Chicago. She said she knew I’d be back. Since then I’ve worked almost exclusively with graduate/professional programs, working primarily in financial aid, but periodically also had admissions and student affairs duties as well.

What's on your desk right now?

What isn’t on my desk? It’s a mess. But a few things: 2 Batmen, 3 hippos and my calculator.

Something I wish I knew my first year working in financial aid:

This really will be your career; take advantage of learning everything you can.

One thing I would like to change about the current financial aid system is:

I’d love to see the subsidy come back for graduate students, but the more likely change would be to no longer have financial aid administrators verify Selective Service registration—especially for students who became U.S. citizens or permanent residents after the age of 26.

What was the best thing that happened to you this past week?

It was just over a week ago now, but the best thing that has happened recently was that I got a hug from Chewbacca while at Disney World. It’s pretty hard to top that.

What’s one thing you love about working at Northwestern?

I love the community here and specifically the financial aid community. We are relatively de-centralized, but we meet almost weekly and work together very closely. It is great to have such collaborative working relationships.

What book/movie have you read/seen recently that you would recommend and why?

My go-to book recommendations are "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern and "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. They are both beautifully written books that I think anyone would love. The most recent book that I read that I would recommend is "Artemis" by Andy Weir (his follow-up to "The Martian"). It is a fun, funny book and I just love anything space/NASA-related.

My most motivating financial aid experience was:

About six months after I started at Northwestern (as an assistant director in a small graduate/professional program), our university aid director allowed me to run with a project that ultimately changed how the grad/professional programs offered loans at Northwestern. Her faith and trust in me gave me the confidence to keep moving forward in my career as a financial aid administrator.

What’s one great or helpful thing one of your coworkers has done recently?

Brian Drabik, senior associate director in our undergraduate aid office, acts as my sounding board on an almost daily basis and always helps me work through some of the more complicated compliance issues (as well as answer some dumb questions from time to time) and I would be lost without him.

Want to say hello to Emily or reply to something she 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: 12/18/2017

Katrina D | 12/20/2017 2:35:17 PM

Great job, Emily! I know how hard you work and it is great you stayed in the field!

Maria S | 12/19/2017 8:6:05 AM

From a fellow E .Morgenstern, A. Doerr & Andy Weir fan, Best Wishes, Emily (and if you ever start a book club, count me in!!)

Rebecca R | 12/18/2017 5:11:59 PM

Congrats Emily! Keep up the great job.

Kim J | 12/18/2017 1:40:25 PM

Emily, thank you for your energy and enthusiasm for our beloved profession. This is quite the honor and I am thankful for people like you; who serve as a paradigm of excellence.

Shannon C | 12/18/2017 11:24:39 AM

Congratulations, Emily!

David S | 12/18/2017 11:21:02 AM

NASFAA has so many worthy candidates for this honor, and always gets it right. Well deserved, Emily, and thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of the students we serve.

Charles P | 12/18/2017 11:1:34 AM

What a nice surprise to start the week - congratulations and bravo, Emily!

Aesha E | 12/18/2017 10:59:29 AM

Congrats, Emily! Even though you're only a few miles away, our paths don't cross much so I'm glad to get to learn a little more about you!

Gina S | 12/18/2017 10:17:05 AM

Emily is truly an MVP and a great advocate for graduate and professional student financial aid.

Anthony S | 12/18/2017 9:26:18 AM

Emily, I am so happy you received this award. You are a wonderful person and a great colleague. Well deserved. Tony

Lisa W | 12/18/2017 9:2:52 AM

Well deserved Emily!!! Congratulations!!

Meredith S | 12/18/2017 8:24:57 AM

Congratulations Emily and have a wonderful holiday season!

Lori V | 12/18/2017 8:18:25 AM

Congrats Emily!!!!

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