NASFAA Mourns the Passing of 1978-79 National Chair/President Neil Bolyard

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of past President/National Chair and friend Neil Bolyard.

Prior to his retirement in 1997, Neil served as a scholarship and veterans coordinator at his alma mater, West Virginia University (WVU), and as the school’s director of student financial aid for nearly 30 years. While at WVU, Neil took two periods of temporary leave to shape student financial aid on a broader scale. First, he served as an assistant director of the Basic Grants Training Project in Washington, D.C., which was later renamed the federal Pell Grant program. In this role, Neil was responsible for training all secondary high school guidance counselors and financial aid personnel in the country over a four month period, according to his obituary. His second leave kept him in West Virginia as he was tasked with overseeing the administration of the state’s Student Loan Guaranty Agency, helping shape student financial aid in the state.

Since NASFAA’s inception in 1966, the association has been led by an elected leader who serves a one-year term. For the 1966-69 term of office the title was Chairman, and for the terms of office from 1969-70 through 1986-87 the title was President. The title for elected leader was changed to National Chair in 1987-88 and remains National Chair today.

In addition to his capacity as NASFAA president in 1978-79, he was also a member of the Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA) and the West Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (WVASFAA), where he was a founding member and also served as president. Neil’s contributions to the state and higher education earned him the honor of having a road in Morgantown, West Virginia named after him.

Neil also served on several national, regional, and state advisory committees, including with the College Entrance Examination Board, College Scholarship Service, American College Testing Program, West Virginia State Grant Programs, Department of Education, and the West Virginia Education Loan Program, among others.

In honor of Neil’s history of exemplary service, he was bestowed lifetime membership at the state and regional level, and at NASFAA was given the Lifetime Achievement award upon his retirement from WVU, the highest honor awarded by the association. Neil was also a recipient of NASFAA’s Allan W. Purdy Distinguished Service Award in 1979. 

“Neil was instrumental to building NASFAA in early formative years and his impact on student financial aid is still felt today for his work in shaping the Pell Grant program,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “His commitment to students and the profession was unwavering. We are grateful for his many contributions over the years he served students and the organization.”

Upon retirement, Neil became a consultant for a private financial aid services company before returning to WVU in a part-time capacity as an assistant to the director of admissions and records, where he was responsible for establishing academic eligibility for all NCAA athletes at the school. 

He was especially fond of traveling and visited all 50 state capitals. As a lifelong mountaineer, he was an avid fan of WVU athletics and rarely missed football or basketball games. 

For his time in the U.S. Army, Neil was awarded the West Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs Meritorious Service Award and was honored with several civic awards and recognitions throughout his life.

NASFAA is grateful for the impact Neil has had on the financial aid community as a whole. Our sincerest condolences and best wishes go out to Neil’s family and friends.


Publication Date: 10/21/2021

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