For Craig Slaughter, FAAC®, financial aid has been more than just an occupation — it's been a profession deeply committed to the continuation of learning.
As the director of financial aid at Kenyon College, Slaughter is currently bracing for the business that hits financial aid offices in August — bills are due, invoices need processing, and the new semester is right on the horizon. But amid all the phone calls and processing requests, he’s taken some time to remind those in the profession of the value of embarking on and completing the Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Knowledge Exam.
Slaughter, who officially started his role as the new Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Program Commission Chair on July 1, said the program serves as an important tool of engagement for the profession, and that the FAAC designation is a testament to the rigorous skill set and knowledge base that financial aid administrators need to effectively do their job.
“The certification helps financial aid administrators recognize that it does take a lot of knowledge to do their work,” Slaughter said. “To be able to show and say, ‘Yes, I do have the skills and knowledge necessary to do this job effectively,’ is important not just for the person themselves, but also for the profession and for the institution.”
Speaking of his own experience, Slaughter said the certification has been a badge of professional development that has helped him showcase his expertise.
“It's something that I made time to study for and something that gave me a sense of pride,” Slaughter said. “For me when I took the exam and passed it help me say, ‘Okay, yeah, I've been doing this forever, but now NASFAA recognizes that this is knowledge that I have.’”
Back in 2017, Slaughter returned to Kenyon College to serve as director of financial aid. He previously worked for Kenyon as an associate director from 2000-05. During the intervening years, he worked at a number of small liberal arts colleges and served as director of financial aid for the University of Redlands inCalifornia, and also in the same role at DePauw University.
Slaughter has been heavily involved in the profession and has served previously as MASFAA's (Midwest) president-elect, vice president, and secretary. He has held various volunteer and presenter roles with College Board, MASFAA, ISFAA (Indiana), WASFAA (Western), and NASFAA — including serving on the NASFAA Board of Directors as a representative-at-large and also as the 2018-20 diversity officer.
In terms of obstacles to embarking on the exam Slaughter said that the biggest challenge stems primarily from testing anxiety.
Slaughter encouraged professionals to not fear the exam and has found that most people who meet the criteria to sit for the exam are more than ready. He also said that participating in prep courses can help put those fears to rest.
“Being able to have a prep course will help bolster and reinforce the idea that long-serving financial administrators, who have been doing this job well, do actually have that knowledge base to be successful at the knowledge exam itself,” Slaughter said.
Slaughter encouraged financial aid professionals to check out the “Why Certify” campaign to learn more about what earning the FAAC designation has meant to hundreds of financial aid professionals.
“This is a meaningful and nice recognition that can help keep people motivated doing this work that we know takes a lot of effort,” Slaughter said. “Most people do financial aid because of the rewards of helping others — and just having that recognition can sustain you through those difficult times.”
Publication Date: 8/22/2023