Q&A with Jacquelyn Cottom, NASFAA’s Compliance Specialist and Webinar Producer

By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter

Jacquelyn Cottom

This fall, NASFAA’s Jacquelyn Cottom will become the new “face” of NASFAA webinars and virtual events as our compliance specialist and webinar producer, as her predecessor, Margot Manning, moves into a new role as NASFAA’s director of training operations. 

Before joining NASFAA in March 2020, Jackie worked at Northern Virginia Community College as a financial aid advisor and assistant director of compliance and support for 10 years. She joined NASFAA’s policy team as the assistant director of state relations and advocacy, before moving to the Training and Regulatory Assistance (TRA) department in 2021 as an instructional content and training specialist. 

Learn more about Jackie, her new position, and her career, in the Q&A below!

What’s your new role at NASFAA and what does it entail?

I am the compliance generalist and webinar producer. This new role involves managing NASFAA’s webinars and virtual events. We aim to continue to provide our members with up-to-date and comprehensive training and resources within our virtual platform. I'll continue to work in other areas within our TRA department, as well as with NASFAA U online courses, authorized events, our FAAC® exam preparation workshops, and developing training materials.

What was your background before coming to NASFAA?

Before my time at NASFAA, I worked at Northern Virginia Community College as a financial aid advisor, working directly with students and families before moving into the position of assistant director of compliance and support. I also worked at a foundation and was able to travel around the country organizing and planning paying for college workshops. That was my first opportunity to interact with students and families from all over the country.

What are you looking forward to in this new role?

I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to further engage with our members and provide the training and materials that will assist them in staying up to date with the constantly changing federal regulations and guidance. I'm also excited to continue to amplify the voice of the financial aid administrator in higher education. 

What do you like most about connecting with NASFAA members?

It would definitely be hearing their different perspectives and knowing at the end of the day, we all have a common goal and objective we're working toward. I know that we are always looking to improve systems. We benefit as a profession when we can share those best practices and collaborate with each other.

What is a goal you’ve set for yourself for the upcoming year?

I typically like to have a solid plan and work that plan. However, with the final implementation of FAFSA simplification and final rules expected in several different areas this year, I've set a goal to be agile, flexible, and willing to change course if something's needed. So that may mean pop-up webinars similar to what NASFAA did during the early days of COVID, or making updates and tweaks to our current schedule as we receive more information or hear about the needs of our members.

What’s something you couldn’t function without?

I have two. One would be my calendar. My husband knows if it's not on our shared calendar, it doesn't exist. So all games, practices, appointments, special events, everything, it's on our calendar. The other one is my daily walks in the morning. I walk my daughter to daycare every morning, and it's a wonderful opportunity to just clear my head and refocus on the tasks ahead.

Anything you’ve learned in the last year, or a new hobby you’ve picked up?

I've started listening to a new-to-me podcast, The History Chicks. Every few weeks, they highlight a woman in history and they go into detail about the challenges she faced and successes she experienced. For me, it's fascinating to learn how their legacies have lived on and how they've impacted the world we live in. I always learn something new, whether about the person or just the events happening in that time period that they live in.

What’s your favorite NASFAA memory?

My favorite NASFAA staff memory was doing a scavenger hunt in the National Museum of American History during an all-staff retreat. I personally love history. It was fun to break up into teams and get to interact with staff members I usually don't have the chance to work with on a regular basis. We got to explore the museum and solve clues. And if you're wondering, the team I was on did win the scavenger hunt!


Publication Date: 9/20/2023

Joan Z | 9/21/2023 2:18:21 PM

Can't think of a better choice for this new challenge, Jackie!! You are SO ready...have fun with it!

Heather B | 9/20/2023 4:59:45 PM

Happy to see your face more often, Jacquelyn! Margot - we will miss seeing you! Congratulations to both of you.

Crista G | 9/20/2023 12:14:53 PM

Congrats Jacquelyn and Margot!

Helen F | 9/20/2023 10:47:15 AM

Congratulations, Jacquelyn! I'm excited for your work in your new role!

David A | 9/20/2023 9:6:34 AM

Congrats, Jacquelyn!!!

John G | 9/20/2023 8:8:01 AM

Congratulations, Jacquelyn!

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