Financial aid professionals play a crucial role in assisting students make their higher education aspirations a reality.
On a typical day, a financial aid professional may find themselves in student meetings, processing paperwork, or awarding aid. However, this only scratches the surface of the unique and complex work these professionals do each day.
Considering how challenging this work can be, we asked our NASFAA Certified Financial Aid Administrator® Program community for the top reasons they enjoy their career in financial aid. Time and again, when financial aid professionals are asked why they do this work, the top reason is to help their students.
There are many reasons financial aid professionals said they love what they do. But at the top of many lists, our community said the financial aid profession allows them to:
Make a difference in students’ lives
Teach financial literacy skills
Help students navigate a complex process
Engage in challenging and rewarding work
Be a member of a supportive and collaborative professional community
Have a voice in decision-making to positively impact student experiences
Learn new things every day
Challenge yourself to be simultaneously analytic and creative
Have a meaningful career
Make a difference in the world and your community
Take a peek into what else our FAAC® community shared:
Darcy Johnson, FAAC®, assistant director of compliance at Washburn University of Topeka, said: “Financial aid is a rewarding experience to help students navigate what they see as one of the most challenging aspects of higher education; and to see them achieve their dreams.”
Sandra Acuna, FAAC®, assistant director of financial aid at California Health Sciences University (CHSU), mentioned her favorite aspect of her job is meeting with students. “My original goal was to be a teacher. Being able to help educate students on their financial aid options and financial literacy to me meets that original goal,” Acuna said.
Mike Johnson, FAAC®, a consultant, said he likes the mix of helping students, informing institutional goals, and complying with statutes and regulations. “The complementary skill sets required were challenging and rewarding,” he said.
Justin Bohannon, FAAC®, associate director of graduate and law financial assistance at Syracuse University, said: “The camaraderie provided through state, regional, and national associations has always been an important part of my career as a financial aid professional.”
Debbie O’Dea, FAAC®, director of financial aid at Pacific University, said she completed a master’s degree in student affairs with the assumption that she would obtain a role in new student orientation or study abroad programs. However, O’Dea’s path changed when she started a graduate assistant program in the financial aid office.
“It just made so much sense,” she said. “This is a huge part of the college experience, sometimes the make or break part, and being able to help students and families figure it out is crucial.”
James Smith, FAAC®, system director of financial aid at Lone Star College, said “being able to help students achieve their educational goals through helping them navigate an extremely complex process that creates barriers for many students,” was one of his top reasons for working in financial aid.
Ultimately, while each person may have their own priorities and values driving their career, it’s clear that a passion for helping students is a thread that ties the financial aid community together.
Publication Date: 10/23/2023