Director of Financial Aid
Jackson State University
Having worked in virtually every different type of higher education institution throughout his time in financial aid, Ozie Ratcliff prides himself in being able to work with students from a variety of backgrounds to help them achieve their educational goals. Now as director of financial aid at Jackson State University, a role he took on in August of 2020 early in the pandemic, Ratcliff feels a sense of purpose guiding the aid office at one of the nation's largest historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
"Regardless of the institution, regardless of the background, people need help with financial aid," he said.
Knowing that he has the opportunity to potentially interact with every student who comes through Jackson State, Ozie said his goal is to create a culture in the financial aid office that places inclusion at the forefront.
Ozie has been in financial aid for more than 12 years and got his start at Antonelli College in Jackson, Mississippi, making his homecoming at his alma mater Jackson State an ideal place for the next step in his career, he said.
Learn more about Ozie in the brief Q&A below.
How have you seen diversity in higher education change since you began your career?
Diversity is definitely more in the limelight now. However, there seems to be a lot more diversity, but not a lot of inclusion. Every institution you go to now, they'll have a diversity statement. Some even have divisions and departments that are dedicated to diversity, but when you look at the actual practice of that diversity, a lot of places fall short. I've seen the foundation of ushering that change into financial aid, it just hasn't been long enough to see it through to fruition yet.
What's a change in financial aid that you would like to see happen?
More grants and less loans. We have been conditioned as a society to promote education. The cost of education to a certain degree makes a large population of the country feel that it's not worth it. I personally know people who have close to $100,000 in student loan debt, yet have not been able to find a career that gives them a salary to justify racking up that type of debt.
What are some of your life goals, both personally and professionally?
Professionally my goal right now is to get the financial aid department at Jackson State as sound, seamless, structured, and compliant as it can be. I'm also striving to create that perfect balance between work and life. I never really delved into self care. But now I'm at a place where I know I have to take better care of myself so that I can be prepared to take on this heavy lift of leading a financial aid office.
Is there anything in particular that motivates you to work hard?
I go back to my own experience. I never really understood what I was doing. I just knew that I had to do a FAFSA. And at some point if they asked for my taxes, or my dad's taxes, I had to give it to them. That was all I knew about the financial aid process. So I really, really want to make sure the financial literacy component is incorporated with the FAFSA, exit counseling, and the master promissory note and things like that.
What are your hopes for the Jackson State football team this upcoming season?
I can only imagine what next year is going to be! Now that Prime Time (Head Coach Deion Sanders) has a year under his belt and knows the area and knows what motivates our particular students, he's making some big things happen. I am excited for what he brings to the institution and I'm ready for us to get back out there and run over some more people.
Publication Date: 1/4/2022