University Business - May 2012 - (Page 46)

money m at t e r s Characteristics of a Top Notch Financial Aid Director Six key elements to seek when filling this role By Jennifer Wick oday’s financial aid director wears many hats: counselor, manager of budgets, supervisor, implementer of regulations, and keeper of data, to name a few. as the role of financial aid director has become increasingly complex and challenging, so has filling this position. a job posting could read something like a hybrid circus performer: juggler/tight-rope walker/ magician with excellent communication, supervisory and financial management skills, and at least five years of experience in financial aid. although the national association of student financial aid administrators is now offering a professional credentialing program, there are no undergraduate or graduate programs leading to a degree in financial aid administration. samantha Veeder, director of financial aid at Nazareth College (n.y.), describes how she and many others like her began their careers as students in the aid office. for her, it was 1987 while at Ithaca College (n.y.). “at first, it was just a work-study job to earn extra money. Then it became something more,” shares Veeder, who held her first financial aid director job at age 23. “i created a support network by becoming active in professional organizations. The mentorship i received from this support system was invaluable in growing into the profession.” Evidence of active participation in professional organizations can be a gauge for a candidate’s ongoing commitment to developing as a financial aid professional. How else to identify an effective leader for the financial aid office? This is an espe46 | May 2012 T Aid directors are now often expected to engage in data analysis and strategic projections. cially challenging task since most financial aid professionals are either new to the role (five years or less), or highly seasoned (20-plus years), with many nearing retirement. Mid-level, up-and-coming professionals can be hard to find, internally or externally. Whether the position is filled via an external search or internal talent is developed, there are six key elements that make a quality financial aid director. Customer Service Orientation With ever-increasing numbers of aid applicants, aid applicants in need of professional judgments, and aid applications selected for verification, a focus on serving families is arguably the most important trait of the aid director. discussing finances with families has always been a sensitive topic, and aid directors must overcome mistrust. increasingly, institutions aren’t able to meet financial need, and families are conditioned to appeal the first financial aid offer. navigating these difficult discussions without making adjustments to awards takes special skill. Besides sensitive counseling, clear information, prompt responses, and accurate processing are critical in meeting families’ expectations. Excellent customer service is an important piece in enrolling and retaining students. Supervisory Ability financial aid offices are frequently under-resourced and under-staffed. serving families well under these conditions requires careful management of both budgets and personnel. directors need to keep staff motivated and working at optimum levels, especially at peak times, and establish a customer servicefocused culture, balanced with accurate processing. continual training and education of staff is needed, especially since the recent Reauthorization and its many policy changes.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - May 2012

University Business - May 2012
Editor's Note
College Index
Ad Index
Behind the News
Human Resources
Education Gateways
Big Ideas
Reaching Higher
Admissions Goes Social
Learning Disabled Students Welcome
Who Goes There?
Computing Trends, Today and Tomorrow
Money Matters
End Note

University Business - May 2012