What are some of the FA tasks you have performed and excelled at?
I have had some great opportunities to make improvements in financial aid offices. I turned customer service around in an environment that was not focused on providing students and prospective students with excellent service. For example, rather than having students see whoever was available in the FA office, I implemented a system where each student was assigned to a specific counselor so they would know who they were meeting with before they arrived at the office and had one point of contact for their questions. Not only did this improve customer service with existing students within six months, it also improved the process for students the college wanted to recruit. Both students and prospective students had a sense of security because they knew they had someone who would help them. In addition, I made it mandatory to follow-up on any questions a student or prospective student had with within 24 hours so that no one was sitting around and waiting for information they needed.
Another improvement I made was to develop in-depth processor training so there was no lag time if someone in the FA office was on vacation or out sick – someone else in the office had the necessary training to pick up where the absent staff member left off and ensure there was no delay in processing.
In one of my roles, I was part of a committee that brought together all student-engaging offices on campus so we could look at the big picture of recruiting and retaining students and develop a cohesive plan that involved all offices.
Finally, I went for a number of years with no finding in audits for my financial aid office.
What do you enjoy most about your current role with HEAG?
I love the fact that I’m helping schools and their students. Before I was an FA consultant, my favorite day of the year was the first day of school and my next favorite day was graduation. The students have the same emotions on both days – they are both excited and nervous and there is a lot of energy on campus. For me, knowing I helped students achieve one of their greatest goals was a great feeling. While I do miss this, it’s very rewarding to help financial aid offices solve problems and show them how they can resolve the challenges they face. Working for HEAG as an FA consultant gives me the same feeling I had when I worked in the FA office – I’m still helping; I’m just doing it from the other side of desk.
What makes HEAG unique or special compared to your work experiences elsewhere?
HEAG’s number one priority is helping their clients. They want every college and university to be successful and they go the extra distance to ensure they are doing everything they can to help schools deal with the challenges they are facing.