It’s a job that requires detailed knowledge of federal and state rules and regulations, but it’s also about the “human connection,” says Becca Diskin, director of financial aid for Missouri Southern.
“People who work in the financial aid profession have to have that knack,” she says. “Customer service isn’t easy when you’re talking about money, and federal paperwork is not always simple.”
Earlier this year, Diskin – who serves as treasurer (and next year as president-elect) for the Missouri Association of Student Financial Aid Personnel – was selected to serve on a national task force to develop a credentialing exam for financial aid administrators.
How Did That Opportunity Come About?
Our national financial aid organization – the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators – was looking for people to serve on an advisory group to help design and write the credential exam. They selected financial aid administrators from all over the country. There were about 15 or 20 of us that convened in Washington, D.C., and did a crash course test-writing workshop, then used our experience and knowledge of the field to help write the exam.
What is the Exam Used For?
It’s a credentialed exam that financial aid administrators can choose to take – it covers different subject areas such as regulations, compliance and all the nuts and bolts of financial aid processing.
It’s to help elevate people in our profession to another level. There’s no financial aid degree, but it carries a lot of weight to go through specific training and understand certain concepts. For people who wish to be promoted or who are looking for another job that’s a step up in their career, having this credential is proof to the hiring team that they’re qualified.
What Do You Like Most About Your Job at Missouri Southern?
I like the challenge of taking something complex and explaining it to people so they can understand it. I love that in the financial aid profession, we’re not just dealing with rules, regulations and paperwork. We’re dealing with people and helping them through a complicated process.
You can have Student A, but Student B right beside them looks completely different. Maybe they’re a non-traditional student, or maybe they have a family, or they’re from out of state, or living in the dorms for the first time. Every student has a different story to tell. There’s a challenge to that, but it’s also intriguing. You get to know the student a little bit as we use our resources to help them.