15 Aug Financial Aid is a Foreign Language
When I stumbled into the world of financial aid, there was so much to learn. Eleven years later, there’s still so much more to learn. The biggest challenge to overcome was the language barrier. Language barrier? Oh yes – financial aid has abbreviations, acronyms, and a complete language that makes no sense to an outsider coming in with no previous financial aid knowledge or experience. On day one people were talking to me about FAFSA, ISIR, COD, FSA, VWD, VWI, sub, unsub, ent and the mpn. I have no problem asking questions or requesting clarification, so I did so, frequently. The funny thing is, so many of the wonderful people I worked with when I started out had been using these terms for so long, they didn’t even know what they stood for. This was a really good thing for me to experience.
I realized quickly that many of the students didn’t understand this foreign language either, but they were too shy, nervous or overwhelmed to ask questions. This gave me the opportunity to use my communication skills to explain the terminology in a way that would make sense to a layman with no financial aid background. I’ve had many students over the years express how thankful and appreciative they were for how I explained things.
Oh, I’m now one of those people who, when around other financial aid administrators, can carry on lengthy conversations that wouldn’t make a bit of sense to someone eavesdropping, but I still always remember the person I was on day one. I remind myself of how confused I was by all these new terms and do my best to translate for every student I meet.
Financial Aid Leader
Paul Mitchell the School Denver
CAFAA Proprietary Representative