Professional Development – A Way to Navigate Through the Financial Aid Wilderness

Sent on behalf of Connie Riley, Boot Camp Committee Member

It is no secret Financial Aid professionals continuously have to adapt to changes. Federal, State, and Institutional policy changes always trickle down to the Financial Aid Office. It seems we learn one regulation one day, only to have it become obsolete the next. Combined with the everyday stresses of phone calls from parents and students, receiving verification documents, and everyday interruptions, we can feel like we are wandering in the wilderness.

Professional Development is imperative for Financial Aid Professionals. Training opportunities, like the ones provided at the SWASFAA Boot Camp and Conference can provide an excellent service to your office. There are four reasons why it is so important to make time for professional development:

  1. Increase knowledge base – Attending programs where you learn something helps you to develop in your area of expertise. This can not only help your office; it can help your school.
  2. Meet new people – Opportunities to collaborate with others and obtain some ideas for best practices can help you. When you attend professional development trainings, there will be a lot of people you do not know yet. NETWORK! Meet others who deal with the same issues, and see what opportunities are available for you to expand upon.
  3. Expand your rolodex – Developing new connections and developing relationships with others in your field can be helpful if you run into a situation for which you feel you need to get a second opinion.
  4. Develop new resources- In addition to what you learn from the program content, you can learn even more from the other people in attendance. You can get advice from others who have “been there, done that.” Attending professional development programs are a great way to delve into the knowledge base of others and their areas of expertise.

Last year, I attended the SWASFAA Conference in Oklahoma. I attended several different sessions, but one in particular stands out. The speaker asked for us to talk about best practices in dealing with loan counseling. I came away with a couple of ideas for our office, and we have since implemented them. For me, this made the trip worth the time it took away from my office.

Don’t get lost in the wilderness of Financial Aid. Take this great opportunity of Professional Development offered at the SWASFAA Boot Camp and Conference. You will have the ability to meet colleagues from different states, network, learn something, and share what you already know with others. We look forward to seeing you in Grapevine.

Connie Riley
Boot Camp Committee Member
Financial Aid Analyst
Southern Arkansas University Tech

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