Location: Seattle, Washington
Type: Full Time
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The University of Washington, Office of Student Financial Aid has an outstanding opportunity for a Financial Aid Counselor.
Student Financial Aid, a unit within the Enrollment Management, supports the Provost as well as the University of Washington community. This position has significant impact on the effective, efficient, and fiscally sound operation of our financial aid programs. The financial aid programs (in excess of $600 million reaching over 31,000 students across 3 campuses) contribute to the University's overall mission as a public institution. Without fully functioning aid systems, students would be unable to attend, and the University could experience financial liability and fines, and funds necessary for the operation of the University would not be received.
The financial aid counselor requires a thorough understanding of the federal, state, and institutional rules governing the various forms of financial aid. Federal law is reauthorized every 5 to 6 years with regulatory changes and new legislation inserted within those spans. State aid can change annually with each session of the legislature. Institutional costs and processes may change even more often in response to improvements and limitations to technology, approval and revisions of budget priorities, and structural organizations. Every counselor will track these changes and the affects on student awards at the University. The counselor must successfully keep abreast of technical applications of regulatory and institutional changes and utilize competent and increasingly complex computer system skills to meet their job requirements. Specific assigned programs may be complex and require specialized training or skills.
Beyond the technical and counseling skills required for evaluation and verification of financial aid eligibility, the counselors must use significant and broad professional judgment and discretion in the awarding of available financial aid. Changes in a family's financial strength, exceptions to the standard cost of attendance for unusual educational costs, and satisfactory academic progress appeals to financial aid eligible requirements due to unique and special circumstances of the student are some examples of issues that require the use of professional judgment. These situations require careful review based on a thorough understanding of regulatory as well as personal issues involved. In many cases, the issues involved may be complex and require involved discussions and excellent analytical skills to arrive at a decision that is justified and as fair as possible. All exceptions must be fully documented and made within the limitations of statute. Our student service structure calls upon counselors to explain, sometimes to defend, professional judgment decisions made by other counselors. Because of the shared workload and working styles of a large group of individuals, successful counselors must be excellent communicators, good negotiators, team players and excellent colleagues who share the goals and the hard work necessary to achieve them.
Bridging the gap between the expectations of students and parents and the reality of what financial aid will provide can be stressful. Counselors deal continuously with the dissonance between a family's perceived need and the help available to the student. In this position, they may be the "bearer of bad news" sometimes accused of telling students they "cannot" attend the University. They must be able to deal effectively with the dejection that some students feel when confronted with limited resources to make their educational dreams come true as well as parents and students who may become adversarial in attempts to improve their treatment. To resolve these situations without assistance, counselors are knowledgeable and authoritative while remaining supportive, calm and professional even under highly charged circumstance. Counselors must also be effective and knowledgeable in communicating to diverse groups and larger audiences regarding the financial aid process and requirements, and willing to contribute whenever possible or needed to outreach activities.
•Provide in-person advising and counseling for students, parents, and others seeking information and assistance with all aspects of the financial aid application, eligibility, and disbursement process, while adjusting content to the level of background of each client. In counseling, analyzing the student's circumstances in the context of financial aid eligibility and the student's interests, explaining the possible outcomes and consequences of each action or decision, and referring students to other offices or resources as warranted by the student's situation. Determine when standard procedures may be inadequate to meet the student's needs and advocate for the student for exceptions to policy within the office or with process partners. Advise and assist students and others over the phone and by email and mail regarding financial aid questions and issues.
•Utilize professional judgment to accommodate and counsel students regarding special circumstances. Review special circumstances presented by the student in-person or by means of written requests. Make appropriate revisions to student eligibility, cost of attendance or financial aid to accommodate the circumstances that are within the law and institutional policy and funding guidelines, and defensible. Verify or correct application information, track through automated correction process or enter data directly through CPS On-line. Document professional judgments and corrections, justifying actions that will withstand review by audit. Award and revise financial aid in accordance with federal, state, and institutional regulations and guidelines.
•Perform community outreach at workshops in a variety of settings, including on and off campus, day, evening, and weekend venues. Coordinate presentations with sponsoring groups and other presenters, determining in advance the appropriate equipment needed and handouts and materials to be provided.
•Review a variety of reports such as outside aid, ISIR load, change in program or major, etc., comparing new data to previously recorded data, analyzing data for reasonableness and consistency with other information, contacting outside parties or students when necessary for clarification, making determinations as to how this affects student eligibility, adjusting the aid package and notifying students of changes.
•Review federal and state written updates and attend training and information meetings to maintain current knowledge of regulatory and institutional changes and policies relative to financial aid.
•Administrative or liaison activities unique to assigned programs.
•Serve as team/committee member on review of appeals, special projects and tasks.
•At least 2 years’ experience in the financial aid administration of federal, state, and institutional aid programs to include experience with the federal delivery system, verification and awarding aid or equivalent education and experience.
•Demonstrated ability to work well with people from diverse backgrounds.
•Proficiency with computers and common office PC-based software products (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access).
•Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills. Experience representing department as knowledgeable and authoritative while remaining supportive, calm and professional even under highly charged circumstances.
•Demonstrated ability to communicate technical information and convey disappointing information.
Equivalent education/experience will substitute for all minimum qualifications except when there are legal requirements, such as a license/certification/registration.
•Additional years of more experience in financial aid counseling/administration that may include different school settings.
•Specialized training or experience in programs administered at the University of Washington, such as Work Study, State Need Grant, Federal Quality Assurance, Experimental Site, COD, etc.
•Excellent oral and written communication skills.
•Background in financial aid related fields, operations, loan processing, etc.
•Student service experience at a large, urban university.
•Familiarity with the UW Student Database and proficiency in the use of the Financial Aid modules
As a UW employee, you will enjoy generous benefits and work/life programs. For a complete description of our benefits for this position, please visit our website, click here.
The application process for UW positions may include completion of a variety of online assessments to obtain additional information that will be used in the evaluation process. These may include Work Authorization, Cover Letter and/or others. Any assessments that you need to complete will appear on your screen as soon as you select “Apply to this position”. Once you begin an assessment, it must be completed at that time; if you do not complete the assessment, you will be prompted to do so the next time you access your “My Jobs” page. If you select to take it later, it will appear on your "My Jobs" page to take when you are ready. Please note that your application will not be reviewed, and you will not be considered for this position until all required assessments have been completed.