I think everyone struggles when asking important questions to authority figures. I especially felt that way when I would visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships to talk about my financial aid offer. Now that I am currently employed in this office as a work-study student, I have a different view.
Spring semester, I had just quit my previous job because I didn’t feel valued and nor did I feel like I was making a real impact on those around me. At that point, I talked myself out of getting a new job because school should come first. After about two weeks of not being employed, I was bored. I hopped on Quest and looked for various jobs that fit my lifestyle. One day, I found a posting for the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. I applied because I really wanted to know more about financial aid and become more aware of scholarships that are available at UW-Stevens Point. Once I applied, I received an email a few days later requesting an interview. I was so nervous, but in the end, I absolutely nailed it and got the job!
After working in the office for about two weeks, I realized many things. The most important thing is that everyone in the office wants to help you and see you succeed. I asked so many questions about my own financial aid offer to help me better understand how to help other students. After talking to most of the advisers, I was able to plan and understand almost everything about my financial aid offer. My second realization was that being nervous to ask questions about my financial aid does not help anyone. There was a point when I noticed a scholarship did not get applied to my account. I was too afraid to speak up, so I ended up having to pay about $2,000 out-of-pocket in tuition, interest and fees. Once I said something to an adviser, they contacted the agency that the scholarship came from and my scholarship was delivered within two weeks. If I had stayed nervous and intimidated, I would have owed even more money. Finally, I learned that the work-study students are very knowledgeable. They tend to know the answers to many questions, even if it’s complex. If they do not know the answer, they will find it for you.
As a student team member, I do a lot of work for the office. I answer your emails, phone calls and in-person questions, stuff envelopes, scan, fax and create documents. I even have meetings in order to learn more about financial aid and scholarships. My favorite part of my position is helping students understand concepts that can be confusing, so they know what’s going on. Compared to “normal” office work, working at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships can be more complex. I went through weeks of training and shadowing to be sure I knew as much as possible about financial aid and scholarships. I continue to ask questions that I might even know the answer to, but I’d rather ask the same question 800 times than provide someone with incorrect information.
I truly enjoy what I do in this office. I enjoy helping others and working with a staff that is supportive and who share the same passions as I do. As a nursing student, many of the skills that I have learned in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship can be directly applied. My oral and written communication skills have improved. I have also learned how to create a budget, what loans are and how to manage my own finances. I had no idea how to manage any of those things before working here. These skills are extremely important post-graduation because of my career. I need to pay off my loans, manage a home and communicate with a variety of people. These skills will also help me attain my goal of opening my own free clinic in the distant future.
I honestly learn every day that I am at the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and I love that. Being able to help people while taking away lessons that I can apply to my own life is very important to me. The next time you have a question about financial aid or scholarships, do not be afraid to stop in, call or email our office. Everyone in the office shares the same passion for helping others and seeing them succeed. I hope that I may have helped you become less fearful of approaching and asking questions about your own financial aid. Take charge of your finances and ask questions to become more aware of what our office can do for you!