Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Summer Institute Experience

by Keri Gilbert, Financial Aid Advisor, University of Missouri

I remember when my supervisor came bouncing into my office to tell me I was going to Summer Institute. “Oh yeah, it’ll be great! It’s a week in a dorm and going through NASFAA Credential courses!” I was so hesitant at first. What if everyone is mean? What if the dorms are crawling with spiders and mice? What if the material is too hard? After my first few hours, I realized that everyone was super nice and very outgoing (which is nice for people like me that are a little introverted…) and I didn’t see a spider, mouse, or anything terrifying in the dorms. As for the material? I learned a ton! It was a great week learning the foundations of financial aid and how all of the different pieces fit together. I loved getting to know my fellow financial aid administrators and it was so interesting to discuss how different things are at other schools. And I have got to say, earning NASFAA Credentials is awesome! Not only are you learning things that help you advise families, process aid, or whatever you do in your office, but passing a test and having your name added to the Credential Honor Roll feels great! So far I have earned 16 NASFAA Credentials, and from each subject I have gained at least one (usually it is more like 100) thing that has helped me in my job.

Summer Institute is a great way to ease into association activities and really see what this crazy profession is all about. You meet people that are from different schools, different regions, and follow different procedures in their office, but you all have one thing in common: financial aid! I found that starting a conversation with a group of people I didn’t know was as easy as asking “what is the craziest student interaction you have ever had?” Everyone is so nice and welcoming, and the faculty were awesome! Many of the connections I made at Summer Institute have helped me get involved in my state association (MASFAP) and MASFAA.

 I can honestly say that the week at Summer Institute changed how I think about my job, and helped me discover a passion for financial aid. If you can go, you gotta do it! If you have people in your office that you think would benefit from attending (which they will), make them go! I promise they will thank you later (Thanks, Nick!)

Find out more about the Summer Institute at

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