Profiles in Financial Aid: Heather Gaumer from Simpson College
Alan Ishida: Heather, tell me a little about yourself.
Heather Gaumer: I received my BA in 2005 from Simpson College with majors in english and history. I receive my Masters of Public Administration degree in 2011 from Drake University. During the 2012-2013 year, I will proudly serve the Iowa Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators as President. I have worked at Simpson College as the Loan Coordinator since July of 2010 and previously worked at Iowa Student Loan as a School Services Liaison and Financial Literacy Liaison for four years.
Alan: What do you see as the biggest challenge schools are facing right now?
Heather: Schools are working harder with less of everything, except scrutiny. Our work always seems to be under the microscope, and every day we struggle to help our students finance their education amongst federal, state and institutional policy changes, budget cuts, and headlines.
Alan: Who in the Financial Aid community has been your mentor?
Heather: Everyone! There have been so many individuals that have encouraged me, taught me and guided me along the way. I am constantly reminded of the great network of professionals in the financial aid industry and how willing everyone is to help a fellow colleague.
Alan: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Heather: Helping students
Alan: What advice can you offer a new Administrator?
Heather: Learn something new every day and get involved with your state and/or regional association.
Alan: How did you get into the financial aid industry?
Heather: Like most financial aid professionals, I found my calling to work in financial aid by accident – or luck! I was a tutor during my undergraduate years and found that I enjoyed the work. After completing my undergraduate degree, I looked for jobs that would allow me to continue helping students. This led me to admissions work, then financial literacy, and now financial aid.
Alan: How long have you been in financial aid?
Heather: 6 years
Alan: Is there anything that your office is doing from a financial literacy or default prevention perspective that you believe other schools could benefit from?
Heather: Long before I began working in the aid office at Simpson College, they instituted an initiative to inform students of their cumulative federal and private loan debt each year. Each spring students receive an “annual debt letter” so they won’t be surprised at exit counseling to see their total borrowing. This initiative brings a number of students into our office each spring asking questions to learn more about their loans.
Alan: What is your passion outside of work?
Heather: Running, gardening, reading and watching football. Go Bears!
Alan: Where was the last place you went on vacation? (and what did you do?)
Heather: My last vacation was to Germany for Oktoberfest. This was a family trip with my husband and in-laws who have relatives that live in Germany. Although I can now cross this experience off on my “bucket list,” I would love to go back!
Alan: Do you have a favorite food and/or restaurant?
Heather: I love Mexican food. I could eat it for every meal every day!