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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Vicki Hendrickson, University of Tulsa

June 29, 2010

Vicki has been the Director of Financial Aid at University of Tulsa (TU) for the past 10 years. She is a past President of the Oklahoma Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (OASFAA) and served as Financial Aid Director at Oklahoma City University prior to joining TU.

Ron Hancock: What is something you’re most proud of within your office?

Vicki: I’m really proud of the length of service we have in our office. We currently have eight staff members with a combined 108 years of experience. That type of experience and service is an amazing testament. That has also helped us achieve a very positive working relationship with the entire campus community.

Ron: What has been the biggest challenge your office has faced during the past 12 months?

Vicki: The conversion to Direct Lending has been a big challenge. We’ve also had to work hard to educate our administration on the burden of implementing Direct Lending. Additionally, the general economic downturn has created a difficult budget situation that resulted in our office losing one staff position.

Ron: Are there other areas you see in the near future that could pose challenges for your office?

Vicki: It still remains to be seen what the long-term effects will be from the transition to 100% Direct Lending. I’m curious to see how default rates will be impacted and what type of service levels will be seen by students, parents and aid offices. We’re also concerned about the future of private loans and what changes we may see in that sector.

Ron: TU started the transition to Direct Lending earlier in the spring semester. What are some tips you could provide to other schools as they make their transition?

Vicki: It’s important to work with your software provider to make sure you have everything in place with the Direct Loan modules and to ensure training can be provided to your staff. We mapped out all our processes to see how things would change for us internally and tried to identify as much as we could in advance. We found it much easier to begin with processing a small batch of students before doing everything all at once. Also, make sure you take advantage of training opportunities offered through the Department of Education.

Ron: Is there someone in the financial aid community you regard as a mentor?

Vicki: Joe Williams from the Department of Education has always been someone I could turn to for guidance and assistance–from small questions to big issues. Kevin Campbell (also with the Department) has been very helpful as well. I also want to express how much I’ve valued and cherished our partners in the student loan industry. Their assistance to our office and students over the years is very much appreciated.

Ron: What do you like most about your job?

Vicki: It’s really all about the students and seeing their success when they graduate. Seeing a student’s accomplishment and knowing you’ve helped them achieve a huge life goal is very rewarding.

Ron Hancock, Southwestern Regional Director

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