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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Rick Renshaw, Dallas County Community College District

July 8, 2010

Rick Renshaw loves spending time with his three (soon to be four) grandchildren, but he also loves being involved in the financial aid community. Rick is the Executive Director of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs for the Dallas County Community College District. He is a Past President of the Texas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (TASFAA) and Southwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SWASFAA). In addition, Rick was recently appointed as a Commission Director for NASFAA for 2010-11. He’s always chairing a TASFAA committee and is actively involved with legislative issues.

Rick was interviewed by Don Buehrer, Nelnet Southwestern Regional Director in Texas.

Rick Renshaw, Executive Director of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs, Dallas County Community College District

Don: What are you most proud of with your financial aid office?

Rick: The dedication and commitment of our financial aid staff to getting applications processed and funds ready to disburse on time is remarkable. Many staff spend evenings and weekends throughout the spring and summer just to make sure things are ready for the next enrollment period, most of the time without the proper thanks and appreciation of those for whom they serve.

Don: What has been the biggest challenge for your office over the past 12 months?

Rick: What used to be an almost 100% automated process, the Federal Pell Grant Program, has become a processing nightmare. The addition of a second Pell grant award in a single year has severely challenged the ability of our staff to get aid out on time. Add to that the forced migration to the Federal Direct Loan Program…all of our resources are overloaded.

Don: Are there any primary or coming trends that you see in the financial aid office?

Rick: Increasing complexity in the administration of major Title IV programs and loss of essential default management services provided by the student loan industry will force more schools to have to look for efficiencies outside their own financial aid staff to manage costs associated with the demands of participation in government aid programs.

Don: Do you have any tips for schools that are transitioning to Direct Lending, or what has been most helpful as you make the transition?

Rick: The biggest help to our colleges in this transition period has been the networks we have nurtured with peer institutions that have recently completed their transitions in the past couple of years. We sought out similar schools that use the same FAM software to model our transition plan.

Don: Tell me about your experiences before your current employment.

Rick: I have been a Financial Aid Director for over 26 years, working in both public and private sectors at both 2-year and 4-year institutions across Texas.

Don: Where do you think schools should focus their efforts with regard to default prevention strategies given the industry’s move to a 3-year CDR model?

Rick: We are focused on early stage delinquency aversion, using this transition to DL to review our entrance loan counseling policies and strengthen the financial literacy components of that counseling. In addition, we are in the final stages of negotiating the purchase of a delinquency management service agreement that will help us aggressively contact and counsel students going into delinquencies.

Don: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Rick: I definitely never thought about being a financial aid administrator, that is for sure! My first childhood ambitions were to be a meteorologist or an architect. [I] ended up going to college as a major in history with plans to become a seminary professor.

Don: What do you like most about your job?

Rick: Making a difference in people’s lives. The most satisfying times in my life have been to stand outside the graduation hall and see the product of my work come out the door with diploma in hand, watching the smiles and hugs and pictures with families, and then getting that occasional handshake, “thank you,” and even a hug myself.

Don: What is your favorite book, movie, TV show, food?

Rick: Besides daily Bible reading, my favorite genres for recreational reading are historical fiction and non-fiction. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington would have to rank near the top of my all-time favorite list of movies. I still tear up with patriotic pride listening to Jimmy Stewart’s filibuster. Sadly, my favorite TV show is no more. 24 ended on May 24, 2010. Between Cajun and Tex-Mex, you will cover most of my meals.

Don: Name one thing that many people do not know about you.

Rick: I have survived two bouts with cancer over the past thirty years and recently passed the five-year anniversary of being cancer-free.

Don Buehrer, Southwestern Regional Director (TX)

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