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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Kathy Gailor, University of Bridgeport

July 16, 2010

Kathy Gailor, Director of Financial Aid at the University of Bridgeport

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

Kathy Gailor:  I am most proud of the incredible team I have at UB, an outstanding group of people who I know I can count on to get things done.

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

Kathy: I can only pick one?!? This past year has been very challenging, starting with the unexpected loss of my boss, friend and mentor, Tom Oates, VP of Administration and Finance. Add on the switch to DL, system issues, year-round Pell, and the economy, and you have one challenging year!

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

Kathy: [I] think the next trend is going to debt management and financial literacy. Everywhere, from the New York Times to NPR, are news articles about how much debt students are accumulating from student loans and who is responsible.

Kimber: Do you have any tips for schools that are transitioning to Direct Lending (or what has been helpful to you as you have made the transition)?

Kathy: It was not as bad as I thought it would be. Just follow the steps, and ask for help when you need it (even on the little things, because they are the things that will trip you up).

Kimber: Who within the financial aid community has been your mentor?

Kathy: Over the past 15 years I have worked with many good people, but I still base my financial aid management style on my first FA Director, Rebecca Flake.

Kimber: 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?

Kathy: #1 – Financial literacy for incoming freshmen and their families; #2 – Financial literacy for graduating seniors; #3 – More outreach and information to delinquent students about repayment options, deferments and forbearances.

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

Kathy: I was Daddy’s little girl, and Daddy owned a small excavation company that he ran with my grandfather, brother and cousin. So, when I was a little kid, I wanted to take over his business and do construction.

Kimber: What do you like most about your job?

Kathy: The best thing about this job, especially at University of Bridgeport, is helping first generation college students. I was the youngest of four and first in my family to go to college, so it means a lot to me to be able to help these students.

Kimber: What is your favorite book, movie or food?

Kathy: Book – Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett; movie – Reservoir Dogs, directed by Quentin Tarantino; food – chile rellenos.

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

Kathy: I have visited 41 out of the 50 states.

Kimber: What is your favorite television show?

Kathy: Favorite TV show ever – M*A*S*H; favorite TV show on now – Survivor.

Kimber Decker, Northeast Regional Director (CT, DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA)

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