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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Ryan McNamara, Clearwater Christian College

September 23, 2010


Ryan McNamara, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Clearwater Christian College

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

Ryan McNamara:  The size of our school allows us to have a more personal relationship with the students.  There are only three of us in the office, but we know each and every one of our students.  We strive for excellent service to our students and work with them one-on-one.  For example, we do not batch our State aid and check each file individually to see how many hours the students have used.  Once the student is getting close to using up their hours, we notify the student right away.  We are relationship oriented at Clearwater Christian. 

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

Ryan: Change!  Having to implement Direct Lending and the new Pell regulations in the same year was a challenge for us. 

Kristi:  Do you have any tips for schools that are transitioning to Direct Lending? 

Ryan:  Not at this time, but I am open to advice from others! 

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

Ryan:  My boss, Ruth Strum, has been a mentor to me.  She has encouraged me to get involved within the industry, which is in great part why I am the Secretary of FASFAA.  She is involved herself and loves what she does, which has been an inspiration. 

Kristi:  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? 

Ryan:  I think schools should focus on the high school students and help educate them on smart borrowing.  It would be helpful if we provided information during high school nights and if we worked closely with the counselors. 

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

Ryan:  In high school, I wanted to be an architect. 

Kristi:  What do you like most about your job? 

Ryan: Each year I find it rewarding to attend graduation and see the same students that I have been helping for the last four years walk across the stage and get their degrees.  It is also nice to see the parents again, who once sat in my office concerned about whether they could afford to put their child through college, sitting in the audience so proud of their child’s accomplishment. 

Kristi:  What is your favorite food?

Ryan: Pizza with any kind of meat on it.  Particularly, Hungry Howies $5.55 large pepperoni pizza with garlic butter crust. 

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

Ryan: People perceive me as shy because I am not an outspoken individual.  It is not due to the fact that I am shy, but rather I feel it is not necessary to say something if I have nothing to talk about at that time. 

Kristi:  What is your favorite television show? 

Ryan: King of Queens is my favorite show.  I will still watch the re-runs and laugh during every episode. 

Kristi:  What positions have you held within the industry? 

Ryan:  I was on the Bonnie Perkle Scholarship Committee and have also been the Secretary of FASFAA for the past three years. 

Kristi:  Where did you work prior to Clearwater Christian College? 

Ryan:  In high school, I did not have a car and needed a job in order to buy a car, so I was hired at Sam’s Club as a Checkout Supervisor and could walk there from my house.  I was then hired as an Assistant Manager at Chick Fila for three years, while attending college, but went back to Sam’s Club during my last year of college.  After that, I became a Financial Aid Officer at Clearwater Christian College. 

Kristi Jones, Southern Regional Director (AL, FL, GA, MS, PR)

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