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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Lear Hickman, University of Houston

October 20, 2010

Lear Hickman, Assistant Director, Student Financial Aid, University of Houston (left), and Lou Murray, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

Lou Murray: How long have you been in financial aid?

Lear Hickman: Eleven years.  I have been here at the University of Houston (UH) for about eight (8) months.

Lou: What is your job focus?

Lear: My focus is on assisting the students. I manage the student loan area and program.

Lou: What makes your campus unique?

Lear: Diversity.  We have a very diverse student body.  We are located in the heart of the fourth largest city in the United States.  We are making great progress toward becoming a Tier 1 university.

Lou: What has been your biggest challenge during the last 12 months?

Lear: Accepting my role here at UH during the implementation of Direct Lending was a challenge.  The most difficult part is dealing with the system issues in PeopleSoft.

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

Lear: A positive trend I have noticed is that students seem to be better informed about the financial aid process.  Perhaps it is due to the materials available via the Internet and the increase of accessible web tools available.

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

Lear: I believe more attention could be focused at the beginning, via financial literacy initiatives.  Start talking to students about budgeting, financial wellness, and responsibility before they graduate and enter repayment.

Lou: What do you like most about our job?

Lear: Helping the students and families.

Lou: Who has been your mentor?

Lear: Jessica Thomas, our Associate Director.  I’ve learned a lot from her.  She is a good leader with a strong mindset.  She makes me feel like we can always take it to the next level.

Lou: What is your favorite movie?

Lear: The Color Purple.

Lou: Name one thing most people might not know about you.

Lear: People assume I’m from Houston, or maybe New Orleans, as I have ties there, but I’m actually from Detroit.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Frederick Tombar permalink
    October 20, 2010 12:32 pm

    I think that you have the right person in this position in Lear Hickman. I always knew that she would excel in whatever career she chose. Congratulations Lear on being recognized

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