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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Bob Voytek from Arizona’s Coconino Community College

December 8, 2010

Bob Voytek, Director of Student Financial Aid and Veteran Services, Coconino Comunity College

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

Bob Voytek: We’ve tripled our financial aid volume over the last few years. The staff keeps up with the workload and made the transition to Direct Lending and year round Pell easily. They really care about student success and supporting the College’s mission.

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

Bob: Keeping up with all the releases for our financial aid management system. There’s always a patch, an update, a hot fix, or a re-release to accommodate regulatory changes.

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

Bob: 10 second, two sentence, communication blasts to students. Students ignore anything that is long and wordy. They want a rapid, concise message.

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

Bob: Terri Eckel, Director at Yavapai College. She brought me into financial aid and built the foundation for my learning at Northern Arizona University. And John Nametz, Director at University of Arizona. He is an expert at networking and thinking outside the box.

Dawn: 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?

Bob: Upfront with the students as they are deciding how much money they need/want. I love the phrase “Live like a student while you are in College, so you don’t have to live like a student after you graduate.”  Schools need to have a comprehensive, updated, written default management plan to keep them on track.

Dawn: Do you have any tips for schools on a subject of your choice?

Bob: Yes, I call it financial aid octopus. Get your tentacles out across your college. Anytime you can involve yourself in a faculty meeting, an administration meeting or a governing board/ board of directors meeting, do so. Financial Aid is confusing to those around you and the more you can explain how it works, the more support and allies you will have.

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

Bob: A pet store owner.

Dawn: What is your favorite food?

Bob: My aunt Nancy makes the best chocolate mousse in the world. Busters restaurant’s chocolate mousse in Flagstaff AZ is a close second.

Dawn: What is your favorite television show?

Bob: Myth Busters. Where else can you find out if it is possible to break out of jail by cutting the bars using dental floss?

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

Bob: I used to be a photographer for a whitewater rafting company in Colorado. This was in the “pre-digital” days. I was having trouble getting the film to the lab on time so began training homing pigeons to carry the film for me. Yes, homing pigeons can carry film (in a customized lycra backpack), as long as they steer clear of hawks.

Dawn Knight, Rocky Mountain & Western Regional Director (AZ, CO, ID, NV, ND, OR, WA, WY), Nelnet Partner Solutions

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