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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Sandra Mitchell-Holder from Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana

March 29, 2011

Sandra Holder, Lead Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Ivy Tech Community College, Central Indiana

Raina Chezem: What do you like most about your job?

Sandra Mitchell-Holder: The thing that I like most about my job is that I play an important part in helping people get an education.  An education is one of the best investments a person can make in themselves.

Raina: How many staff members are in your office?

Sandra: We have 13 staff members, two of them are part-time staff.

Raina: What made you decide to get into the financial aid profession?

Sandra: I started working in the financial aid office while I was working on my first degree, which was a paralegal degree.  I left the financial aid office for eight months to work at legal aid and then decided that I liked working in the financial aid office better.  So I began working in financial aid again and I have been in this field for about twenty years.  The thing that keeps me working in financial aid is that I like helping people improve their life and sometimes the lives of their families too.

Raina: What makes your campus unique?

Sandra: I think that our campus is unique because we have a very diverse population of students.  Our student population is so diverse because our tuition is the lowest tuition in the state and many students now attend our college to earn the first two years of a four year college degree.  We have numerous transfer degree programs in place to encourage students to earn a bachelor’s degree after they leave our college. 

Raina: What has been your biggest challenge over these past 12 months?

Sandra: Our biggest challenge in the past 12 months is keeping up with our student population growth.  The lagging economy has inspired many more people to seek out a college degree which in turn increases student loan borrowing.  It is a challenge to ensure that aid is awarded in a timely manner every semester.

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

Sandra: I would say that my first supervisor in the financial aid office was my mentor.  Because she had worked in financial aid so long, she was a great resource for every new person in the office. 

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

Sandra: I still think that the emphasis should be on increased and consistent communication with student borrowers.  Keeping students informed of the different repayment options can help avert a number of defaults.  I also think that schools need to do a better job of educating student borrowers about the long term effects of over borrowing.  If students are able to learn to borrow in moderation, that will ultimately help decrease default rates.

Raina: What is one thing that people do not know about you?

Sandra: That I am a big Monster Truck fan.  I just love going to a monster truck rally and watching the big trucks crunch up stuff.

Raina: What are your hobbies? 

Sandra: I like to read, travel and quilt when I have time.

Raina Chezem, Midwest Regional Director (IL, IN, MN)


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