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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Chris Christensen from Johnson County Community College in Kansas

July 5, 2011

Chris Christensen wants to own his own restaurant and become a chef. He would bake and feature the finest in French breads and pastries. His second choice is to have an 8 to 5 job. Currently, Chris does not own his own restaurant, is not a chef, (he does eat bread and pastries however) and the 8 to 5 job thing exists only in dreams. But he does have an occupation that is very rewarding and challenging and he simply loves it. Chris is the Director of Financial Aid at Johnson County Community College in Kansas. He is the past president of KASFAA and was recently interviewed by Nelnet’s Don Buehrer, Regional Director for RMASFAA and SWASFAA.

Chris Christensen with Dr. Jill Biden

Don: How did you get into the financial aid industry?

Chris: I was working as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M. At first, I thought it may be an 8 to 5 job, so I could work and study at the same time. I was wrong about the 8 to 5 part, but fell in love with the profession and here I am.

Don: What major changes have you seen in financial aid during the past year?

Chris: Well, probably the largest change has been the landscape of the student loan industry. We lost many partners and much support when we made the transition to Direct Lending. The FFEL Program actually has made the DL program much better but the change was still difficult. I’m hopeful that DL will continue to improve, even without the competition from FFEL.

Don: What is your favorite book, movie, TV show?

Chris: Favorite book is Hunger Game Series: TV show- Modern Family: Movie- Inception AND The Kings Speech

Don: Who are/your mentors?

Chris: Jeanne Mott (Baker University, KS), Julie Cooper (former FAD at Johnson County CC, KS), Robert Gamez (Kansas State University) and Jack Falks (formerly with Texas A&M and College Loan Corporation).

Don: What was your biggest challenge as President of KASFAA?

Chris: Keeping the membership informed on the associations’ needs and key issues impacting our schools. I actually enjoy following the legislative process (sick isn’t it?)and strived to make sure that schools were contacting their legislators to voice their opinions.

Don: If you could invite any one person to dinner who would it be?

Chris: My grandmother Margarete. She passed away before I was born, but would love to have dinner and conversation with her.

Don: What should schools focus on as far as the 3 year CDR (Cohort Default Rate)?

Chris: We’ve begun to offer financial literacy programs on campus in an effort to increase awareness. Schools should pay special attention to those students who have defaulted, verify they have defaulted according to repayment date and default date and appeal those who do not fit within the proper guidelines. All of us need to be well-connected with the federal servicers and provide additional due diligence when possible.

Don: Name one thing about you that most people do not know?

Chris: I grew up on a dairy farm

Don: Who would you root for if The University of Kansas or Kansas State were playing Texas A&M in football?

Chris: Git ‘em Aggies

Don: What is your dream job?

Chris: I’d like to own my own restaurant, become a chef and bake the finest French breads and pastries.

 

Don Buehrer, Regional Director

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