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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Amy Capps from the University of Utah

September 22, 2011

Like so many other financial aid professionals, Amy Capps (Assistant Director of Counseling, University of Utah)began her journey thru the education/financial aid profession as a Federal  Work Study student in the admissions office of Lewis and Clark college (OR). When she transferred to the University of South Carolina, she was fortunate enough to receive another Federal Work Study position in their admissions office. She has been in financial aid for 11 years, was the 2006 RMASFAA Conference Chair, has served on the highly coveted RMASFAA Summer Institute Committee and is the current President-Elect of UASFAA (Utah).

Amy recently was interviewed by Nelnet’s Don Buehrer, Nelnet’s Regional Director for RMASFAA and SWASFAA.

Amy Capps, Assistant Director of Counseling at the University of Utah

Don- How did you select financial aid as your profession?

Amy- By Accident!  We were relocating from South Carolina back to Utah and I wanted a job in Higher Education, preferably in admissions.  I couldn’t find anything in admissions so I opted to apply for a financial aid counselor position and got the job.  I have held four different positions in the office and have really enjoyed every one of them.

Don- What major changes have you seen in financial aid during your years in the industry?

Amy- The first few years I was in financial aid we didn’t see that many changes, but just in the last five years or so, there have been so many it’s becoming difficult to keep track of.  The big ones I can think of are Year Round Pell, ACG, SMART, TEACH, the move to Direct Lending, and Consumer Information.

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

Amy- I don’t really have one favorite movie or book.  I love all the Disney movies and I’m a big fan of all the books by both Nicolas Sparks and James Patterson.  I live in a house with three boys so my TV is pretty much permanently on ESPN or the many other sports channels we have.  I rarely watch anything!

Don- If you could change one financial aid regulation, what would it be and why?

Amy- Return of Title IV Funds.  Especially now with the new regulations in regards to modules, this regulation is so administratively burdensome.  The time it takes to review the files, notify the students, determine attendance, contact professors, do the calculation etc. is excessive. Seems like there should be a better way!

Don- Who are/were your mentors?

Amy- There are so many amazing people I have met in financial aid that it’s hard to narrow down just a few.  I value all of my relationships and love that I can always pick up the phone and call a colleague if I have an issue.  John Curl and Karen Henriquez in my office have been great mentors to me both in financial aid and on how to be an effective manager.  I also have learned a lot from Sally Schuman (formerly at Univ of Wyoming) and Cristi Millard (Director at Salt Lake Community College) and appreciate their mentorship over the years. 

Don- What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Amy- I truly love the challenge of financial aid.  It’s a vast puzzle and I love to try to find solutions to the issues that come up.  But I also love the people, not just those that I work with but the students.  We sometimes complain about them but they really are the reason we are here. 

Don- Name one thing about you that most people do not know .

Amy- I am quite musical.  I played the flute for many years growing up and have played the piano since I was 8 years old. 

Don- What has been your biggest challenge work-wise over the past 12 months?

Amy- The move to Direct Lending.  Although the transition was smoother than we had hoped, it took a lot of man hours and meetings to put together how we were going to handle the change. Publications had to be updated, the website had to be redone, the students had to be educated and we had to figure out how to make our system work.  Our whole frame of mind on loan processing had to change.

Don- How do you spend your time when you’re not working?

Amy- Mostly playing with my boys.  We often play basketball, baseball, soccer or football in the backyard after work and on the weekends.  I also love to scrapbook and read when I have the chance.

Don- If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would they be?

Amy- Walt Disney (I love everything about Disney and am completely fascinated by this man); Orlando Bloom for some eye candy;  Adam Sandler for some comedy relief

Don- Where was the last place you went on vacation? (and what did you do?)

Amy- Tucson Arizona to visit my mom and attend a three day scrapbooking retreat

Don Buehrer, Regional Director

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