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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Seph Anderson from University of Mississippi

February 7, 2012

Seph Anderson & family, Student Loan Coordinator, University of Mississippi and MASFAA President

Kristi Jones:  How long have you been at Ole Miss? 

Seph Anderson:  I have been at the school for 12 years.  I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Ole Miss and started in the Financial Aid Office eight years ago, as a Graduate Assistant.

Kristi:  How many staff members do you have in the financial aid office?

Seph:  We have 20 full-time employees.

Kristi:  You are an avid Ole Miss football fan. Do you attend all of the home games?  How about the away games?

Seph:  I am a season ticket holder.  I take my three-year old daughter to every home game.  We very rarely travel to the away games, but I’ve only missed two home games in the past 11 years.

Kristi:  Has your presidency role for the Mississippi Association been all that you expected this year?

Seph:  Yes, the role has gone well for me.  We did most of our planning early on and were able to meet with the board during the summer, which have made things easier for us.  I am pleased with how things are going this year and hoping for a successful conference at The Inn at Ole Miss in May of 2012.

Kristi:  What challenges have you faced in your role as MASFAA President?

Seph:  With everyone being so involved in their day-to-day responsibilities on their campuses, it is hard to donate a great deal of time to the association.  Understandably, MASFAA gets pushed to a lower priority and not everyone can be as responsive to the association tasks as they would like to be.

Kristi:  What do you think contributes to the University of Mississippi’s reputation and sets yourself aside from other institutions?

Seph:  Ole Miss has a private school feel, yet offers everything that comes with being an institution in the southeastern conference.  The town of Oxford, Mississippi has a distinctive southern charm and serves as one of the top retirement locales in the United States.  Something else that separates us from our competition is the “hands on” personal touch we are known for offering to our students and families.  As far as tuition goes, Ole Miss is consistently ranked as one of the best buys in the country.

Kristi:  Did the movie, The Blind Side, have any impact on your enrollment numbers? 

Seph:  Yes, the number of applications we have received the past few years has been significantly higher, and our enrollment has seen a great deal of growth. Without doubt, The Blind Side helped to show those living outside of the southeast what Ole Miss is all about.

Kristi:  Regarding the student loan industry, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced over the past year? 

Seph:  The switch to DL was challenging for us, but is going smoothly now.  A lot of miscommunication on PLUS and Grad PLUS loans between what our staff would advise and what COD would advise to parents caused some early frustrations.  The biggest issue we see today arises from endorsed PLUS or Grad PLUS loans that were endorsed via paper versus being endorsed online.

Kristi:  You have two daughters, a three-year-old and a four-month old. Are you hopeful that they will also attend Ole Miss, as you and your wife did?

Seph:  I would love that, but ultimately I want each of them to attend the institution of their choice.  That being said, LSU and Mississippi State are our two biggest rivals!

Kristi:  What was your major at Ole Miss?  Did you begin your career in financial aid as a student assistant? 

Seph:  I received an undergraduate degree in Business and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs.  I started working in the financial aid office as a graduate assistant.

Kristi:  Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Seph:  I enjoy spending time with my family and daughters. In particular, I like taking my three-year old to Ole Miss sporting events which we both enjoy.  I also like to golf when the weather is warm.

Kristi Jones, Southern Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

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