To Samantha McCarron, NIU is dwelling.
In her new position as director of NIU’s Monetary Support, she needs to assist college students and households really feel the identical method.
“My massive objective is to demystify monetary help and make it extra relatable, comprehensible and approachable,” she mentioned.
Incomes her grasp’s diploma at NIU, McCarron has labored on campus for greater than a decade. She formally turned the director of Monetary Support on Sept. 1, after serving as performing director since Oct. 1, 2020.
It’s not a place she essentially thought she’d find yourself in when she took an entry degree job within the Workplace of the Bursar years in the past. She’d simply moved to DeKalb along with her husband, James, who’d been admitted into NIU’s Faculty of Regulation.
Inside a pair years, McCarron had transferred to Monetary Support, the place she steadily superior from counselor to assistant director to affiliate director and finally to performing director.
“Since final October Samantha has achieved an amazing job of main the workplace in an performing position, regardless of the various challenges and impacts from COVID-19. She has an immense data of monetary help practices and laws, in addition to expertise at NIU, together with virtually ten years of accelerating management roles inside the Workplace of Monetary Support and Scholarships,” mentioned Sol Jensen, vice chairman for Enrollment Administration, Advertising and marketing and Communications.
“I’m impressed with Samantha’s imaginative and prescient for the way forward for the workplace, together with methods for using monetary help to draw college students and guarantee their success at NIU. She is collaborative, analytical, a artistic drawback solver and is enthusiastic about aiding college students in reaching their tutorial aspirations. NIU is in an excellent place and can profit from Samantha’s imaginative and prescient and management.”
McCarron could not have anticipated to finish up the place she is as we speak, however she will’t think about her journey at NIU taking her elsewhere.
She remembers first coming to DeKalb along with her husband, a younger couple “with no cash in our pockets.” She is aware of the worth NIU’s Monetary Support provides and is dedicated to serving to college students and their households navigate by way of their choices.
She doesn’t have management over sure elements, akin to the quantity of federal and state funds given to every pupil, “however I can management how we work together with college students, and the way we offer our companies to be consumable for college students,” she mentioned.
“We’ve achieved a whole lot of work over the previous 10-ish years to make that higher, however there’s nonetheless much more to be achieved,” she mentioned.
Up to now couple years, she mentioned, the Monetary Support and Scholarship Workplace has revamped the way in which wherein college students are notified of help provides and has labored exhausting to make clear for college students the variations between types of monetary help, together with grants, scholarships, loans and work alternatives.
The workplace additionally has labored to develop clear guides for college students and households on understanding prices and monetary help, tips on how to apply for NIU’s scholarship and monetary help, subsequent steps and tips on how to fill out the Free Utility for Federal Scholar Support, or FAFSA.
McCarron’s workplace additionally screens for widespread errors and tries to weed them out.
As an illustration, she says, “We typically see college students who by accident enter mum or dad tax info as their very own, which may trigger them to have decreased eligibility for sure sorts of help, so we ask for clarification.”
She additionally recommends households assessment the knowledge being entered on the FAFSA, which makes use of tax info from a earlier 12 months. When a pupil is filling out the FAFSA for the 2021-22 college 12 months, 2019 tax info is used. Nevertheless, many households expertise a change in circumstances from 12 months to 12 months.
“Lots of people don’t know they’ll contact their college to request an adjustment based mostly on their present revenue,” McCarron mentioned.
Her subsequent normal piece of recommendation to college students is to learn by way of their emails and ask questions.
“We all the time need them to speak to us, to be proactive, and use the Monetary Support Workplace as a accomplice,” she mentioned.
Because the director of Monetary Support, McCarron mentioned she serves three populations—the scholars and their households, NIU and the federal and state companies.
“Now we have obligations to all three of these events,” she mentioned. “Making an attempt to be artistic to give you new methods to maximise enrollment and assist to college students, whereas staying inside our finances, definitely retains you in your toes.”
Nonetheless, she’s up for the problem.
“I’ve greater than an expert funding in NIU,” she mentioned. “That is our dwelling.”