Financial Aid Director Heather Patenaude recently got her Consumer Information Certification from NAFSAA, that’s the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
What is the Consumer Information Certification and what does it mean for the college and its students? Consumer Information is all about transparency and ensuring that student, staff, and the public get the info they need at the appropriate times.
Information like the Gainful Employment information links that are located on each certification program page, which provides information to students and potential students about a programs length, cost and typical debt of students who complete a program.
It also covers things like Crime Statistics, that the college is required to track and make available to the public. Some is even about the different types of financial aid available, and how students qualify for that type of aid.
Important information that is made available to potential students is the cost of certificate or non-degree earning programs, like Automotive Repair.
“Students can go in and see how much typical borrowing was in the previous year. And the overall cost of the program. Then they can see that previous students were able to pay for the program with almost zero loans, that this school has enough Financial Aid to help them through the completion of their program, without landing them in the debt crisis.” Heather says.
While a lot of these reports are handled by other departments each one is important to the Financial Aid department as each is required by part of the financial aid legislation, without these reports being made available to public, the school would be in danger of violating that legislation.
“FA Legislation tends to be detailed, some of it very complicated, and some doesn’t relate to financial aid at all. And that’s where the consumer information comes in. Receiving this certification ensures that we have an additional person on campus who is familiar with what, when, and how things need to be done to stay in compliance.” Heather says.
The certification is becoming more common with those entering the field as knowing these reports better will help the college to produce them more accurately, at the right times, and to remain in compliance with financial aid legislation so that future students who need federal aid, can get it while owning their future at MCC.