September 05, 2007

Hamilton to lead financial aid association

by Andrea Hahn


Caption follows story

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Billie Jo Hamilton, director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's financial aid office, next month will become president-elect of the Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

The elected post is a three-year commitment, beginning this year. Hamilton will serve as president-elect for a year, then as president of the organization in 2008 and finally for a year as past-president.

The association is a multi-state organization formed to "foster and promote standards of professional preparation and ethical practices for the financial aid profession" through training programs and professional mentoring. The nine-state organization also seeks to improve financial resource use, partly through the cooperative efforts of its members.

"Our main focus is on the training of aid professionals," Hamilton said. "I plan to concentrate my efforts on developing programs that help keep new folks in the profession. We are seeing an aging of aid administrators, many of whom started in the early 1970s and are now contemplating retirement. I and many of my colleagues worry that there are not enough highly trained mid-level folks ready to fill vacated positions."

Generally, Hamilton explained, the association president represents aid administrators in the member states by serving on the board of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, which is the national financial aid lobbying group in Washington, D. C. The president also attends conferences in each of the organization member states to promote the work of the association.

"In this role, my school affiliation is always acknowledged, thus giving SIUC some national recognition in the field," she said. "I have been involved in professional association work my entire career. It is very rewarding to receive this type of recognition from your peer group, an indication they consider you a leader worthy of representing their positions. In this role, I will have an opportunity to promote SIUC and bring back the latest information concerning the financial programs, which should also benefit our students."

Hamilton noted that her election marks the third time in the 45-year history of the association that an SIUC financial aid director was elected president.

Hamilton became director of financial aid in 2005. She had previous professional experience at Missouri State University, University of Tennessee-Memphis and the University of Kansas Medical Center. She holds a bachelor's degree in marketing and a master's degree in business administration from Pittsburg State University.