15 Oct Reflections on ten years of Financial Aid Day
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 marks the tenth year of celebrating National Financial Aid Day!
The Father of Financial Aid Day
If you’ve ever attended a financial aid association conference, be it a regional or national one, you might already know Neville Brown. He’s the guy from Connecticut who proudly stands up in the conference general session and asks the tough questions. According to Neville, “In every crowd, when someone speaks up to ask a question, they’re asking for more than one person”.
When he speaks, he stands up, but not just to speak. Neville has been a financial aid administrator for nearly twenty-five years, and he has seen a lot. From students struggling to balance work and college life, to others facing hardship like homelessness or hunger, he’s been on a career-long mission to help students realize their college dreams and to be an active voice for them at every opportunity. Whether he’s on campus or advocating in Washington DC, he stands up.
When Neville first thought about running for President of the Eastern Association of Financial Aid Administrators (EASFAA), he knew he was ready to stand up and lead. As EASFAA President (2010-2011), he called on his fellow financial aid administrators to mentor people into careers in the financial aid office. He also called on his colleagues to give back to the profession through volunteerism and charged them with fighting mediocrity and the status quo, and to seek out more and better ways to improve, for the benefit of the students they serve. He had a vision to create a professional certification for financial aid administrators, a concept that was later adopted by the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). He recognized that working in the financial aid office required specific knowledge and experience to do the job right and he worked to elevate the dignity of the profession and respect for those who work so tirelessly on behalf of college going students. These are just some of the ways he has stood up for others but establishing a day to recognize and celebrate the work that financial aid administrators do, is perhaps his most well-known achievement.
On October 20, 2010 Neville and his colleagues in EASFAA celebrated the very first “Financial Aid Day” (FAD). The first “National Financial Aid Day “was celebrated the following year on October 24, 2011 when New York State Congress Member Timothy Bishop proclaimed that the third Wednesday in October shall be reserved to “Honor the role financial aid professionals across the United States play in helping students realize their dream of attaining a college education” officially recognizing National Financial Aid Day in the Congressional Record. That’s how Neville became known as The Father of Financial Aid Day.
As Neville said, We Should Celebrate Today!
This year share your National Financial Aid Day celebrations with your colleagues around the country on social media. Be sure to tag your state, regional and national financial aid association in your photos on Facebook and let us know how your office is recognizing your contribution to the financial aid profession. Join your colleagues on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Use the #FinancialAidDay and #FinancialAidDay2019 to tag your posts and photos.
Happy 10th Financial Aid Day!
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Neville about this auspicious occasion and I asked him to share his reflections on ten years of Financial Aid Day and what this day means to him.
“We shouldn’t wait to celebrate until ten years, twenty years or fifty years. We should celebrate today.
On FAD, in my office, typically we have potluck, and everyone brings in stuff to eat. I bring in my camera of course and take lots of pictures and I am supposed to give the big speech. How it came about and why it’s important, and we always have a cake. I have a big flower made out of fabric material that was made by our Director’s mother. It says Happy Financial Aid Day and I put that out for everyone to see. We spend most of the day snacking and at lunch time we all eat together (in between students and other duties). Our campus puts it on the monitors around campus and mentions it in the announcements so the whole campus knows that it’s a special day, and I get a lot of emails. I enjoy all of the emails and photos I receive from friends and colleagues around the country sharing in the celebration.
To me, helping students realize their college dreams is the most rewarding part of being a financial aid administrator.
I would have never been able to go to college if someone didn’t help me get a scholarship. Back in Jamaica, where I’m originally from. I went to a somewhat prestigious high school. I was on a half scholarship and at the time my father paid the other half of tuition. Shortly after I started attending, my father lost his very prestigious job and could not find another job that lived up to what he had before. It was mean times and I watched my father struggle. The principal of my high school became like a second father to me. He made it possible for me to continue on and I will never forget that. It’s my duty and obligation to show my appreciation. If I can help a student or their family walk out of my office feeling better than they felt when they walked in, that’s what it’s all about.
I have a quote I’ve adopted, and I tell it to people: “Lead your life in dreams of how you would like to be remembered.” If you want to be remembered as a person who impacted the life of someone, someone who impacted others’ lives positively, that’s how you conduct yourself. You stand up. So, every day that’s why I get up, that’s what I shoot for.”
Neville Brown is the Associate Director of Financial Aid at Eastern Connecticut State University. He has served in various capacities for the Connecticut Association of Professional Financial Aid Administrators (CAPFAA) in addition to service as Vice President (04/06) and President (10/11) of the Eastern Association of Financial Aid Administrators (EASFAA). He also served NASFAA Board of Directors.