Dr. Rolf Wegenke Dr. Rolf Wegenke
Dr. Rolf Wegenke, WAICU President

It has been said that the age of heroes is over. From the myths of ancient Greece to the Norse legends to the 1950s comic books, there have been a multitude of heroes. Heroes are the ones who accomplish great things and (frequently) rescue those in dire straits. In some cases, heroes also have extraordinary powers – powers which make their accomplishments seem less extraordinary (if I could just “leap tall buildings in a single bound” flying to the rescue would be an everyday occurrence).

Today, whether it is because of growing skepticism or cynicism or because the contemporary would-be heroes have “feet of clay,” heroes are hard to find, and those who claim to have found one are greeted with snickers, sighs, and rolling eyes.

Well, prepare to roll those eyes, because I want to highlight and express gratitude to some heroes on college campuses; heroes who work incredibly hard and accomplish great things to advance a great cause. I am speaking of our financial aid directors and professionals. I have never seen them in dramatic capes or riding in a tickertape parade, and, for all I know, they have feet of clay, but their commitment to opening doors for students and expanding educational opportunity is unparalleled.

Recently, the IRS system used to verify students’ need, was taken off-line. This meant that financial aid directors had to wade through multiple calculations for thousands of students to make sure they qualified for the federal and state grant aid they had earned. I heard not one financial aid director who complained or who shirked his or her responsibilities. I am not just talking one or two students either; I am talking about thousands upon thousands, students who have the skills and abilities to succeed in college but do not have the means and would not receive help without these heroic efforts by financial aid administrators.

WAICU’s mission is: “Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities working together for educational opportunity.” The Wisconsin Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (WASFAA) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) also are committed to educational opportunity. Contrary to what some falsely charge, financial aid professionals are not trying to keep anyone from receiving help. Just the opposite.

NASFAA’s Statement of Ethical Principles holds that these professionals’ primary purpose is to “help students achieve their educational goals through financial support and resources with a commitment to removing financial barriers. We should assume the obligation to never leave money on the table that could be awarded to needy students, no matter the administrative burden.”

Accomplishing great things! Rescuing those in dire straits! HEROES!