Ten questions, ten answers – with Bill Bushaw, Financial Aid Director for Western Illinois University and recipient of the Nelnet Full Circle Award.

Nelnet understands that making educational dreams possible is a process, and the Financial Aid Office is often where students begin their journey. Recently we had the opportunity to ask Mr. Bushaw, recepient of the Nelnet Full Circle Award, a few questions about the process.


Nelnet: What is your biggest challenge as a Financial Aid Director?


Bushaw: My greatest challenge in recent years has been to find adequate financial resources for both students and for the office operation.

You’ve received this award based on excellence in the financial aid arena. How do you feel your approach may differ from others?

Bushaw: We have been fortunate in keeping our focus on three simple goals. The most important is our commitment to providing excellent student service. Student service is followed by providing award notification as early as possible, and providing the best financial aid package that we are able to hand-out, based on the resources available.

Are there any notable contributions you feel you’ve made to the financial aid field on a professional level, i.e., committees, leadership positions, contributions, etc?

Bushaw: I have served in several executive positions and have chaired various committees at both the State and Regional level.

Nelnet: How has financial aid changed over the course of your career? What do you foresee in terms of the future for the Financial Aid Office?

Bushaw: Financial aid has changed dramatically since I started. At that time, computers were just beginning to be used. Now, we do most of our business on the Web and through e-communication. As for the future, expect continual change. I could envision a point where Financial Aid Counselors would do more in the area of financial management.

Nelnet: What gives you the most enjoyment in your chosen field?

Bushaw: I get the most enjoyment out of providing excellent customer service, reducing the bureaucracy that students face, providing early award notifications, and looking for niche programs or applications for our financial aid use.

Nelnet: What significance does receiving the Full Circle Award have for you?

Bushaw: It is a great tribute to the WIU Financial Aid Office.

What trends are you noticing in financial aid?

Bushaw: I have noticed that the issue of affordability has received greater attention. In addition, there has been a greater reliance on financing one's education through loans, especially PLUS and Alternative loans.

Nelnet: How many years have you served in the financial aid arena?

Bushaw: 35 years.

Nelnet: Are there....family, friends, mentors, and coworkers you'd like to thank?

Bushaw: There are too many to recognize in this interview. However, I'd like to single out the financial aid advisors and support staff at Western Illinois University.

Nelnet: What is your favorite quote and/or motivational or inspirational line?

Bushaw: Coach John Wooden (of UCLA fame) has always been a favorite of mine. He was noted for giving much attention to basics and in believing that people have great responsibility of their own destiny. Two quotes that demonstrate this are:

"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." and "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turnout."

To nominate a Financial Aid Officer for the Full Circle Award, Nelnet school representatives, coworkers, or other college offices can write a one paragraph nomination letter outlining how the nominee exemplifies the criteria for the award, and e-mail it to nelnetcommunications@nelnet.net, or mail it to
Nelnet Communications, Attn: Sheila Odom, 121 S. 13th St., Suite 400, Lincoln, NE 68508.


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