Meet the Board Members: Talking to Tony Tanking

As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

The biggest impact for me is the genuine expression of gratitude we see from those students/parents that tell us how grateful they are for our help in making their education dreams come true.

The biggest change I have seen has been more gradual, but it’s involvement of the parents in the FA process, and not in a positive manner. We continue to see more and more parents completing their student’s requirements (entrance counseling, signing MPN’s, etc.) for them rather than going through it with them to teach them about the process. I fear this path will continue to disable our students in their “life lessons.”

What and/or who placed you in the financial aid industry? Was this your career path?

I spent 20 years in the business world prior to entering the realm of FA. The opportunity to get into FA kind of fell into my lap. I was looking for a change, and a job posting at my current institution came up on my email. I thought to myself “I can do that.” I applied and got the job as Director and the rest, as they say, is history.

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?

Make sure you enjoy what you are doing! Yes there are going to be days that aren’t as good as others, but at the end of each day, if you can say, “I really like what I do,” then you are on the right track.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

My first mentor was Carla Boren. She was serving as interim Director when I came in at Benedictine. Her focus was helping me to learn the regs. We’d take the FSA Handbook to lunch and go over different areas of the book my first 2 weeks on the job.

Then there is everyone’s mentor…Jeanne Mott. We hit it off right away. Jeanne was great in that we never felt any tensions with each other, even though our schools were competing for students. She continually suggested I get involved with KASFAA and RMASFAA. Her prodding led me to running to be KASFAA President. She is one of my most valued friends.

Finally, there is Myra Pfannenstiel. Her outgoing friendship showed me the enthusiasm and genuine caring we need to show as we carry on our daily duties. Thanks “Sis!”

How do you see this profession in 5 years? 10 years?

We will have to continue to improve how we communicate with our customers. With new regs and requirements coming out annually, we will be challenged with getting the right information to/from the right individuals for the right situations for many years to come, in my opinion. JOB SECURITY!!!

How do you pass the time, when/if there is a lull?

Listen to music. It can be very calming and can put you in a different mood. Sometimes it’s needed!

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

I admire everyone who has chosen Student Financial Aid profession for their career choice. Having an impact on two of a parent’s most valued possessions (their children and their money) can be very challenging and extremely rewarding. What other profession requires one to be counselor/auditor/mathematician/compliance officer/accountant/fortune teller all wrapped up in one package? Pretty awesome make-up if you ask me.

What do you dislike doing? Professionally or personally or both?

Seeing people post negative comments online. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with a person’s statements or positions on any topic, respect the rights of others to the same freedom of speech that you possess. If you think there is too much hate in the world, don’t add to it. It would be wonderful if the world would adopt the old saying that our parents/grandparents always said, “If you don’t have anything positive to say, then don’t say anything at all!” Maybe I’m just getting old myself.  

What do you like to do in your free time, either Indoors or Outdoors?

Playing golf and camping in the summer. Spending time with my wife. We are starting to do a little travelling on mini-vacations to get away for “just us.” Spending time with my grandkids.

What gets you excited about life?

My family (current and extended). Knowing that if they ever need my help, they can count on me to help them. “That’s what family do!” This extends to my FA family too. I have made so many friends through KASFAA/RMASFAA that I can honestly say that I am blessed.

What’s your favorite time of day?

The evening hours. I can either mow my lawn, or see my grandkids, or just enjoy the sun going down, knowing that another successful day is winding down.

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

Just found out my youngest daughter will be having a little girl (their first) this October. This will be grandchild #6 (3 boys and now 3 girls). All are under the age of 7. There’s no better feeling to touch your heart than when they see you, run to you yelling “Poppa” and knowing their excitement to see you is genuine. Wouldn’t it be cool if our students did that? (Not the Poppa part, but you get my drift)



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