Meet the Board Members: Sara Vancil has fun with Tenses – Current Past President

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?

What has affected me most in the twelve years I have been in aid is how much the profession demands of us.  It can be completely daunting to stay up to date on hundreds of nuanced rules and regulations, not to mention our financial aid systems, and working in an environment where there’s never enough money to go around, either for us or for students.  It is very rewarding, but also very challenging.  To that end, the thing that I have seen change for the positive is that the vocation of being a Financial Aid Administrator has become more professionalized, thanks to NASFAA’s work with credentials and the new CFAA certification. 

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

First and foremost, I want others to view me as someone they can trust and rely on.  I would tell new folks to make themselves reliable, competent, and easy to work with.  I view these as keys to being successful.  In addition, financial aid is an occupation that is extremely knowledge driven.  I think everyone who takes a job in our world needs to make a commitment to ongoing training and content review to be truly effective.

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?

Yes, I’ve had numerous mentors in KASFAA and RMASFAA.  The best mentors encourage you to get involved, give you kudos when you do well, and help reassure you when you’re scared.  The confidence that others have in me is something I cherish very much.

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

I don’t know that I see it being hugely different than it is now.  Perhaps the HEA will be reauthorized and will change some of the programs and processes we all work with and around.  But the day to day mission of helping students afford college won’t change.  The regulations and compliance issues will still be there, maybe just in slightly different flavors.  I think we’ll continue to see calls for our institutions to be more and more accountable and transparent with students and families.

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

My slowest time of year is September and October.  I spend that time of year updating P&Ps and catching up on webinars and trainings.  And luckily, the RMASFAA conference is in October so I usually get to squeeze a trip in there to see friends and colleagues!  Day to day, if I’m working on something relatively mindless, I like to listen to stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.  I find I don’t have to be watching, just listening, to keep up and unlike a book or podcast, if I miss a joke, chances are I’ll still understand then next one!

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

I’m horrible with these questions and all variations like which famous person I’d have dinner with, living or dead.  I just go blank!  I admire people who change the world in whatever way they can, big or small.

Any thing exciting you’d like to share….

As I was writing this, my daughter made her seventeenth million batch of slime.  What is it with kids and slime?

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

Getting involved with KASFAA has been a way to expand my leadership and strategic planning skills.  I first got involved, however, to meet people and make connections.

What positions have you held with KASFAA and what has been your favorite so far?

I’ve been on a few different committees over the years.  My first chair role was with Publicity & Awareness.  I have served on the Board as Vice-President, Secretary, President-Elect, President and currently Past President.  My year as Vice-President was a lot of work but it was super fun because I planned two conferences with my super cool friend, Brenda Hicks.

Sara Vancil

University of Kansas

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