Meet the Board Member – Crystal DeLong – Associate Member Representative

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?

So I moved to the lender side 2.5 years ago but spent the 18 years prior working in financial aid offices (starting at FHSU).  A LOT has changed in that time but I would tell you the 2 most impactful things that kept me in the aid office and have me still working in the industry are as follows:

  1. YOU!  These professional organizations have been a second family over the years and I have laughed, cried, vented, learned and stuck around because of all the fun.  KASFAA and other associations helped me learn my passion and gave me a support group to get through all the changes and challenging times.
  2. STUDENTS!  Helping students and parents see there is a way.  Helping them accomplish their goals and follow their dreams.  Seeing the excitement and energy on the 1st week of school and at graduation ceremonies literally brings tears to my eyes!  We really do make a difference!!!!

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

With compassion, empathy, a smile and lots of practice at taking deep breaths!  J  This world is soooooooo rewarding but also so challenging.  It’s almost a guarantee that you will get frustrated at some point and feel overwhelmed but in the words of Dory, “Just Keep Swimming”!  You are a world changer now and don’t take it lightly the impact your work has on future generations.

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?

Craig Karlin at Fort Hays State University was my first boss.  He dealt with my immaturity of being a 22 year old working at my alma mater, he taught me how to network by introducing me to some of the best people in the KASFAA and RMASFAA regions.  He showed me how to stay calm in the fires of financial aid.  And most importantly he showed me what it was to be a great boss and when I was a Director I think a lot of my management style was a direct reflection of him!!  Thanks Craig!

AND the one and only infamous Brenda Hicks…..Let’s just say she was on speed dial when I started as a Director at a small private University in MO at the age of 27!  I don’t think she realizes how much I appreciate all of the quick calls and emails that helped me figure out how to be a Director and how to master PowerFaids!!!  THANKS BRENDA!!! 

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally?

I admire soooo many people personally and professionally.  It’s really hard for me to pick just one.  But I will tell you that I lost an uncle to covid this past year who was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met.  He was a hard headed, God-loving, strong willed, stubborn goofball and I didn’t realize just how much I truly admired him until he wasn’t here with us anymore.  RIP Uncle Paul, you are a legend in my eyes!

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

That’s a great question!  I was in KASFAA from 2005-2010 and can’t remember what I did on the board or committees back then exactly.  But I have recently been the Corporate Support Chair and Associate Delegate.  I’ve served on KASFAA, RMASFAA, MASFAP, and MASFAA in a variety of roles every year I’ve been in the industry and I don’t plan on stopping!!!  Oh, and I’m currently Summer Institute Chair for RMASFAA for 2022!!!  Hope to see you there! 😉

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

I LOVE this career!  And I love sharing my favorite little man on many of our KASFAA zoom calls.  My 19 month old Tate is my #1 man these days (don’t tell my husband!) and he brings a smile to my face every day!

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