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Helen Faith elected to chair National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

February 2, 2022 By Karla Weber Wandel

Helen Faith, UW–Madison’s director of student financial aid, has been elected to serve as the 2023-24 national chair of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).

NASFAA is the only national, nonprofit association with a primary focus on information dissemination, professional development, and legislative and regulatory analysis related to federal student aid programs. Its membership consists of more than 32,000 student financial assistance professionals at nearly 3,000 institutions, serving nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the U.S.

Studio portrait of Helen Faith

Helen Faith

“I admire Helen’s ability to keep students at the forefront of public policy while also thinking about pragmatic policy implementation and look forward to working with her in our time ahead,” says NASFAA President Justin Draeger.

Faith is a certified financial aid administrator with more than 20 years of experience at two- and four-year institutions, both public and private. Since August 2020, she has worked closely with campus partners and various stakeholders to continue expanding access and affordability to Wisconsin students while leading her team through an ongoing period of unprecedented uncertainty and change in a hybrid environment. She has overseen the distribution of more than $35 million in federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants to students impacted by COVID-19 and led cross-campus efforts to support undergraduates without traditional familial support.

Students like Sadie Stelter, a fourth-year English and Art History major, attest to the impact of Faith’s work. “Helen has made such a difference in my college career in the very short time I’ve known her,” Stelter says. “She has shown me a kindness that financially struggling students like me rarely receive and has earned my trust and respect. The work she does helps students enormously, and she has made a huge difference in my life.”

Faith is also a leader in advancing improvements in policy, practice and funding for student financial aid. She launched programs and resources to help UW students, alumni and employees navigate the temporary Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver, and her extensive knowledge of policy and regulations has been a critical resource for colleagues and policy advocates alike. She has lent her expertise in the federal negotiated rulemaking process for the U.S. Department of Education and to organizations like NASFAA and Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (WASFAA). In 2021, Faith was elected to serve as a representative-at-large to NASFAA’s board of directors and currently serves as a mentor for NASFAA’s award-winning Diversity Leadership Program, which she helped develop. In her work with organizations like NASFAA, she has connected academic researchers with financial aid practitioners to collaborate on recognizing and addressing bias in financial aid administration.

As the national chair, Faith will oversee the work of the NASFAA board, committees, and task forces. The national chair works closely with the NASFAA president and staff to set priorities and coordinate initiatives to promote student access and success in higher education.

“Helen’s leadership comes at a crucial time in federal policymaking where her commitment to equity and research will be put to effective use,” says Nick Hillman, professor in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and director of the Student Success Through Applied Research (SSTAR) Lab.

“For Helen to have this opportunity is a testament to her commitment and the respect she holds amongst peers,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “It’s an honor for UW­–Madison and Wisconsin to have someone from our team leading the way, not just on the financial aid profession and future policy, but on access and affordability for all students.”

Faith was also recently admitted into UW­–Madison’s Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis program to earn her doctorate. She holds a master’s degree in educational policy, foundations and administration from Portland State University and a bachelor’s degree with honors in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.