Steven Foster is a proud Michigan Wolverine graduate. He acknowledges the role that campus financial aid advocates have played in his academic and career success.
“I am impressed with where I am today based on my foundational experiences – learning how financial aid could help me achieve my goals was one of them,” he said. declared. “I had the grades – I was in the Top 10 in my high school – but not the access. Not everyone is in a situation where their parents can write a check. UM knows this and has strong advocates in its financial aid office.
Now, Foster directs UM-Dearborn’s Financial Aid Office. The Director of Financial Aid took up his new position on May 2.
With 17 years in the financial aid field, Foster has worked for institutions of higher learning including UM-Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, and Kettering University. At Kettering, his last employer, he ran their financial aid office. He holds an undergraduate degree from UM-Ann Arbor and a graduate degree from Wayne State University.
At his Detroit high school, Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, Foster focused on business. In the first cycle, it was English and writing. As a graduate student, he studied education. Foster said all of these seemingly unrelated pieces worked well together to help her connect underrepresented students to resources.
“It’s important to remember that financial aid is a foreign language if you don’t know it. It can feel like a maze to navigate as a new student. I remember feeling that and I remember people helping me put everything in order,” he said. “Defenders are those who go beyond the checklist. They make sure you understand the difference between a loan and a grant in a way that is relevant to you and the impact these things will have on your life. They inform you of the scholarships you are eligible for and check if you have applied. They are the defenders. They are people who are passionate about their work to make a difference in someone’s life.
As someone who relied on financial help as a young Wolverine, Foster also remembers the kind of guidance he needed. He said holistic financial aid advice goes beyond getting a question answered — it’s about anticipating needs and next steps.
“Students will ask when their refund is coming. But, as people who have been through this, we need to help them think more holistically. Of course, when the refund arrives is important. It’s also important to think beyond the present moment,” he said. “Let them know when the refund is coming, but also remind them that the money needs to be managed to last for five months. Ask students to think about what it needs to cover to achieve their educational goals. Some students may already be doing this, but others may still be learning how to budget and plan. »
He said the field of financial aid can be stressful when it comes to connecting people to the opportunities they need while balancing institutional budgets. But seeing the students he worked with go through the beginning stage keeps him motivated and inspired. Foster said her family, especially her nine-year-old son Steven, also helps her stay focused on what’s important.
“We are the stewards to help students and their families gain an education so they can change their lives now and into the future for the next generation,” he said.
When it comes to remembering the people who made it happen for him professionally, he said it goes back to his Wolverine roots.
In addition to financial aid mentors, Foster remembers the energy Tyrone Winfrey Sr., then UM-Ann Arbor Admissions Director, brought to his high school classroom. He said the awareness and access of UM staff has changed his life. And, in turn, Foster is focused on doing what he can to build educational bridges.
“Coming to UM-Dearborn is like coming home. I am Go Blue through and through and our campus mission is true to my heart,” he said. “I look forward to work with the broader campus community on access, affordability and student success initiatives.Because the success of our students is our success, it is a shared responsibility.