Helping Students Finance Their Education
For many people, filling out yearly income taxes is the highest stress point of the financial year. When you add the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the stress of paying for higher education, it takes an expert to help students navigate. As BTC’s Financial Aid Manager, Craig Shultz supports a team of dedicated financial aid experts who connect students and their families with financial resources to fund their education. These resources include grants, loans, scholarships, veteran benefits, and others from federal, state, and private sources.
According to Inside Higher Ed, 40% of students who opted not to attend their first choice of college or university said it was financial. This makes the financial aid team of any institute of higher learning invaluable to making college a possibility for students, which is why Craig strives to foster a supportive environment and endeavors to meet students where they are.
“I remember how confusing the financial aid process was when I was in college. I had no idea what was going on,” Craig said. “At BTC, that’s not what we want for our students, so we strive to maximize our availability and to communicate effectively. We want our students to be comfortable in reaching out to us with any questions that they may have. We want our students to see us as their partners in the financial aid process from their first financial aid application, through graduation and beyond.”
Previous to his work as a financial aid expert, Craig started his career as an audio engineer. “I loved music and played guitar in several ‘garage bands’ in high school,” he explained, “as well as trombone in middle and high school ensembles. I didn’t have the talent to make a career as a performer, but I knew that I wanted to be around music, even if it was on ‘the other side of the glass.’”
After graduating from UW Oshkosh with a Bachelor of Music, he packed up and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. After a stint in the music industry as an audio editor and engineer, Craig switched gears and landed his first job in financial aid. “After 18 years in Nashville,” he said, “I jumped at the opportunity to move back to Wisconsin to join the team at Blackhawk.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on how Craig has spent his time at BTC. He started here in April of 2020 and has spent a large portion of his first few months on the job studying the CARES Act and administering the disbursement of CARES funding to students. He’s eager to be able to meet more students face-to-face on our campuses.
The financial aid department has made some changes to increase accessibility during the pandemic. The staff is now available at the central campus until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and until 4:30 on Friday. They’re also open on the first Saturday of each month from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. For students who prefer to meet in a virtual format, they’ve set up a “Zoom Room” for drop-ins and appointments. Students can find the Financial Aid Office in Starfish for more information about that Zoom Room.
Craig’s biggest advice to students needing help with any part of their education is to communicate. “If you need help in understanding your financial aid package, ask us to go over it with you. If you feel like you’re falling behind in your courses, talk to your advisor. If you’re unsure where to turn for help, visit the Welcome Center or give us a call, and we’ll connect you with the appropriate resource. The primary role of literally every faculty and staff member is to support you as you pursue your educational and career aspirations. You just have to let us know when you need a little help or guidance.”