Staff Voice: Reducing Financial Barriers to Education | MSUToday

Photo by Emily Farrell.

Marcia Pung has worked in the financial aid office at Michigan State University for over 30 years. The office is responsible for administering more than $680 million in federal aid each academic year. Specifically, Pung is working on Direct loans issued by the US Department of Education. Subsidized Direct Loans and Unsubsidized Direct Loans are made through the federal William D. Ford Direct Loan Program and are provided to nearly 16,000 MSU students each year.


Navigating the complex guidelines surrounding federal student loans is difficult, especially for new students who may be managing their finances for the very first time. I like being able to help people. Sometimes that’s not the information they want to hear. Still, I want them to have all the information they need to make a decision.

I am a player in a big team. The Financial Aid Office has approximately 50 employees, all of whom work to support students. There are many different roles in the office, but they are all essential. We collaborate on a daily basis; a student may come for advice, but the advisor may need to contact a few different people to help resolve the issue.

Over the years, the federal student loan process has changed. It has become more automated and there are new systems and new regulations. We use all of these experiences to develop skill sets that enable us to help students more effectively and efficiently. It is about collaborating with each other and with outside organizations to find solutions.

Everyone who works in the financial aid field is passionate about helping students reduce or eliminate financial barriers to education and will do anything in their power to help a student. We all want them to be able to achieve their goals. I am proud to have spent my entire career surrounded by such dedicated people.

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