Executive Director of Financial Aid

Executive Director of Financial Aid

  • Full Time
  • Ithaca
Job Description:

Cornell University announces a national search for their next Executive Director of Financial Aid, and invites applications and nominations.

About the University

Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. The large and diverse community includes scholars, students, and staff who share the university’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement, summarized since its 1865 founding in the motto “any person, any study.”  The main campus in Ithaca, New York, home to thirteen wide-ranging Cornell schools and colleges, anchors a broad environmental and global reach with medical college campuses on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Doha, Qatar, as well as the Cornell Tech campus located on Roosevelt Island in the heart of New York City. Cornell offers a rich array of services, programs, and benefits to help employees advance in their career and enhance the quality of personal life, including employee wellness, workshops, childcare and adoption assistance, parental leave, and flexible work options.

About the Position

Cornell University seeks a dynamic, innovative, and thoughtful leader to serve as its next Executive Director of Financial Aid. Reporting to the Vice Provost for Enrollment, the director will lead a team of more than 30 financial aid professionals in offering comprehensive financial aid and student employment programs that award hundreds of millions of dollars annually in support of the university’s need-blind admission policy and need-based financial aid policy. This position presents a significant opportunity to lead during a period of planned enrollment growth and expanding financial aid, socioeconomic diversity, and affordability commitments at one of the country’s most commended, generous, and rigorously successful institutions.

The Executive Director will work closely with the Vice Provost for Enrollment and other campus leadership to establish effective financial aid policies, practices, and communications strategies, and provide leadership in the national conversation on access and affordability in higher education. The Executive Director will work within the Enrollment Division (including admissions, registrar, compliance and design, systems, and communications leaders) to ensure that both current and prospective Cornell families understand Cornell’s affordability and substantial financial aid commitment as they navigate the college process and experience. The Executive Director will also work collaboratively with many on- and off-campus partners, building strong, transparent relationships and representing the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment.

Required Qualifications

  • Master’s degree and advanced training/accreditations, with at least seven years of experience in higher education or equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Demonstrated understanding of Federal, State, and University scholarship and grant programs, methodologies, practices, and laws;
  • Proven experience designing, directing, and leading complex organizations and programs;
  • Managerial, leadership, and employee development experience;
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational, presentation, written, and oral communication skills;
  • Strong customer-service orientation and experience providing high-caliber support to students and families;
  • Demonstrated ability to develop effective working relationships and to work in a collaborative fashion with students, parents, University leadership, faculty, and staff;
  • Demonstrated commitment to identifying and eliminating policies and processes that can impede access, equity, and inclusion in higher education;
  • Action-oriented approach and ability to work independently;
  • Ability to handle confidential material with discretion and professionalism;
  • Experience leading/directing a financial aid or equally complex and student-serving function.


Preferred Qualifications

  • Working knowledge of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and other related technologies;
  • Experience in a large, decentralized, multi-location research university;
  • Expert-level knowledge of significant federal student aid programs/requirements including Title IV, FERPA, GI Bill, and Federal School Code;
  • Experience with institutional methodologies in needs analysis, including those supported by the College Scholarship Service (CSS Profile)
  • Demonstrated experience with external compliance audits (Uniform Guidance) preferred;
  • Experience with student employment management, related student and career development, and employment law;
  • Strong working knowledge of Department of Education and other professional resources.


How to Apply

Interested candidates should send a cover letter describing their interest in and qualifications for the position and a resume electronically to EDFACU@wspelman.com. The subject line in the email should be EDFACU. Confidential inquiries may be made by contacting Megan Spelman by email to Megan@wspelman.com or by telephone at 585-366-4329.  For full consideration, all application material should be submitted by March 15, 2021.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.



Cornell University

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Application Deadline:

Accept Electronic Resumes


To apply for this job email your details to EDFACU@wspelman.com