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Dorothy Martin, Director of Financial Aid

By title, Dorothy Martin is director of financial aid at Vaughn College. That doesn't mean her job ends there.

"You're so many things to the students," Martin says. "You're a mother, father, counselor, mentor. Students confide in you, and you have to earn their trust."

Martin has been Vaughn's director of financial aid since 2006. She's worked at several other colleges over 20-plus years and loves helping students navigate the often labyrinthine world of financial aid.

If she has a specialty, it is helping students tap into overlooked sources of aid, including state and institutional grants for which they might consider themselves ineligible. Among the greatest challenges, she says, is getting students and families to recognize the value of completing the forms properly and on time.

"Nobody wants to talk about money. People naturally get tight-lipped," she says. "A lot of times people get frightened. We have to break it down for them."

Often, that breaking-down involves common-sense tips for managing debt. Things like paying anticipated student-loan interest while in school to minimize financial obligations after graduation.

Such advice is essential, Martin says, as students pursue their first jobs in an uncertain economy.

"I trust the financial aid staff to give students good debt-management advice," Martin says. "The idea is when students do graduate, they're not inundated with all that debt."

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