Clemson’s financial aid department gained a new director, but she is no rookie to how the department operates.
Elizabeth Milam, who was the department’s senior associate director, assumed her new role during the summer. The longtime administrator has held multiple positions in financial aid, so she knows the ropes.
“I’ve been at Clemson for more than 30 years, most of them in the financial aid department,” Milam said. “I started as a counselor, and progressed all the way to director.”
The new director has big plans for her position and department. These goals range from enhancing usability and accessibility to the existing IROAR system, to beefing up IROAR’s security and meeting financial aid’s compliance standards. Milam knows that certain added security measures might be frustrating for parents, but it is necessary to protect students’ personal information and identity.
Milam also has plans for her employees in the financial aid department.
“My staff pours their hearts into their work,” Milam said. “My goal is to make sure they understand what a vital role they fulfill and that they are deeply appreciated, even through the tough decisions.”
Milam said that working in financial aid can be challenging, as employees must work with families in financial crisis with limited resources trying to figure out how they can afford a college education. Sometimes her employees must make tough decisions, as students may not qualify for the funds they need and deny incoming students crucial funds.
The financial aid director knows there are challenges ahead that come with the territory of a growing campus, but she is ready to adapt and meet these challenges head on. In the last five years alone, Milam said the number of undergraduate students with financial need has risen by approximately 1,000. She knows the financial aid department must evolve to meet the needs of a larger student body, but they cannot afford to lose the personal touch that has become synonymous with Clemson.
“I think it is important to understand Clemson’s legacies, processes, strengths and flaws,” Milam said about her plans for the department. “We want to improve, evolve, and become more inclusive, while honoring our traditions and maintaining our unique qualities.”