It's rare to meet anyone as passionate about financial aid administration as Nathan Bauer, Michigan Law's new financial aid director. He joins the Law School from the University of Michigan's central Office of Financial Aid, where he served as assistant director. He also is a doctoral candidate at the U-M School of Education, studying public policy in postsecondary education.
Bauer's professional and academic interest in the field began as a financial aid recipient during his undergraduate years when his experience navigating the financial aid system left him with a desire to make changes on an administrative level. "I have a passion to make the process easier for everybody else than it was for me—it's a huge driver. I've been in students' shoes. I understand how frustrating and complex financial aid can be and I can distill it down to something that is easy to interpret for busy students," said Bauer.
"Financial aid is an extraordinarily important piece of the law school experience. The amount of time and mental energy students can afford to spend on financial aid issues is pretty minimal in such a rigorous program," he expanded. "I help students understand the long- term implications of financing their education while also balancing their immediate needs with their ultimate career aspirations."
Bauer looks forward to working with students and recent alumni to identify ways he and his team can improve the financial aid experience. He also plans to work behind the scenes to anticipate student needs and make the experience easier on the front end, joking that "if you don't know who your financial aid contact is, it's probably a good thing because it's a sign the process is going smoothly."
"As cliche as it sounds, financial aid gives students the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Many students, myself included, would not have enrolled in our schools of choice if it was not for financial aid. It's such an important vehicle for students to achieve their academic goals," said Bauer. "These students are going to be doing great things outside of the classroom for years to come. To be a part of that process and to know that I've helped them achieve their goals—it's a great feeling."