Indiana State University Newsroom

New Director of Financial Aid appointed

February 16, 2018

Donna Simmonds, Indiana State University's new director of the Office of Student Financial Aid, knows the value of being a Sycamore.

The two-time State alumna has balanced building a career with being a non-traditional student since shortly after coming on board as a loan processor in 2005.

"Donna's commitment to student success, knowledge of federal and state regulations and leadership ability provided the perfect set of skills necessary to manage a complex operation. Without question, Donna is the best person to lead the Office of Student Financial Aid for many years to come," said John Beacon, senior vice president of enrollment management, marketing, and communications.

Simmonds came to State after a decade in the banking industry and initially considered her position a job. She quickly changed her mind.

"I thought, this could turn into more than just a job. This could be a career," she said. And it did just that.

Knowing she'd need a degree to advance, Simmonds started taking a couple of classes each semester. She completed her bachelor's in business administration in 2011 and was promoted to loan supervisor in 2012.

"Behind the scenes in our processing and systems area is where all the magic happens in Financial Aid, but I wanted to be more of that student-facing person," she said.

Simmonds became a financial aid counselor in 2013 and was promoted to coordinator in 2015. Months later, she became assistant director.

Simmonds once again returned to the classroom, this time to earn a master's degree in human resources development in 2016. "I know how hard it is as a non-traditional student, but it can be done," she said.

In summer 2017, Simmonds was tapped for a new challenge -- this time as interim director following the departure of Crystal Baker, who left for another opportunity.

Simmonds says one of her favorite parts of her work is training new advisors for New Student Orientation. "You're teaching them these things, and a month later, you're watching as they help families troubleshoot their FAFSA or navigate financial aid."

The Office of Student Financial Aid is fortunate to have many other career veterans on staff, Simmonds said, and every employee works to help students, whether they're behind the scenes or in front of the student. Everything they do -- or don't do -- affects students, she said.

"Financial Aid is one of those career paths that are found almost by accident -- most start off like I did and find their passion. Helping students navigate what can be a complex and sometimes intimidating process is the most rewarding part of the job," Simmonds said.

"I am fortunate to have found my passion early on at State and am thankful for the opportunities I have been afforded, mentors who have helped me along the way -- specifically, John Beacon, Diann McKee, Richard Toomey and Domenic Nepote -- and the amazing team in the Financial Aid Office."


Story Highlights

Donna Simmonds is a two-time State alumna who has balanced building a career with being a non-traditional student since shortly after coming on board as a loan processor in 2005.

See Also:

Natural world exhibit on display at State this summer

‘War of the Worlds’ opens July 13

‘Steel Magnolias’ kicks off Crossroads Rep’s season

Top seniors honored

Indiana State, Brazilian MBA students explore Uber’s international expansion

Dean selected to lead College of Graduate and Professional Studies