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September 06, 1993|Researched by MIMI KO / Los Angeles Times

OCCUPATION: College Financial Aid Consultant

Name: Michael T. Blythe

Company: Educational Planning and Funding Services, Garden Grove

Thumbs up: "I sincerely enjoy educating families about how college financial aid works, finding them money and helping with selecting the best college for the student."

Thumbs down: "The only portion of this business that I sometimes dislike is negotiating with some college financial aid officers. At times, some can be very rigid and uncompromising in the administration of college policies."

Next step: "I want to help others get into this very exciting as well as emotionally and financially rewarding business. Also, it is my plan to assist well over 100 families this year with their college funding and selecting needs."

Advice: "People interested in this business need to become thoroughly competent in the federal needs analysis formula and understand the complexities of financial aid at both private and public colleges. Furthermore, they should enjoy working with families and acting as a counselor."

Salary range: Pay varies from about $25,000 to more than $70,000 a year depending on whether financial aid consultants work for a public or private institution or are self-employed.

Fringe benefits: Most employers offer paid vacations, medical, life and dental insurance and paid sick leave.

Hours: The average workweek is about 40 hours but it varies depending on the employer. Self-employed consultants set their own hours.

Educational and training requirements: Most financial aid advisers have bachelor's degrees or the equivalent. A business background and social service experience are desirable. Advisers must also possess a genuine interest in helping people.

Size of work force: Small. There are few self-employed consultants and college financial aid advisers in Orange County. Generally though, at least one can be found at each junior college, university and private learning and vocational institution.

Expected demand: Stable. Government regulations regarding financial aid are constantly changing and financial aid advisers are usually the people administrators would hate to lose. Employment in this occupation should remain the same over the next three years with modest growth possible.

Job description: Assess an applicant's financial aid eligibility. A federal need analysis or similar analysis is used to determine monetary need for federal or state funds, grants, scholarships, loans or work opportunities. Advisers also determine eligibility for scholarships based on academic merit, religious, athletic or professional affiliations or ethnicity. They then must determine all costs of the institution to which the applicant is applying and how much the family can contribute.

Major employing industries: Most jobs are found in colleges, universities or private consulting companies.

For more information: Call the California Assn. of Student Financial Aid Administrators' Job Hot Line at (818) 440-9469, which is updated monthly; or check the telephone book for private financial aid consulting firms.

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