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Meet a College Finance Expert: Jan Combs

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Jan Combs

Written by Jan Combson May 23rd, 2023

I came to College Coach with nearly 30 years of related professional experiences. As a director of financial aid at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I determined student financial aid eligibility, oversaw a number of scholarship and fellowship programs, and worked closely with students to guide them through the financial aid application process and the many steps to enrollment. As an account executive at two national lenders, I worked closely with students and advised them on financial literacy related best practices as well as student loan repayment options and strategies. More recently as a high school guidance counselor, I assisted a diverse group of students with their college admission, financial aid, and scholarship applications. Supporting students and their families through each of those overwhelming processes was very rewarding. I was able to offer valuable assistance to students throughout the entire process, as well as guide them when making their final decisions as to where to attend college and how they would cover the college bill. Currently, I serve as a seminar facilitator for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), assisting families with both the college admissions process as well as the college financing process.
Learn More About Jan
Our Meet a College Finance Expert series introduces students and parents to members of the Bright Horizons College Coach finance team. Drop in to see what we do to relax, where we went to college, the best financial advice we’ve received, and how we work with families to navigate the college finance process. Whether you’re looking to appeal a financial aid offer, maximize merit scholarship opportunities, or spend your assets strategically, our college finance experts are here to help. Today we introduce Jan Combs. Where are you from, where have you lived, and where do you live now? I grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts and continue to live in the southeastern part of the state. What are you reading, watching, and/or listening to lately? I am currently reading Michelle Obama’s new book, The Light We Carry. I am watching Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Designated Survivor, and The Great British Baking Show. What do you do for fun or to relax? Favorite activities include hanging at the beaches on Cape Cod, hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and tubing on the Pemigewasset River. I also enjoy gardening, spinning, and jewelry making. Do you do any volunteer work? If so, what, and are there certain causes that are close to your heart? Right now I’m taking a break, but in the past I served as Co-Chair of FAFSADay in Massachusetts and served on the board of First and Ten, the booster club for my local high school football program. Where did you go to college? I earned my bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston University and a Master of Education at Cambridge College in psychology/school counseling. What would you like to go back and tell your high school self about the college application process? I would remind myself and everyone else that there is a college for everyone; options abound. Don’t worry about what your friends are doing, just follow the path that is best for you! What jobs did you have as a student? I was a cook at Papa Gino’s, worked in an art gallery, and was a tour guide at a local winery. Where did you work in financial aid? Any other relevant experience? I was an Assistant Director in the Financial Aid Office at Boston University and I was a Director of Financial Aid at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. I was also a Vice President of Education Finance at Citizens Bank and an Account Executive at the College Board’s Education Loan Program. How do you encourage families to incorporate financial fit into their college search? I strongly encourage families to have a keen sense of the net price of their college choices and to make a four-year plan for paying for college, taking into consideration the student’s future plans and others in the household. What aspect of the college finance and/or counseling process do you most enjoy working on? I love helping families develop a college list that is solid from an academic perspective, but also from a financial one. Being strategic up front can help families realize lower costs overall. What is the best financial advice you ever received? As a parent of three children, I was always reminded to budget and save for college as early as possible. To learn more about Jan, visit her bio.

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