WSU’s financial aid program can attribute its status as one of the nation’s finest largely to the efforts of Lola Finch.
Upon joining in 1967 as a financial aid counselor, Finch rose through the ranks and in 1988 was named director of grants and special projects within the Division of Student Affairs. Later, she was named interim director of the Office of Student Financial Aid. Her responsibilities in these latter two positions included seeking external funding support for programs and the facilitation and coordination of university-wide early awareness initiatives. She had other job titles – all with major financial aid responsibilities – over the course of her career and was instrumental in transforming the program into what it is today.
The Pullman native grew up on her family’s farm twelve miles outside of town, which had been homesteaded by her grandmother. She felt fortunate to enroll as a Washington State College student in ‘51. Finch enjoyed the intimacy of the smaller school and the sense of community it provided. She fondly remembers the friendships she established as a student, being a Greek, and her leadership role within the Association of Women Students. That same leadership position was a significant influence in preparing her for a professional career at WSU. Finch was named outstanding senior woman before graduating with honors in ‘55. She also received a Master of Arts in Higher Education in ‘73.
Finch doesn’t recall having any hard times as a student, but says working within the financial aid department had its challenges, especially as the program grew. But those challenges were met with great finesse, as both she and the program flourished. When Finch retired in ‘95, she was saluted by WSU president Samuel H. Smith for “positively impacting the lives of thousands of students.”
Finch’s career also included memberships with the WSU Student Affairs Enrollment Management Team, and seats on the National Advisory Board to Sallie Mae, NASFAA Task Force on Institutional Leadership, Board of Director of the Northwest Education Loan Association, the Student Financial Services Corporation, and many others. She also held the presidencies of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Washington State Financial Aid Association.
“Being a Coug means everything,” says Finch. “It’s helped me live my life in terms of my interests. I’ve also been blessed with the good fortune of knowing all the presidents, football coaches, and most of the basketball coaches, almost all on a first name basis.”