Faculty Spotlight: Sandra Tarbox


Sarah Tarbox has helped students with Federal student aid and scholarships

You may not know who she is or what her position is as a member of the Shippensburg University staff, but Sandra Tarbox is a very important and influential person on campus.

If you have ever had to apply for Federal Student Aid or are benefitting from a scholarship, chances are that Tarbox has helped you out.

If she is not at one of her many meetings, Tarbox can usually be found working hard in her office in the Financial Aid Department of Old Main where she tries her best to get students the money they need.

Her desk is covered in papers and every time it seems like it is about to be clean a new stack comes in for her to handle.

While her job may not seem glamorous or easy, Tarbox has always found her job enjoyable.
“The Feds like to change things constantly, which makes this job interesting,” she said.

Nearly every year something changes when it comes to higher education, it comes from a drop in funding like the state schools had to deal with last spring, to smaller policy changes.

While this can make her job frustrating at times, it ultimately makes it more enjoyable for Tarbox, who loves to solve problems.

Tarbox started working at Shippensburg in July of 2011 after moving into the area with her husband.

She was looking for a job in the financial aid field that would allow her to help students, while still being in a smaller town, and SU fit the bill perfectly.

Before she moved into the area to work at SU, Tarbox worked at various other schools including Concordia and Antioch as a financial aid director, as well as The American Hebrew Academy as a college counselor.

Before becoming the financial aid director at SU Tarbox earned several degrees.
She spent nine years working her way through college at Antioch in order to get her bachelor’s degree in economics.

Tarbox was plagued by a problem many students face today: not being able to afford tuition.
After attending two years as a full-time student working toward her degree, she had to take time off to earn money.

She worked in Antioch’s financial aid department, starting her on her path as a financial aid director.

“No one ever goes into financial aid on purpose,” she said with a laugh.
She continued working with the school’s financial aid department as she worked to earn her degree.

After graduating from Antioch Tarbox earned her masters in higher education and management, then she attended the University of Michigan and received her doctorate in higher education policy.
“I always find it exceedingly ironic that the Department of Education, who focuses a lot on four and six-year graduation rates, would classify me as a failure because I didn’t complete my bachelor’s degree in six years” Tarbox said. “I managed to go on and get a Masters and a Ph.D. Sometimes statistics don’t give the complete picture.”

For students struggling to get through school financially, Tarbox wants them to know that she and the rest of the financial aid department are there to help.

One piece of advice she has is for students to consider paying the interest on their unsubsidized loans while they are still in school, as the interest on those loans builds up during their enrollment.
For students struggling to get through school financially, Tarbox wants them to know that she and the rest of the financial aid department are there to help.

Tarbox also encourages students to check out the National Student Loan Data System at NSLDS.gov.

On that site a student can see how much money they have borrowed, how much they will have to repay, and have the option of consolidating their loans.

“We understand that the whole process of applying for aid can be frustrating and sometimes confusing,” she said. “But we are always here to help students through it.”

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