Member Spotlight: Mary Howard is the Financial Literacy Program Manager for Student Assistance Foundation (SAF) in Helena, Montana. She has held the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®) designation since 2013 and has been an engaged member of AFCPE® since 2010.

You are both a member of AFCPE, as well as an AFC certificant. Why did you chose to pursue your AFC and what does the designation mean to you? 
The AFC designation means that I am not only very willing to help students with their financial situation, but that I am qualified to do so as well. It provides the students I serve a measure of trust and confidence in me. My employer, Student Assistance Foundation (SAF) generously invested their resources to allow me to obtain my AFC Certification. SAF recognizes the value of having a professional credential from a national organization backing me when I work with students and their finances. It is an honor to be a part of AFCPE.

What led you to your current role as the Financial Literacy Program Manager at the Student Assistance Foundation of Montana? 
I started my career over twenty-five years ago working in a financial aid office at a small, rural community college in Montana. I have since worked at a variety of colleges and universities helping students prepare for college through awarding of financial aid. I began working for Student Assistance Foundation in 2003; my background in student financial aid provided valuable experience which I brought to my current roles as Financial Literacy Program Manager, Outreach Supervisor and Outreach Manager.

What is most rewarding about the work that you do? 
I feel a true sense of accomplishment when students listen to and understand the information I provide on financial aid and student loan borrowing, and then make a decision not to borrow student loans or even to reduce their borrowing to the bare minimum. I also love working with our Matched Education Savings Programs (MESAs) which help low-income students establish savings habits for college.  In communities where many families are unbanked and do not have an established savings plan, it is particularly rewarding to help students take an active part in funding their college education. To see students actually get excited about financial literacy and saving money for college is very rewarding.

If you would like to network with Mary on topics regarding student financial literacy or student financial assistance, or are interested in learning more about the programs at the Student Assistance Foundation of Montana, please contact Mary at or visit their website at

July 18, 2014

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