Booth’s Unsung Heroes - Brandon McAnuff, Associate Director in Financial Aid

By Kristin Cho ‘15

GMAT, check. Admissions essays, check. Interview, nailed it. Happy call, yes! But you are not quite done yet, you need to pay the toll to get on the highway. Cue:  financial aid. If you’ve ever had to go to the Booth financial aid office for questions on federal vs private loans or request for additional loans, then you’ve had the privilege of meeting Brandon. Many of us could not possibly be here without the little hand holding, and Brandon McAnuff, associate director at Booth financial aid made it all happen for us.

Chicago Business [CB]: How did you end up here at Booth?

Brandon McAnuff [BA]: I started my career in financial aid at DeVry. A few years later, my wife got into Stanford GSB so we moved to San Francisco and upon her graduation, we moved back to Chicago, and I started my position here at Booth about 5 years ago.

[CB]: When is the busiest time of the year, and what has been the most challenging experience working here?

[BA]: In general, the late spring when I have to prepare all the documents ready for graduating class and during summer when all new students come in with new loans. But there is always people taking out additional loans and coming in with ad-hoc requests and questions so I am busy all year round!

The challenging side of this job is the fact that every student has unique situation, and every situation is very personal. So it is important for me to find a good balance between my personal sympathy for the situation and professional guidelines when advising students.

[CB]: You must be getting all sorts of questions. Any interesting question you would like to share?

[BA]: One student came into my office and asked if the cost of attendance could be raised so he could take out additional loans and go on dates. At first, I thought it was a joke but it wasn’t. I wasn’t sure how to answer but just explained the school policy on the cost of attendance.

[CB]: One of the biggest gripes with b-school is cost. What do you think about this hurdle to entering b-school?

[BA]: I actually talk about this a lot with my wife, who is also an MBA graduate.  In addition, many of prospective students reach out to me and ask questions on financial aid through which I often sense their concern on financial burden. It definitely is a lot of money but if you have a clear vision for your future and work very hard to make it come true, I think it is worth the investment. And students here at Booth are living examples.

[CB]: Any word of wisdom on financial aid?

[BA]: Borrow as little as possible! It is easy to think that there is not much of difference in borrowing $150,000 or $200,000. But imagine you taking out $50,000 from your bank account today. It suddenly becomes a big number. Also, the interest on $50,000 at 6% over 20 year repayment period is about $3,000/month or $60,000 total. So be wise when you take out loans!