Meet Janelle Kilgore

Financial aid director adds to her busy portfolio, taking on admissions responsibilities on an interim basis

Janelle Kilgore

Janelle Kilgore, director of financial aid, has been named interim executive director of financial aid and admissions. She assumed the duties of Sol Jensen, former assistant vice president for enrollment services, who left UND recently for a position at Northern Illinois University. In her new role, Kilgore will oversee financial aid and admissions. Photo by Jackie Lorentz.

Janelle Kilgore is pretty competitive. And she likes challenges.

So when the director of student financial aid was asked to oversee the admissions office for six months, she said yes.

Kilgore has been named interim executive director of financial aid and admissions, and assumed the duties after Sol Jensen, assistant vice president for enrollment services, left UND for Northern Illinois University. No date has been set for a search to seek Jensen’s replacement.

Kilgore now oversees financial aid and admissions.

She views the addition of admissions to her portfolio as part of a mission to help students succeed.

“Admissions is the front door of our campus. Then students and families will need to formulate their plan on how to pay for their education. This close collaboration will allow us to enhance our service which will in turn reduce their financial stress to allow them to focus their academics and getting involved with student activities,” Kilgore said.

It’s an exciting time for this transition. “UND is currently supporting Student Financial Aid, Student Account Services and One Stop Student Services to reimagine how to assist students and families with their educational finances. This process has allowed us to remove the silos that we have previously worked in,” said Kilgore.

Kilgore said her goal is to review admissions processes and organizational structure to align the office with the goals in the strategic plan. She has completed one-on-one interviews with every staff member in admissions. “I want to be able to understand current process and structure. The engagement of the staff will be critical when looking as enhanced services,” she said.

Path to higher ed

Kilgore’s path in higher education began as a student employee at the University of Minnesota Crookston where she worked as a tour guide and helped process admission applications when their staff member became ill.

After graduating from UMC, Kilgore worked as the communications director for what was then the Girls Scouts Pine to Prairie Council. She wanted to return to higher education, and in 2004 joined UND as a temporary staff member during the PeopleSoft implementation. She became a full-time staff member in financial aid, then spent six years at UND Aerospace in their financial aid office. She earned her master’s degree in higher education from UND and was named business manager at the Memorial Union in 2010. In March 2012 she was named interim director of financial aid; she accepted the position of director later that year.

Helping students

“Financial aid is at times an overwhelming process for students and families. There are many federal regulations that students may need to navigate through,” Kilgore said. “There are many different ways a student could pay for school. That’s the fun part of my world – seeing different student situations and finding ways to help those students. I like the challenge of helping them.”

That’s where Kilgore’s competitive side emerges.

“The staff work very hard within our limitations of the system to make sure students are serviced appropriately. We may not receive thank you letters like other areas but we know our efforts are appreciated,” she said.

The office is working to reduce student loan debt. “We counsel students and help them realize what they need to pay for college,” she said, noting that they’ve seen a small decrease in debt from graduating students.

Her work style is to invest in staff and their development. “I want them to succeed,” she said. She believes that technology and finding ways to make things easier gives students a better experience.

“I love higher education,” Kilgore said. “Financial aid is where much of the work is done behind the scenes to help students succeed and graduate.”