David Woods, Director of Financial Aid, CUNY Bronx Community College

Starting in 2010, David joined Mercy College as a student services counselor. Over the next 3 years, he gained experience understanding how financial aid works and helping students achieve their individual goals while learning to address a myriad of student issues. He then went to Columbia University as the Assistant Director of Student Financial Advising, providing financial advice and leadership to the undergraduate student groups in the school of engineering and Columbia College. After this, he returned to Financial Aid as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid & Bronx Campus for Metropolitan College of New York. He was then promoted to the Associate Director of Financial Aid & Bronx Campus and even served as Interim Director of the Bronx Campus. In 2019, he was made the Director of Financial Aid and New York Law School and guided that institution’s FA team through the COVID-19 pandemic via remote work. In 2022, he joined the CUNY system and joined Bronx Community College as their Director of Financial Aid.


Your job as Director of Financial Aid requires a significant amount of documentation. How do you feel about administrative responsibilities compared to working with students one-on-one?

The administrative responsibilities the Director of FA has to complete can be tedious and difficult. But with a well-trained staff, it can make the responsibility for the financial well-being of the student body easier. Working one on one with students allows you to have an immediate impact but as Director, I help to ensure a lasting impact on all students in the college.

Can you tell us about yourself and your journey to where you are right now?

My journey started in Nov. 2010 as I began as a counselor at Mercy College. Over the years, I learned from great mentors and FA leaders as I moved up in knowledge and experience. I first became a FA Director in 2019 when I joined New York Law School. This was a great experience and it prepared me for the challenge of working at Bronx Community College as their Director of FA.

How would you define the difference between coaching, counseling, and advising?

Working with students, the main difference to me is coaching is helping someone to develop the skills needed to achieve their goals. Counseling is helping someone navigate any issues they may encounter while reaching for their goals. And advising is helping someone to discover what their life goal may be.

According to you what factors are most important for an international student to be successful?

International Students need to be cognizant that they do not have the same luxuries as our traditional students. While they should enjoy their time as a student, they must have a clearer goal of what they want to achieve during their time enrolled. They must be more strategic when using their limited funds to ensure they are able to complete their degree and network to make connections that will benefit their future endeavors.

What options are available for international students to finance their education?

International students should always see If they are eligible for funding from the government of their home country. This could be in the form of grants and/or loans (i.e. Canada). They can always apply for loans as well (such as M-Power Financing).

Does applying for financial aid affect admission for international students? Does financial aid lower the chances for international students?

Currently, the only aid available in our college for international students is private scholarships as they are not citizens or eligible non-citizens.

And no, as long as the student has fulfilled the requirements needed for admission, B.C.C. will admit the student. Students however will have to make sure they have a method in place to cover the cost of tuition. We do recommend students have these discussions with partners or family before being admitted to the institution.

What are the academic requirements or other conditions for the renewal of financial aid, including scholarships?

For federal and state aid, students must maintain satisfactory academic progress toward their degree of choice by having a GPA above 2.0 and completing a majority of their attempted courses. For private scholarships, the requirement may vary and could be higher.

Would you help us understand how you and your college support international students?

At B.C.C., since we are a public institution, we have limited options to assist students regarding financial aid, however, on our campus, we do have international student services that will help students maximize their experience at our institution.

What are the most important skill sets needed to be a successful Financial Aid Counselor?

A hunger to learn and understand federal regulations, a professional & patient demeanor, and a willingness to put in the extra effort with students.

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