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Mission Complete: Judy Lewis Logue Retires after 55 Years of Financial Aid Service

When the topic of college financial aid arises, chances are good that one's mind instantly focuses on the money. Cost, of course, matters and financial aid does provide the means for a student to attend college. But it means more — so much more — to Judith Lewis Logue.

Ask the 30-year director of the University of San Diego’s Office of Financial Aid, a person who has 55 years overall of professional experience in her field, and this is how she sees it: “I feel financial aid is the backbone of democracy. It allows everyone, no matter what kind of income they come from, to become a first-generation student. And, once the first one does it, brothers and sisters do the same thing. The first one does it and teaches the others how to do it.”

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Filling out the FAFSA, seeking scholarships, grants and loans is a ritual for most college-bound and current students. And, because it is a requirement, those who’ve attended USD since 1989 and have asked questions and needed answers about financial aid, have truly been blessed.

Thousands of Toreros, past and present, have been in contact with, been helped by and have Lewis Logue to thank for their ability to attend USD. Toreros from California and all over the world have shared their personal story or hardship with this financial aid dynamo. She’s sharp as a tack, an avid listener, empathetic, compassionate, passionate and a determined problem solver.

Unfortunately now, for all Toreros, change is here. Lewis Logue’s last official day of work at the university is today, Jan. 31, 2019. Last summer, she announced her intent to retire. A campus-wide retirement party in September was attended by many friends, colleagues, students and alumni, all of whom came to wish her well. Her husband, Larry, and a large gathering of family — including a few USD alumni and family members visiting from Japan — attended, too.

“Thank you immensely for this very wonderful gathering of family, friends and colleagues,” Lewis Logue said. “The University of San Diego is a very special place and I’ve been honored to serve our students for 30 years.”

Making an Impact Her Way

Earlier this month, Kellie Nehring was named to be Lewis Logue’s successor. Nehring has 10 years of college financial aid work experience, including the last six at USD. Lewis Logue’s retirement will also close out another one of her very committed roles — as USD’s Mortar Board chapter advisor, which she founded under then-USD President Alice B. Hayes. Mathematics Professor Perla Myers is the new USD Mortar Board advisor.

Replacing Lewis Logue, though, isn’t as easy as putting new people in place. It’s the institutional knowledge and the seemingly endless energy she brought to her roles that will go with her.

She’s helped thousands of students navigate how to afford a college education. She’s been a go-to person to explain what a new bill or ruling from the state and/or federal government means to our students. She has federal and state financial aid information in the trunk of her car, just in case the young man or woman assisting with her grocery bags is a prospective or current student so she can give them free, sound advice. She’s been a longtime champion of students needing to seek outside scholarships, a figure that in 1989, was just over $200,000. Today, it is $5.9 million.

“You need to be applying for outside scholarships,” she says emphatically. “A lot of people, when I first got here, weren’t applying for them. Some thought, ‘Oh, they only give those to minorities.’ I got rid of that myth right away.”

At a university in which 75 percent of all undergraduate students receive some type of financial aid, Lewis Logue has been a proponent of telling students about the complexities of taking on loans.

“I feel terrible that loans have become such a large component of the financial aid world. It’s a big issue, especially the last 10 years. Everyone’s concerned about loans and they have to learn about money management just to understand what they need to do,” she says. “I read of one student who graduated from Kent State. He was an Ohio resident and graduated from the public school with $100,000 in debt. He must have borrowed every loan that came at him, but he didn’t need $100,000 to go to Kent State. While I’ve always made sure to tell people they can turn down loans, those who don’t can still take just part of the loan and not accept the whole loan, keeping it to a minimum amount and tracking what the average is every two years. [At USD] it’s $30,856 for undergraduates who have borrowed over their four years, which is very respectable given the cost of attending USD.

“I think financial aid offices and colleges, in general, have not been aware of the fact that they should be warning students to not take any more loans than absolutely necessary,” she continued. “They process the loans, put it in an award and the student goes, ‘OK, I’ll accept it,’ but they don’t realize they could cut it in half and, if they run out of money, they can come back and borrow a little more instead of the whole thing. We’ve been preaching this since 1995. Students need to be very careful.”

Going to College and Russia’s Sputnik

Lewis Logue’s sound advice comes from her years of service, but frankly, one of the reasons for the career path she wound up in can be at least partially linked to the successful launch of the Russian satellite, Sputnik I, in October 1957.

Lewis Logue grew up on a farm in the Imperial Valley and bussed to Westmorland Elementary School and Brawley High School. “My father had an eighth-grade education and my mom had a high school diploma. They were both very smart and did well in farming,” she says, but a college education was not one of their goals for Judy. She helped on the farm with her parents and sister.

But when Russia’s success with Sputnik shocked Americans, even then President Dwight Eisenhower was concerned. “President Eisenhower immediately directed American high school teachers to turn all students into ‘college material’ to help save America from the Russians,” she recalls. “I was a high school sophomore and my family didn’t know what college was.”

“Fortunately,” she explains, “Gordon Johnson, who drove my school bus for extra money and taught physics, trigonometry and other science/math courses at the high school, had served in the Korean War and had earned a master’s degree at San Diego State. He seemed to know everything. I always sat behind him on the bus so I could ask him questions. One day, I confided to him I didn’t think my father would allow me to go to San Diego State by myself at age 17.”

One day, after she was dropped off, Lewis Logue’s father and Mr. Johnson engaged in a lengthy conversation. When they finished talking, her father said, “Mr. Johnson says you need to go to college to help save America from the Russians. I’ll loan you a car and you’ll have to go to San Diego by yourself and figure out what college is and do the best you can to help save America from the Russians.”

She arrived at San Diego State in 1960 with a $200 scholarship from the Brawley Rotary Club — it covered her $49 fees each semester and books — and she majored in English and was a journalism minor.

On to Wisconsin and a Career is Born

After graduation, Lewis Logue was hired by mail to work for Memorial Union at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “I had no idea what I’d be doing, but I knew I’d be helping students.”

To her surprise, though, when she arrived in August 1964, the person who hired her, Wallace Douma, had taken a new job at the university. He had been hired to become Wisconsin’s first financial aid director. She learned about the impact that a personal experience for U.S. President Lyndon Johnson had on the financial aid industry.

“He’d grown up poor and could barely afford to attend a small teachers’ college in Texas,” she said. “He received a small scholarship and a part-time job on campus. It was the job that inspired him to create the College Work-Study Program and the Educational Opportunity Grant Program as president. He knew he couldn’t afford college without the job and the scholarship. He knew how many others could benefit so he created a system that for more than 50 years has allowed people who couldn’t afford to go to college to get the help they need.”

Lewis Logue remembers the early days of the new financial aid office on a campus of more than 40,000 students: “When it opened, we met with students and they were intense because they really needed financial help. They were very emotional. I bought a box of tissues for my office and enrolled in a master’s program in counseling. That degree has served me very well over the years.”

She was assistant director for six years at Wisconsin-Madison and a consultant for the Financial Aid Office at Wisconsin-Green Bay for four years before moving back San Diego to be close to family. She was the financial aid director at United States International University for 15 years before applying for the director position at USD. 

A Labor of Love at USD

Being at USD has been a labor of love. She’s been the financial aid director for all four USD presidents. Combining her financial aid prowess with an equal amount of dedication to USD’s Mortar Board chapter of a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for their achievements in scholarship, leadership and service has been a complete joy. Asked what’s the most satisfying aspect of her job and she says it is the ability to help students.

“It’s the look on a student’s face when they’re really scared they’re not going to be able to stay at USD. They’re told to make an appointment to see me and I get to say to them, ‘Look, we’ll find a way to deal with it.’”

Lewis Logue credits administrators for their understanding and allow her to find a workable solution for a student in need. “I told Sister Sally Furay when I came here that if a student isn’t receiving a lot in scholarships and is borrowing more money than is good for them, I need to be able to propose a Plan B. A lot of colleges wouldn’t allow it, but I have to be able to discuss a Plan B with the student and not just say no.”

The possibility of a Plan B has happened, but Lewis Logue said USD, in recent years, has decreased its Plan B need. “Under Barrack Obama’s presidency, the Department of Education began requiring colleges to report their retention rates so parents and students could see that before selecting a college,” she said. “USD made it a priority and its retention rate is 90 percent, so the new federal requirement worked and I see fewer students who need a Plan B.”

Fifty-five years of financial aid experience has taught Lewis Logue plenty. She’s seen a lot and done a lot. She's been honored multiple times, both nationally by Mortar Board and in 2017 when the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) gave her its Meritorious Achievement Award. She could easily write a book, but jokes that her husband probably could, too.

“Larry knows more about financial aid and Mortar Board than any other retired corporate attorney,” she quipped. “He’s been a very good sport about the length of my career.”

She does have a list of what she’s learned during her financial aid career. Many are basic fundamental thoughts, but a few really hit home: “All students have hopes and dreams and many need financial help to achieve them; Financial aid is an excellent investment in America’s human resources; Financial aid administrators and counselors need to be gate openers, not gatekeepers. We need to smile, be respectful and show compassion and understanding for students and their aspirations.”

These observations are tried, true and tested for a person who has led a commendable life of service. And, in response to Sputnik, Lewis Logue believes her mission is complete.

“I’ve been saving America one student at a time for 55 years,” she said.

— Ryan T. Blystone

Contact:

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news@sandiego.edu
(619) 260-4681