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When Director of Student Financial Aid Bill Schilling attended Penn as an undergraduate in the 1960s, he paid little more than $1,500 for annual tuition.

Though the cost of college has skyrocketed since that time, Schilling has spent the past four decades doing his part to ensure that all qualified students have an opportunity to receive a Penn education.

Last week, though, Schilling announced that he will retire from his position at the helm of Student Financial Services — one he has held since 1980 — on June 30.

“My wife and I had been talking about this for some time now,” he said. “We’d like to have more time to spend and travel together, and this seemed like an appropriate time.”

In both his academic and professional career, Schilling has known little outside the Penn bubble. He graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1966 and soon after earned a degree from the School of Law in 1969. Schilling — who received financial aid while he was a student at the University — began working as a student loan officer for SFS in 1970.

“It’s my alma mater, and I have a very strong attachment to Penn,” he said. “Being in higher education around students and playing a part in making it possible to make students able to come here has been very rewarding.”

Student Registration and Financial Services Associate Vice President Michelle Brown-Nevers cited the University’s no-loan financial aid policy and its recent implementation of a net-price financial aid calculator as two of the “highlights” from Schilling’s time at Penn.

“Bill has basically been a landmark at the University,” she said. “We are going to lose a very loyal, a very knowledgeable, dedicated and really compassionate financial aid officer and person.”

Looking back, Schilling said he is most proud of the fact that Penn’s endowment — which used to cover less than 4 percent of undergraduate grants — now covers more than 20 percent of grants.

Additionally, he explained that there was a time in the University’s history when there were “serious discussions” about whether Penn could afford to remain a need-blind institution.

“I’m almost prouder of the time when we didn’t have the resources but were able to stay in the game and remain competitive,” he said.

Penn President Amy Gutmann said that Schilling “has presided over SFS with great dedication and expertise through the most dramatic changes in Penn history. We offer him our deepest thanks and our best wishes for the future.”

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda agreed.

“Bill Schilling will be personally missed,” he wrote in an email. “His wealth of experience and loyalty to Penn will be very difficult to replace.”

Though plans have not yet been finalized, Schilling said he is hoping to remain with SFS in a part-time position after June 30. Regardless of what role he plays with Penn in the future, Schilling hopes the University will continue to put students first in its aid process.

“We need to be aware that the financial aid program doesn’t exist on its own,” Schilling said. “It’s really here to serve the core mission of the University, to serve the students.”

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