Q-and-A with Dr. David Pearlman
David Pearlman is director of student aid at Penn State Altoona. He has worked in financial aid for over twenty-five years, including the last sixteen years at Penn State Altoona. Pearlman serves as chair of the Financial Aid Awareness Committee for the Pennsylvania Association of Financial Aid Administrators and director of the scholarship program for the Pittsburgh Regional Science and Engineering Fair. In his local community, Pearlman holds leadership positions with the Chief Logan District of the Boy Scouts of America and Logan Lodge #490 of the Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania. In addition, he is an adult member of Boy Scout Troop 103 in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Pearlman earned his doctorate in Adult Education from Penn State. For his dissertation, Pearlman conducted a phenomenological study entitled Learning and Constructing Meaning: Adults Volunteering in the Boy Scouts. He is married and has three children.
Q: What is the most gratifying aspect of your position as director of student aid?
A: Meeting with prospective students as they are applying for admission to Penn State. It is such an exciting time in their life as they ponder all of the opportunity that lies before them.
Q: To what extent does private support in the form of scholarships benefit Penn State Altoona students?
A: Private scholarship support has meant obtaining a college degree and fulfilling dreams for so many of our students. This fact becomes very real for me when I attend a Penn State Altoona graduation ceremony. Seeing students being handed their diploma and knowing that this day would not have been a reality for them had it not been for the gift of a generous benefactor is very moving.
Q: In recent years, what are one or two significant factors that have impacted how aid is awarded to students, such as new government rules or procedures?
A: Rules limiting the overall financial aid a student can receive have caused students to carefully consider the academic path toward graduation that they choose. From my vantage point, the positive that has come out of this is that students are actively reviewing degree plans and working with faculty and academic advisers to reach their goals.
Q: Based on your experiences, how is the typical student paying for his or her college education today, and is this a departure from past years?
A: As grant-type aid has been affected by the economics of today, more students are turning to educational loans. Students realize that these loans need to be paid back, so many are wisely budgeting their expenses.
Q: Penn State Altoona scholarship recipients express their gratitude through correspondence with the donors who created the scholarships. In general, how is this practice viewed by the students and the benefactors?
A: It’s wonderful. The Student Aid Office receives the letters and forwards them to our benefactors. Most students bring their letter to the office. Our scholarship recipients literally burst in the office and announce that they have a letter for their benefactor. They are so grateful and appreciative. We are fortunate to have so many individuals, families, and corporations that have provided opportunities for students. Benefactors have written and phoned me and advised how meaningful it was for them to receive correspondence from their scholarship recipients. I would like to add how humbled I am to be a part of the scholarship process at Penn State Altoona. Connecting hard-working, deserving students with individuals who have provided the opportunities for scholarships is, as I noted earlier, wonderful!
Q: What do you enjoy most about working at Penn State Altoona?
A: The campus is and has a strong sense of community. Being a part of this active, vibrant, diverse, academic community, and the opportunity to serve, makes being a part of the Penn State Altoona community very meaningful and rewarding.
Q: What is your favorite pastime?
A: Being with my family, camping with the Boy Scouts, and attending Altoona Curve baseball games.