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Never say never: Centenary University financial aid counselor proves that persistence pays off

Phillipsburg resident Jerard Tyler’s can-do attitude propels him to an MBA—and a career guiding current college students through financial challenges.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) — Jerard Tyler knows what it’s like to stress out about college costs. As an undergraduate at Allen University in South Carolina, he often scrambled for scholarships to help him meet tuition. It took initiative and drive, but the Trenton native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a concentration in accounting.

Today, Tyler is leveraging his personal experiences, as well as his accounting background, to guide prospective and current college students as a financial aid counselor at Centenary University. He also earned his Master of Business Administration from Centenary last spring.

When he decided to attend college in South Carolina, Tyler’s parents made one thing clear: As an adult, he was responsible for navigating every aspect of the college experience.

“It was definitely tough love, but it helped me so much,” said Tyler, who now lives in Phillipsburg. As a result, he got to know the financial aid representatives at his school and learned how to seek out and win scholarships to help pay for his education: “There were times when I didn’t know how I’d pay for the next semester. It’s a lot of work, but there are opportunities for scholarships and grants out there to help you pay for school.”

After graduation, in rapid succession, Tyler scored a job with Apple as an area manager, got married, and became a father. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, he took a step back from all of the activity to plan his future. He set his sights on two goals: Earning an MBA and getting a job on a college campus, where he could make a difference to students. Shortly after enrolling in Centenary’s MBA program, he was hired by the University as a student account specialist and is now a financial aid counselor.

As a result of his own undergraduate experiences, Tyler is always available—in person, online, and via telephone—to parents and students who are figuring out how to pay for their college education.

“I can relate to families who don’t know how to navigate the financial aid and scholarship process because I was once in their shoes,” Tyler said.

Tyler credits his family with providing him the support he needed to maintain good grades and gain independence as an undergraduate, as well as to pursue his MBA at Centenary while juggling his job and family responsibilities. Today, he and his wife are expecting another baby.

“I’m lucky to have a big family who supported me from the beginning and one-on-one relationships at financial aid as an undergraduate,” Tyler said. “Now, I provide that same support for Centenary University students. It feels great to know that I’m helping students stay in college and earn their degree.”

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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