College of DuPage names new senior director of student financial assistance, veteran services and scholarships

Nicole LaCognata brings a wealth of experience and a passion for student success to her role as the new senior director of student financial assistance, veteran services and scholarships at the College of DuPage.

With an extensive background spanning more than 10 years in the community college sector, LaCognata has played pivotal roles in various financial capacities, focusing on enhancing student success.

LaCognata’s career trajectory is a testament to her dedication and commitment to serving students. During her tenure at Triton College, where she started as a cashier and worked her way up to the role of assistant director of financial aid, she found a supportive community that felt like family.

“It’s this sense of belonging that fuels my dedication to serving students,” she said. “I’m honored to continue this journey at COD.”

LaCognata’s empathy for students stems from her own experiences navigating the challenges of college affordability. Despite initial disappointment that her family couldn’t afford to send her to a four-year university, her time as a student at Triton opened up her eyes to the transformative potential of community colleges. Now, she is driven by the opportunity to empower students and demonstrate that college can be both affordable and a pathway to success.

“Cultivating a supportive environment where students thrive isn’t just a job for me — it’s my passion,” she said. “I’ve walked in their shoes, felt the challenges of college affordability and found my calling in financial aid. Now, I’m dedicated to helping every student navigate those challenges and discover their own path to success.”

With the federal student aid application (FAFSA) recently undergoing a major transformation, LaCognata is focusing her efforts on helping students navigate the changes.

“I want to make the financial aid process as stress-free as possible for COD students,” she said. “Filling out financial aid paperwork can be intimidating and confusing for students. I want every student to feel supported.”

Diana Del Rosario, assistant provost for student affairs, said LaCognata brings the necessary tenacity, as well as unique skillsets to her new leadership role.

“Nicole’s extensive experience in community colleges and her proven leadership in financial management make her an invaluable asset to COD,” she said.

LaCognata earned her master’s in business administration and management at Concordia University Chicago and her doctorate in higher education administration from Northern Illinois University.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.