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Training Tip of the Month – December

December 18, 2014

Did you Know

Consumer Information disclosures are probably not the favorite part of anyone’s job, but it is a critical responsibility that can impact an institution’s federal aid eligibility. Because of that, financial aid offices often become the organizers of all the information as well as the CI Cops and Deadline Detectives.

How can we stay on task and assure the information we’re providing is accurate and being distributed
or posted to our websites in a timely manner?  It all centers on knowing the requirements. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Paying close attention to deadlines is a key to success!

  • October 1st is a significant deadline for several disclosures
  • Use a spreadsheet to track deadlines and responsible parties; update when task is completed

Set calendar reminders!

  • Allow two months before the required deadlines to coordinate with other departments to
    collect the required documentation

Ensure consumer information links work properly at all times!

  • Links must also point to the exact electronic address where information is posted
  • Do you have a notice that your institution will provide a paper copy of any or all consumer
    information upon request?
  • Schedule a set time each month to review your consumer information web page and check
    all hyperlinks 

Federal Regulations ECFR §668 Subpart D—Institutional and Financial Assistance Information for Students:

FSA Handbook:

DCL GEN 08-12:


FSA Consumer Information at a Glance Template:

National Postsecondary Education Cooperative disclosure suggestions:

USA Funds Consumer Information manual and compliance checklist:

This Tip of the Month was provided by your RMASFAA Training Committee

Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award Spotlight – Roger Matthew

December 15, 2014

Roger Matthew

I came into Financial Aid later in life, accepting a position at Montana State University’s Office of Financial Aid Services in 2008 after spending almost 20 years in credit unions.   The credit union movement offers plenty of opportunities to volunteer, and I had served a variety of roles at the chapter, state and national level.

Casting about for a way to volunteer in my new career, I stumbled on a call to serve on RMASFAA’s Leadership Pipeline Committee.  Now normally a brand new financial aid administrator starts out by being accepted as a mentee in the Leadership Pipeline program, followed perhaps years later by a request to become a mentor or to serve on the committee.    However, long-time Chairman Mary Sommers seemed to have no problem with me leapfrogging straight into the committee role, so with permission from my director, Brandi Payne, I served an exciting year on the Leadership Pipeline Committee learning financial aid from the top down.

This brought me to the attention of Joe Donlay, who recommended me to become RMASFAA’s Electronics Initiatives Chair for 2011-12.  One of the goals for the Electronic Initiatives Committee was to set up a means to accept credit card payments through the RMASFAA website.    This was an easy stretch for me, having helped set up ATM, Debit and Credit card programs in my credit union, and was made easier still by the fact that past E.I. Chair Shawna Savage had already done the legwork to research and recommend a payment system.    I got the ball rolling on electronic payments, turned it over to RMASFAA Treasurer David Martin to finish up, and put my feet back up on the desk.

Imagine my shock later on that year when former RMASFAA President Brenda Hicks called my name as I sat daydreaming at the RMASFAA Annual Conference Awards Banquet.   I had to be nudged to the podium, and didn’t have a word to say as I accepted the 2011 – 2012 Oscar R. “Jack” Hendrix “Rookie of the Year” award.  It was quite an honor, especially considering the luminaries who have won the award in the past.

Volunteerism can actually be a selfish act.  My favorite quote regarding this comes from Tom Parac, former winning Head Football Coach of the MSU Bobcats.  He had taught his players that “You Get Out of It What You Put Into It”.  I heard that same quote in his inaugural speech as President of the Bozeman Rotary Club.  Tom was encouraging his fellow Rotarians to get more involved in Rotary, so they would  get more out of it.  I heard that call and served as Rotary Club Treasurer and later as Rotary District Treasurer, finding along the way I was getting a lot more out of Rotary.

The same holds true with our profession.  If you go beyond doing your day-to-day job to involve yourself in our state associations and in RMASFAA and NASFAA, you gain knowledge and understanding of your profession, and you meet neat people who fill you with their dedication to the good work of Student Financial Aid.  Find a committee or role that interests you, and try volunteering today.  You’ll get out of it more then what you put into it.

Roger Matthew

President’s Update

December 9, 2014

Happy Tuesday, RMASFAA!

I am pleased to provide the first of what will be many updates from me during the coming year. The goal is to keep our valued RMASFAA members updated and aware of board decisions, as well as the work I am doing as I strive to represent our association, institutions, students, and each of you to the best of my ability. Please also consider this an open invitation to reach out to me on any of the below items (or any others you might be concerned about). Your feedback is not only welcomed, it is absolutely critical to the success of RMASFAA.

  • We had a very successful fall conference here in Utah at the Snowbird Resort. Special thanks go out to Camille Johnson and Kim Knapton (conference co-chairs), as well as all committee members, presenters, and attendees. If you were unable to attend (or if you were there but would like to review conference sessions), selected handouts and session recordings are now available on the conference page at Rohit Kulkarni and the Electronic Initiatives Committee worked very hard to make this possible. Thank you very much! And while we’re talking about the annual conference, now is a good time to mark your calendars for next year’s RMASFAA Conference, which will be held October 11-14, 2015 at the Westin Hotel in Westminster, Colorado.
  • On November 17-18, I had the privilege of attending the NASFAA Board Meeting in New Orleans as an observer. What a great learning experience! I was extremely impressed with the quality of leadership and commitment to our profession that is consistently demonstrated by our NASFAA staff and national leadership.
  • On November 20, the Board of Directors approved the 2014-15 budget. I truly appreciate the input and dedication of each board member, as well as our fantastic committee chairs. Each of them was an invaluable part of the budgeting process, and I’m very excited at the plans and goals for the coming year. The detailed budget spreadsheet has been posted on the RMASFAA website (under ‘Board of Directors Minutes/Reports’ on the ‘Leadership & Minutes’ tab). It is in two parts because the file was too large to upload in one document!
  • On November 21, I signed the contract for the 2016 RMASFAA Conference, which will be held October 23-26, 2016 at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City, South Dakota. The contract is posted in the ‘Archives’ section of the RMASFAA website. A big thank-you to Carolyn Halgerson and Laura Schultz, our 2016 conference co-chairs!
  • I am already making my travel plans to visit all eight of our phenomenal RMASFAA states in the spring, and I’m very excited to attend your individual state conferences and events! Thank you to the boards of each state association, as well as to the conference and program committees, for making time for me. As you may have heard, the ‘RMASFAA Update’ will take a little different slant this year. We will be holding active feedback sessions in order to gather member input on different topics that will guide the future direction of RMASFAA (this is very timely as we work toward approving a new set of Strategic Directives at next year’s annual conference). Once again, I invite your participation and best thinking. It’s an exciting time to be part of our profession and association!

Thank you again for your participation in RMASFAA and for all you do to strengthen and support our profession and the students you serve. Please let me know if I can help you or your institutions in any way.

Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season!

Art Young

NASFAA update from RMASFAA Past President

December 4, 2014

Hello RMASFAA members!

There are a couple of responsibilities that go with the past president position that I would like to report on.  I am serving on the NASFAA Regional Federal Issues Committee and a conference call was held recently to review many happenings that are going on at the federal level.  The recent Congressional elections may impact federal student aid programs due to the balance of power going in favor of the Republican Party.  NASFAA staff members who were on the call indicated that the Continuing Resolution to fund federal programs for next year must be completed before December 11th 2014 or we could face another government shutdown.  The most likely scenario moving forward could be an Omnibus Spending Bill that would combine all federal funding levels into one bill.  There has been some Reauthorization bills move forward recently but it appears that a full Reauthorization bill could be another year away.  In essence, stay tuned at the federal level for what surely be a flurry of activity over the next two weeks.

I also recently attended the NASFAA fall Board of Directors meeting in cold, cold, cold New Orleans.  I know that doesn’t sound right but that was exactly how it felt.  I am happy to report that NASFAA keeps on moving in the right direction and is very involved with tasks forces to improve our current programs and processes.  Some of the action items that were voted on included increasing membership dues slightly, approving the 50th anniversary budget, moving funds from operating into board designated reserves and reviewing the board committee charters.

I would like to thank the RMASFAA membership for providing me the opportunity to serve at this capacity and certainly appreciate your support.

Jeff Jacobs

RMASFAA Past President

Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award Spotlight – Sarah Trausch

December 1, 2014

My financial aid path began a little earlier in life than most. My father, Randy Sell, took on the Director of Financial Aid role at the University of Nebraska – Omaha (UNO) when I was just 15 years old. Before Dad was the Director of Financial Aid, he was the Manager of the Business Office/Student Accounts (also at UNO) for about 10 years. I remember fondly the times I would visit Dad in his office or go to work with him on a Saturday so that we could go to the HPER Building after he was done working for a few friendly games of racquetball. Many times I would help him work by alphabetizing or sorting paperwork. I guess you could say that I grew up in a university setting. I saw (from a very young age) the highs and lows of financial aid. In college, I would move home during the summers and work in the Admissions Office at UNO. That’s when I first realized my love for Higher Ed and realized that I, too, wanted to pursue a career in Higher Education (as opposed to secondary education – my college major for three years). Upon graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, I moved through the Admissions setting as a Campus Visit Coordinator (my first business card!) and as an Application Processor – both at UNO.

Sarah caricature

My first job in financial aid was at the EducationQuest Foundation in Omaha where I filed so many FAFSAs for students and their parents that I used to dream about it – I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing a FAFSA form. I started at EducationQuest on a Tuesday and left for Summer Institute the following Saturday. It was a little overwhelming to say the least, but I survived.

3 years later, I started my job at Creighton. I’ve been here a little over 10 years now, and I’m still loving it.

When I first started at Creighton, I became very involved in NeASFAA and then became very involved in RMASFAA a few years later, which is when I won the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award (in 2011), to my great surprise. Although I’m not currently serving on any committees (at least I don’t think I am), I do plan to become involved again in the near future. I miss spending time with my RMASFAA friends and seeing them on a regular basis. I feel like I’ve formed so many close relationships with colleagues from our great region because I got involved. I feel like RMASFAA is more like an extended family than anything else, and I know my dad felt the same way about so many of you. I’m so honored to be part of such a great University as well as both state and regional associations. I’m truly ‘home’ here at Creighton, with NeASFAA, and RMASFAA – and it’s because of all of you. For that, I thank you!

IMG_2226 Sarah

Sarah (Sell) Trausch was honored as the recipient of the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix award in 2011.

Thankful for RMASFAA

November 24, 2014

Is it just me, or is anyone else having a hard time realizing that Thanksgiving is THIS week…?!  Wow!  It seems like just days ago we were all together in Utah for our annual conference and I find myself struggling to believe that 2014 is almost over.    On my campus at Colorado State, a host of new initiatives for my office have made for a busier-than-usual fall semester – and in speaking with several RMASFAA colleagues, I know that it has been an equally crazy autumn for many campuses across our region.  If time truly does “fly when having fun”, we all must be having an absolute blast! :-)

Despite not being able to wrap my head around the fact that this year is rapidly drawing to a close, the holidays are indeed upon us.   In this season of thanksgiving, I can’t help but pause and think of how immeasurably grateful I am for an association like RMASFAA.  For myself, it’s the wonderful colleagues and friends I’ve made through RMASFAA who help sustain me when the day-to-day busyness of our profession seems to border on “too much”.

As I sit here at home Sunday evening typing this blog post – sipping lukewarm coffee, listening to my dog snore in the background, and planning for the short workweek – I’m reminded of just how many ways I am thankful for RMASFAA and its members.

  • I am thankful for the incredible training opportunities RMASFAA provides.  Our region may be small in numbers, but the breadth and scope of expertise in our association is as vast as our geography.   Our conferences offer an exceptional training program with both regional and national best-practices perspectives.  And of course, RMASFAA’s Summer Institute is nationally-known, attracting attendees from across the country each June.
  • I am thankful for the mentoring that happens throughout our association.  Our award-winning Leadership Pipeline program is second-to-none, and speaking as a graduate of Leadership Pipeline, I can personally attest to the immense benefit of careful and considerate mentoring; I am a better aid administrator and a better person because of the outstanding mentors I have been gifted with in RMASFAA.
  • I am thankful for the friends I have made through RMASFAA.  So much more than just colleagues, I’ve been blessed with new friends with whom I can call on for guidance – or to just shoot the breeze – at any time.
  • As I begin my year as President-Elect, I am unbelievably thankful for the volunteers of this association; the number of folks who commit their valuable time and tremendous talent to RMASFAA is amazing.  As we finalize committees for 2015, I am reassured that we’re going to have a phenomenal year of RMASFAA programming.
  • RMASFAA is a LOT of FUN… and for that, I am VERY thankful.  We work hard, but we also play hard – and we laugh even harder.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to You and Yours!

Joe Biz Pic (2)

-Joe Donlay, RMASFAA President-Elect

2014 RMASFAA Award Winners

November 12, 2014


RMASFAA would like to congratulate the following individuals and committee members for their efforts this past year as they were honored at the most recent banquet in Utah last month:

Committee of the Year – Association News


  • Laurie Rodriguez – Carroll College (MT), Chair
  • Sara Vancil – University of Kansas, Vice Chair
  • Shelley Blome – North Dakota State College of Science
  • Ryan Christensen – University of Utah
  • Sara Trausch – Creighton University (NE)
  • Connie Jaime-Lujan – Colorado State University
  • Marlene Seeklander – Lake Area Technical Institute (SD)

Oscar R “Jack” Hendrix Award – Rohit Kulkarni from University of North Dakota

Distinguished Service Award – David Martin from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Ron Smout Award for Teaching and Mentoring – Deb Henriksen from Black Hills State University (SD)

RMASFAA Hall of Fame – Myra Pfannenstiel from Inceptia

President’s Special Award – Deb Byers (posthumously) from Wichita State University (KS)

Thank you so much for your service to RMASFAA and your dedication to the financial aid profession.