Skip to content

Our Outstanding Committees-Finance and Audit

September 26, 2016

The Finance and Audit Committee is responsible for developing and maintaining proper fiscal controls for the Association. The committee works closely with the leadership and all committees in planning an annual budget, which enables each entity to achieve its goals and objectives. The Finance and Audit Committee continually monitors the Association’s fiscal activities.

Audit and Finance Committee

Jon Dechant
Louis Melucci

The Finance and Audit Committee had a light year in terms of duties.  We were tasked with evaluating the responsibilities of the Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee as well as the committee itself and make recommendations on making better use of RMASFAA resources and maximizing value of the elected positions. We were happy to contribute at the Winter Board meeting and look forward to the business meeting held in October in Rapid City.


Louis Melucci
RMASFAA Finance and Audit Chair

Limelight on Ron Smout Award for Teaching and Mentoring – Sue Weinreis

September 26, 2016

Throughout the series we will be going back to past Ron Smout recipients and finding out their story to becoming a teacher/mentor and their words of wisdom. The sevent Limelight is on Sue Weinreis

Q: It’s been 5 years since you received the award. How has it changed your outlook?

A: I was stunned when I received The Ron Smout Award for Teaching and Mentoring.  I never DREAMED I would qualify for it.  When I think of Ron –  kind, quiet, steady, unassuming, always supportive, always keeping in the background – well, it certainly doesn’t sound like ME – boisterous, crazy, obnoxious, and always just a little “out there.”   Did it change my outlook?  Yes, most certainly it has changed my view of myself.  I find myself assuming more of a “Ron Smout” approach  –  I try to keep in the background a little more, tone it down, guide gently.  Sometimes….I almost have it….

Q: Did you feel more pressure/incentive to do more mentoring after you received the award? 

A: But of course!  Who wouldn’t?  I have to keep up the illusion, right?😉

Q: We all have days when we’d like to just walk away from this profession. If you weren’t in financial aid, what would you be doing?

A: Having a little adventure. Backpacking. Gardening.  Hiking.  Skiing.  Geocaching. Reading. Traveling.  Birding.  Making a cake with my granddaughter.

Q: A piece of advice you’ve consistently given to others? 

A: The advice that was given to me by one of the Super Men – tors, Larry Viterna:  “Dare to step out of your Comfort Zone.”  He said, as he conned asked me to co-chair Summer Institute with him waaay back in 1991.  I wanted to say NO – I felt so inadequate.   But Larry promised to support me in every way.  And that’s the second part of mentoring.  If you encourage people to jump, then you better be waiting at the bottom to catch them, prop them up, dry their tears, whatever it takes.

Q: Best advice you’ve been given?

A: The best advice I’ve been given was from another on the Super Men – tors, Jim Swanson.  I will never forget what he said when he accepted the position of RMASFAA President and gave his inaugural address.  He used the word “lagniappe,” to give that little extra bit – to go above and beyond – the extra muffin in the baker’s dozen.  I always try to do that, for a student, for a colleague, for my family, for myself.

Q: Favorite breakfast cereal?  

A: Steel-cut oats, no sugar, with apples and walnuts.  4x/week – it’ll cure what ails ya.  Promise.

Q: How have you seen the profession change? 

A: Too many ways to count and the best is yet to come.

Q: Who was one of your most memorable mentors and why? 

A: I’ve just named two Super Men – tors out of so many people.  Melina Hawkins, of course, would have to be the most memorable of all.  She took a chance and hired me when I didn’t even know what a student loan was.  She sent me to Summer Institute, MASFAA and RMASFAA meetings, and saw that I had the training I needed.  Then she allowed me to get involved in professional activities, while she kept in the background.  She was quiet and wise and kind and tough.  Kind of like Ron Smout.  She was my boss for 20 years and my friend for 30+ years.  As I look toward retirement, I hope that I can make my “after-financial-aid-life” as fulfilling and successful as she has made hers.

Q: Favorite vacation spot? 

A: Copper Canyon in northern Mexico.  Or South Africa. Or Ireland. Or Nepal. Or Cuba.  Or….someplace I’ve never been before?

Q: When you were very young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: A teacher, just like my mom and grandma.

Q: Anything you’d like to add….

A: So many role models I didn’t mention – I am proud to call Financial Aid my profession, and even prouder to call each one of you “Friend.”  I hope you get a kick out of the picture.  Now you know the “real” me.  Oh, wait…you always did.


Our Outstanding Committees- Leadership Pipeline

September 23, 2016

Your RMASFAA Leadership Pipeline Committee has been hard at work this year!  The committee was charged to be transformational with Leadership Pipeline in a way that would allow a graduating class every year, allow members of the RMASFAA Board to participate and to find a way to make Leadership Pipeline more visible to our members.

The first challenge we encountered was little to no information on the RMASFAA website regarding this premier program.  Leadership Pipeline now has its own webpage and prominent link from the RMASFAA homepage, and you can check it out here!  Along with information regarding the program, you will see information on our graduates, find the application, and we hope to add some pictures in the near future.  I would love to hear any comments or suggestions you might have for the site.  A BIG thank you to Joe Donlay for providing content, Sara Vancil for providing the list of graduates, Ricki Jones for creating the layout, and Russ McBee, EIC Chair, for working with ATAC to make this a reality.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

Our second goal was to solicit applications for the 2016-2017 Leadership Pipeline Program.  Not only are we thrilled with our applicants but are excited to see what the year will bring.  We are pleased to introduce the new 2016-2017 Leadership Pipeline Mentees:

Shelby Garner, Casper College, WY

Brenda Haseman, Northern Wyoming Community College District, WY

Darcy Johnson, Emporia State University, KS

Katie Nelson, Black Hills State University, SD

Dani Reynolds, Newman University, KS

Hayley Shipton, University of Utah, UT

Beth Vollan, South Dakota State, SD

Kelly Whittekiend, Dixie Applied Technology College


The next step was to develop a great program and this Committee has delivered!  The Leadership Pipeline agenda is packed with great speakers, including our NASFAA Chair Lisa Blazer, presentations on leadership skills, advocating for students, and much more.  The program will kick off with a welcome at the RMASFAA Conference 2016 on Sunday and we can hardly wait!

Our last completed step was finding mentors to pair with our mentees.  We have a fantastic group of mentors that are volunteering their time to share their valuable wisdom, expertise, and leadership skills.

Valerie Curtin, Helena College, MT

Pat McTee, American Indian College Fund, CO

Julie Wilson, Laramie County Community College, WY

Susan Stephenson, Eastern Wyoming College, WY

Carolyn Halgerson, South Dakota State University, SD

Peg Mason, Colorado School of Mines, CO

Brenda Hicks, Southwestern College, KS

Joe Donlay, Colorado State University, CO

We cannot thank these folks enough.

Finally, we had a few committee members that changed positions or careers and could no longer participate on our committee.  Luckily, we have great people in our association that were more than happy to help us out.  I am pleased to introduce our current Leadership Pipeline Committee:

Janet Riis, Carroll College, MT – Vice Chair

Myra Pfannenstiel, Newman University, KS

Sally Schuman, Colorado MESA University, CO

Julie Watson, Montana State University, MT

Valerie Curtin, Helena College, MT

If you would like more information regarding Leadership Pipeline, please let me know or stop any of us at the RMASFAA Conference in Rapid City.  We will be identified on our name tags!


Shauna Savage

RMASFAA Leadership Pipeline Chair

RMASFAA Conference 2016 Update

September 23, 2016



Avoid late fees by registering before or on September 30.  Go HERE to register and to view the late registration fee schedule.

The room block will be held until September 30 as well.  After that date any unreserved rooms will be released and made available for general sale.  The hotel information may be found HERE.

NOTE:  Rooms with 2 Queen Beds are sold out.  Other room types are still available.


UPDATE!  The NASFAA credential session (Professional Judgment) is full.  We are maintaining a wait list in the event of late cancellations.  If you would like to add your name to the list, please send an email to Sharon Kienow (

Need a peek at the agenda?  Click HERE to see a PDF version.

Check out the mobile-friendly version of the agenda HERE.

Your SDASFAA colleagues have been working hard to bring you a world-class conference in the beautiful Black Hills.  We look forward to seeing you next month!

Have questions about the conference?  Feel free to contact our Conference Co-Chairs:

Carolyn Halgerson                                                        Laura Schultz
Phone: (605) 688-4695                                               Phone: (402) 315-9312
Email:          Email:

heads 2

Last Call for Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award Nominations!

September 22, 2016

It is time once again to solicit nominations for the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award (formerly Rookie-of-the-Year Award).

This award is to be presented to an individual who is a RMASFAA member who, within the last year, made a significant ‘first contribution’ to the Association.  This award recognition can be for either an important single contribution or significant multiple contributions.  Please send any nominations directly to me at  Please include the nominees name, institution and a brief description of the contribution(s) made.

Nominations will be accepted through September 23rd.  The award will be announced at the RMASFAA Conference in October.

There have been so many amazing contributions from SO many individuals this past year.  Please send your nominations right away!!

Thank you,

Vicki Kucera, President-Elect

V. Kucera_2




Spot Light on New Members!

September 22, 2016

Please welcome Erinn Brauer and Erika Gleason from Mid-Plains Community College in Nebraska. Erinn started in RMASFAA in 2015 with her new position as Area Director of Financial Aid for Mid-Plains at the institution’s McCook campus. Erika started this year in February as a Financial Aid Specialist at the school’s campus in North Platte.


Erinn Brauer, Area Director of Financial Aid for Mid-Plains Community College in McCook, NE.

Q: Erinn, what is your background and how did you get into financial aid?

Erinn:  I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Business and Apparel and Design at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. I then went on to complete my MBA at UNL. At the time I was working in retail, but was looking for a career with a better schedule (not having to work nights, weekend, and holidays!). A co-worker mentioned that the school she was working for was hiring for financial aid specialists. I started in financial aid (in 2011) with that school shortly after.

Q: What brought you to McCook, NE, and Mid-Plains Community College? Tell RMASFAA a bit about what you do there.

Erinn: I’d been working in financial aid for about four years and had been encouraged by family, friends, and co-workers to start looking for director positions. In that search, I found this opportunity with Mid-Plains Community College. My dad had recently moved to McCook so the job posting caught my eye. The rest, as they say, is history! I’m now in my second year as the Area Director of Financial Aid for Mid-Plains Community College. I oversee our financial aid department which is split between McCook and North Platte. I also assist the staff at our extended campuses when their students have questions about financial aid and are not able to go to one of our offices in person.

Q: What is your favorite thing about your work?

Erinn: My favorite thing is the students and the people that I work with. Mid-Plains has an amazing student-focused culture and it’s been a real joy to be here.

Q: You sent a staff member, Erika Gleason, to Summer Institute. What made you decide to send her? Have you noticed a change since her return?

Erinn: One of our financial aid specialists in North Platte, Veronica Wolf, had attended Summer Institute a few years ago. She had a fantastic experience so when Erika started with Mid-Plains, Veronica suggested that Erika attend. I had heard good things about Summer Institute from others at the RMASFAA conference in October and am excited that Erika was able to attend. Erika has learned a LOT since she started in financial aid in February. Summer Institute provided clarity on some issues and she’s been able to come back and help train the team on what she’s learned. She was excited about her new career in financial aid before she attended, but I think she’s even more excited now to continue to learn and grow in the field.


Erika Gleason, Financial Aid Specialist at Mid-Plains Community College’s North Platte Campus.

Q: Erika, you were in the Hi Ho Cherry-O Summer Institute class. How was your SI experience?

Erika: I am very new to financial aid – I started on February 1st.  Summer Institute was an INCREDIBLE experience.  I would highly recommend it to anyone.  I really enjoyed that my class was designed specifically for people that had little to no experience in financial aid.  The instructors did a fantastic job working through the NASFAA U curriculum and pulling out the information that would be most vital to those new to the profession.  The classroom environment was so comfortable.  I truly feel like I made friends in the profession that would be more than willing to help me troubleshoot if I run into any issues.

On another note – Golden, CO was absolutely gorgeous.  I couldn’t think of a better place to spend an intense week of learning.

Angie Zeorlin, one of Erika’s instructors, stated, “Erika was really on top of her game at SI. She was very inquisitive, asked great questions and was always willing to share her knowledge and experiences with everyone in the room. [She] was able to set strong roots at SI that will continue to benefit our profession as her experience grows!”


Erika is shown center back enjoying Bingo Night at Summer Institute.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote?

Erinn: One of my favorites is “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

Erika: I would also say that is one of my favorite quotes.  I think it ties in so well to what we do because as financial aid professionals we help students reach their dreams.

Q: What do you do for fun/hobbies/favorites?

Erinn: My fiancé and I play board games in our free time. Some of our favorites are Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, Mansions of Madness, and Pandemic. I also love to spend time with my nieces.

Erika I really enjoy going to local breweries and wineries.  I am fascinated by the different processes and ingredients that go into each blend.  I also really enjoy country music concerts, preferably at some sort of local fair or festival.

Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Erinn: I remember thinking I’d like to be a teacher. My life took another path and now I’m serving students in a different way.

Erika: When I was little at one point I told my mom I wanted to be either a teacher or a waitress.  She assured me I could do both if I wanted.  I actually did pursue teaching for a while, but I am very happy to be working in financial aid now.

Q: What is your favorite family tradition?

Erinn: My family would go to Yellowstone National Park in the summer when I was growing up, we still try to go back most years to go geyser watching, see wildlife, and enjoy good food and spending time together. A close second would be the food and cookies we make for Christmas each year – yum!

Erika: My favorite tradition doesn’t actually happen anymore, but when I was little my whole family would go camping each year at a lake about two hours from where we lived. It was probably the only time of the year that that side of the family got all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins together. My favorite part of the trip was always sitting around the campfire at night because we would play so many different games and spend the whole time laughing. As we’ve all grown up we’ve tried numerous times to restart this tradition but with so many of us living in different parts of the country the timing never seems to work out.

Please welcome Erinn and Erika at the next RMASFAA event!






Getting Some Relief: Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Verification

September 21, 2016

Feeling a little stressed? That may be an understatement. Today’s financial aid professionals are feeling the effects of staffing constraints and increased regulatory compliance requirements, not to mention the demands of a generation of students who expect modern, streamlined, user-friendly experiences.

You’re not alone — and your stress is also having an impact on the people you serve. A 2016 NASFAA survey spells it out: “Across the board financial aid professionals continue to face heavy workloads and their offices continue to be understaffed, often to the detriment of students.”

A new Inceptia research brief, Financial Aid Management Practices: The Benefits of Outsourcing Verification,” examines the sources of pain in the industry and discusses a plan of action.

This informative brief by Cindy Kohlman, Inceptia Vice President of Financial Aid Operations, looks at how outsourcing can help schools provide more personalized service to students and their families while reducing the need for time-intensive technical support and regulatory compliance updates. It also introduces readers to Verification Gateway, Inceptia’s innovative full-service solution for managing verification.

This brief is a useful resource to assist those evaluating their verification strategy and provide guidance and support for schools considering a third-party servicer.

For more information about Inceptia’s verification solution, contact Nick Martinez,, or visit

Brought to you by:
Nick Martinez
Strategic Business Director