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November 20, 2015


I love fall. There are so many things about this season that makes it the perfect time of year. Yes, I said it. I have dubbed it the perfect time of year. I have a friend and neighbor who will not allow me to use the word ‘perfect’ around him. He’s a handy man who freely tells all of his customers that if they use the word perfect, he’s going to charge them an extra $75. Well send me the bill buddy, cuz fall is perfect!

Why? Because it combines an enormous amount of anticipation into a few short months, and anticipation of good things is what makes our world go around. We see the children pick their Halloween costumes and lick their chops waiting for the big candy haul and sugar highs. Then we start thinking about Thanksgiving and the turkey and the stuffing. And of course by then we are decorating for Christmas and buying/wrapping presents…and eagerly awaiting that coveted Christmas break. Just thinking about it makes me want to break into a Carly Simon song!

How does that relate to financial aid? Well let me illuminate…

  • For most of us this is the first term of a new academic year. It’s like spring for farmers – watching the new crop grow. We helped plant the seed financially so that education could be possible for our students, and then we watch them grow. Sure we get some fallout, but for the most part, we see them take root and flourish.
  • We use the fall “down time” to work on and close out projects – P & P, NASFAA credentialing, Gainful Employment clean up (I had to throw that in). Putting the last signature on a major project is cathartic. Liberating.
  • We are making plans to serve in our state, regional, and perhaps national associations. By now we’ve either volunteered or are thinking about volunteering, and it’s exciting. Or at least it should be. Nothing in our world pushes and pulls us professionally more than involvement in our associations. It’s where we learn, network, teach, build friendships, drink. (I just threw that last one in to see if you were paying attention.)

In short, fall is our period of renewal. We reinvent and reinvigorate. Oh sure, our jobs involve doing that all year around, but never as beautifully as it’s done this time of year.

So enjoy it while it lasts my friends. The winter’s cold and the 16-17 ISIR’s will be coming soon enough. Wishing you all the best fall ever!!

Vicki Kucera

RMASFAA President-Elect

V. Kucera

My Experience at the RMASFAA Conference

November 9, 2015

Lauren Kang, Financial Aid Loan Advisor at Community College of Aurora, was one of two winners of the DMCI (Diversity and Multicultural Initiatives) Scholarship to attend the RMASFAA Conference.  Here are her thoughts on the experience!

Since there are so many great ways to learn new skills and network with peers in our financial aid world, I asked myself “what’s the benefit for me of attending this year’s RMASFAA conference?” I’ve got three top takeaways.

First and foremost, it was remarkable professional development opportunity for me. Financial aid field requires keeping up with constant changes and makes us life-long learners. With great sessions and activities, I could learn new ideas, interpretations, and better ways to serve our students with a variety of points of view.  As a loan advisor at Community College of Aurora, I wanted to gain more knowledge on loan rehabilitation and 150% Subsidized Loan Limitation, so it was great to attend these sessions to update myself on new changes. In addition to that, every session offered very interesting topics that I wanted to learn in depth, so I had pleasant worries to decide which one to attend.

Second, RMASFAA offered a great networking opportunity to meet new people from novice to expert. Although going to a conference and meeting new people force me to break out of my comfort zone, RMASFAA conference, joined with CAFAA this year, was proving a great opportunity to meet new people in all financial aid areas, which became valuable resources for referrals and best-practices.  Moreover, I had many chances to encounter new vendors and servicers that I had so much fun discovering innovative products and services for students and schools.

Last but not least, I had so much fun! Starting from welcome/opening keynote speaker presentation, it was full of energy and joy. Who wouldn’t have enjoyed the RMASFAA and CAFAA wedding ceremony? It was a brilliant idea to join the two conferences and moreover, gathering with like-minded individuals and sharing high-quality thoughts and ideas through rich discussions were not only pleasurable but also it was great way to maximize the investment of time and energy in RMASFAA conference.

I cannot thank RMASFAA Diversity and Multicultural Initiatives Committee (DMCI) enough for this great opportunity to attend this year’s RMASFAA conference as a scholarship recipient. I hope that RMASFAA will continue to represent more diverse individuals with a mixture of funds of knowledge.

Thank you,

Lauren Kang

Lauren Kang

2015 RMASFAA Award Recipients – Revised

November 4, 2015

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 Colorado last month:

Committee of the Year – Electronic Initiatives Committee and Training Committee


Electronic Initiatives Committee

  • Robb Cummings – Sallie Mae (Chair)
  • Russ McBee – Dodge City Community College (Vice-Chair)

Training Committee

  • Susan Stephenson – Eastern Wyoming College (Chair)
  • Katie Nettell – Lake Region State College (Vice-Chair)
  • Kristen Gast – Sheridan College
  • Sheila R Johns – Western Nebraska Community College
  • Mike Mutziger – Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
  • Katie J Nettell – Lake Region State College
  • Leslie D Olsen – Carroll College
  • Jana Parks – Baker University
  • Jill Robinson – Brigham Young University
  • Steve Woodburn – Colorado Christian University

Oscar R “Jack” Hendrix Award – Sara Vancil from University of Kansas & Becky Pribyl from Northern State University

Distinguished Service Award – Jeff Jacobs from North Dakota State University

Ron Smout Award for Teaching and Mentoring – Connie Corcoran from Emporia State University (retired)

RMASFAA Hall of Fame – Carolyn Halgerson from South Dakota State University

President’s Special Award – Deb Tarpley from US Department of Education – Denver

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

A Welcome from the President

November 2, 2015

Our Outstanding Committees – Conference

October 27, 2015

Introducing the Our Outstanding Committees series. Throughout the next 12 weeks you will be introduced to each of RMASFAA’s 12 committees, the committee members and find out all that they accomplished this year. This is week 12 of the series.

RMASFAA, we cannot thank you enough for joining us in Colorado for the 2015 Annual Conference. You showed up with smiling faces and open minds, ready to journey down the aisle with us to see CAFAA and RMASFAA joined in Higher Ed Matrimony. The conference was a great success, bolstered by sunny weather and your sunny disposition – we truly had a wonderful time together. Thanks so much to those who could make it, and to your colleagues for manning the battle stations while you were away learning, networking, and having a little fun too.

As conference chairs, we received so many kind remarks about aspects of the conference, and feel we should devote a few lines to our stellar conference leadership team, whose work made it the success it was.

  • James Broscheit, our Program Chair, worked with his team to put together a diverse and engaging group of interest sessions, so popular we were adding chairs in the back!
  • Tom Biedscheid led the stellar Publicity team, who invented Wedding Wednesdays (brides, yes, you may borrow that!) to make sure our guests knew what fun was in store for them!
  • Karla Nash and her crack-team of Registration Renegades covered all the bases in getting materials assembled, and the “I (heart) RMASFAA” tote bags were a huge hit with attendees.
  • Michael Amaloo stayed in constant contact with our vendor partners, who supported us so generously and kept a close eye on the cut-throat silent auction as well!
  • Rob Drybread kept it fun and interactive, planning our bachelor/bachelorette party, complete with games and awesome prizes and a lot of required silliness on the night before the Big Day.
  • Mike Nguyen kept our entire tech running smoothly, even when the conference center couldn’t keep up with his awesomeness :)
  • And finally, Thomas Hernandez, whose incredible vision and dedication to all things beautiful truly transformed a plain conference venue into the wedding of the season. His work was widely regarded as the highlight of the conference, and his passion for financial aid certainly shined through!

We want to send a special shout-out to all of the CAFAA members that attended the conference and were there to witness Tom Bieschied (CAFAA president) and Joe Donlay (incoming RMASFAA president) get married in a gorgeous ceremony. We hope the lovely couple is having a great time on their honeymoon!

Our wonderful RMASFAA guests were so generous this year and we had an extremely successful silent auction that raised $1,300 for our philanthropy project, the Golden Backpack Program. Thank you all so much for supporting such a magnificent program.

And last but not least, our wedding photos have arrived! We will be getting those up on the RMASFAA website shortly. We know you are excited to see them, so to tide you over for now here are the beautiful state pictures.


2015 Colorado State Picture

2015 Kansas

2015 Kansas State Picture

2015 Utah State Picture

2015 Utah State Picture

2015 Nebraska State Picture

2015 Nebraska State Picture

2015 North Dakota State Picture

2015 North Dakota State Picture

2015 South Dakota State Picture

2015 South Dakota State Picture

2015 Montana State Picture

2015 Montana State Picture

2015 Wyoming State Picture

2015 Wyoming State Picture

We truly enjoyed getting to meet so many amazing RMASFAA members! And don’t forget, the South Dakota conference is just around the corner and they’re going to ROCK you.

A Million Hearts and Hugs,

Natalie Engelbrecht and Erin “Brogs” Brogan
2015 Conference Co-Chairs
Floral Print Extraordinaires


Our Outstanding Committee – Leadership Pipeline

October 16, 2015

Introducing the Our Outstanding Committees series. Throughout the next 12 weeks you will be introduced to each of RMASFAA’s 12 committees, the committee members and find out all that they accomplished this year. This is week 11 of the series.

RMASFAA Leadership Pipeline was created by the RMASFAA Board in 2006 and represents an exceptional professional development opportunity for advancement and leadership training in the financial aid profession. The goals of the program foster the development of leadership skills, support individual growth, and initiate future leaders for the state, regional and national organizations via an integrated curriculum within a structured mentoring program.

This unique program exists due to the hard work of the Leadership Pipeline Committee. Those who volunteer for RMASFAA committees typically serve for one year. The term of service for the LP Committee is two years due to the structure of the program. The following committee members are finishing their second year of service:

Ricki Jones, Chair, UMW
Shauna Savage, Vice Chair, MTECH
Cristi Millard, Past Chair, SLCC
Julie Watson, MSU
Monica Kopcow, CSU
Don Buehrer, Nelnet, SD, (RETIRED)
Connie Corcoran, Emporia, (RETIRED)

Leadership Pipeline

In 2014 this committee began its charge of planning the Leadership Pipeline program for 2015. Two committee members, Julie Watson and Monica Kopcow, were especially valuable for the planning stage as recent LP graduates. The Committee served as a screening board for applicants and suggested potential mentors. They worked hard to help craft a program that would enable participants to achieve the program goals as well as their personal leadership goals.

The 2014 RMASFAA Winter Board Meeting brought new challenges to the Committee. Could we re-imagine LP in a way that would allow a graduating class every year rather than the current structure of a planning/prep year followed by an implementation/participation year? If this were to work there would need to be a curriculum, much like NASFAA’s CORE, that would provide consistency in terms of program goals and outcomes, while being flexible enough that each Chair and committee could put their own stamp on it.  Importance was placed on aligning the work and goals of RMASFAA and other committees such as Association News, DMCI, Training Committee and Electronic Initiatives Committee. The curriculum that was developed pays homage to the vision of the 2006 Board but is nimble and flexible enough to take Leadership Pipeline into the future.

The Leadership Pipeline kick-off took place in Snowbird last October where committee members, participants, mentors, and content area experts successfully worked together to prep the participants for the tasks and opportunities ahead. Since the kick-off event, participants and committee members have engaged in conference calls as a group, working through curriculum to achieve leadership goals. The program has participants working with their mentors weekly on reflective leadership and individual goals. Participants and committee members will gather again at RMASFAA 2015 in Colorado for their capstone experience and graduation. For Leadership Pipeline Committee it has been an amazing year, an amazing journey, and an amazing opportunity to serve.

President’s Report and Farewell

October 8, 2015

Happy October, RMASFAA!

While trying my best to not get overly nostalgic and sentimental, I am pleased to present my final blog post as RMASFAA President. Your 2014-15 Board of Directors and committee members have been sprinting to the finish line as we prepare to hand over the reins to Joe Donlay and company next week. Below are a few highlights from the past two months.

Vice President Tony Lubbers has been hard at work scanning historical RMASFAA documents and updating the ‘Archives’ section of For a fun walk down memory lane, take a few minutes and click through some old newsletters, conference programs, or priceless photos. By the way, does anyone recognize these foxy ladies? I think the one on the left might be Farrah Fawcett, but I can’t be 100% sure.

RMASFAA’s Angels, ca. 1989

RMASFAA’s Angels, ca. 1989

Last month, incoming Treasurer Donna Carter met with David Martin (outgoing Treasurer) for training on RMASFAA’s financial policies and practices in order to make next week’s board transition as smooth as possible. While we appreciate all RMASFAA volunteers, the Treasurer position is particularly critical and also very time consuming. I am personally very grateful to both of these capable and dedicated colleagues! David is completing four years of exceptional service in this taxing role (no pun intended) and Donna is starting her term of two years (at least!). On behalf of all of us who benefit, I thank you most sincerely for keeping the Association balanced, in the black, and out of prison.

As you may already know, RMASFAA hosted our first-ever webinar just yesterday. Jeremy Early and Karen Henriquez (both from the University of Utah) gave a very timely presentation about consumer information requirements and offered many valuable tips to help make your next audit a little smoother. (If you missed it, the recording and handouts should be available soon on!) I want to publicly thank Karen and Jeremy, as well as Susan Stephenson (Training Committee Chair) and Robb Cummings (Electronic Initiatives Chair) for all of their hard work. Their contributions have laid a strong foundation for future virtual training opportunities within RMASFAA and I’m excited to see where it leads us! Thanks also to each of you who participated. We greatly appreciate your attendance and also the excellent feedback and suggestions that you provided through the survey.

Speaking of surveys, and in the spirit of the big event next week, I thought I’d share perhaps the most creative RSVP request I’ve ever seen. Believe me, the Kerrs and Sabinos (whoever they are) have nothing on RMASFAA when it comes to fun, drama, and ridiculous dancing:


Well, I’m off to pack my suitcases for a week filled with board meetings, conference sessions and activities to remember…all with some of my favorite people on the planet! Thanks for a great year, RMASFAA.

–Art Young