NeASFAA hosted its Spring 2016 Conference March 23rd and 24th in Lincoln. We had a basketball theme correlating to the Madness felt in financial aid offices in March as well as on the basketball courts. There was a fun tournament on Wednesday night with mini hoops and brackets hosted by our conference sponsors.
The conference fun started with a session on the future of federal aid from Washington insider, Brett Lief.
We were also fortunate to have a federal trainer, David Bartlett for sessions on Student Eligibility, Modules & Title IV Aid, NSLDS Reporting, and Verification. Other break-out sessions offered were on PPY, Financial Literacy, EducationQuest Tools, the RMASFAA Training topic, Federal Methodology, Gainful Employment, and Loan Repayment Options.
NeASFAA spring conference has also had great feedback on our birds of a feather sessions where we can get answers to questions from our colleagues and also do some valuable networking. We have sessions with aid directors, financial aid counselors, by software systems, and our sector meetings offered throughout the two days.
NeASFAA was proud to honor and recognize the following award recipients. Congratulations to each honoree.
Thursday morning, attendees had the rare opportunity to hear from and meet a US Olympian and gold and bronze medals winner. Curtis Tomascievz was a guest speaker and took time to talk and take pictures with people after his speech. He was on the 2006, 2010 (gold), and 2014 (bronze) US Olympic bobsled teams and is from Shelby, Nebraska. It was a great speech and fun for everyone to see him and his two medals.
Our conference wrapped up with an informative and interesting Federal Update from Craig Munier. It is always great to have Mr. Munier back in Nebraska and to hear his information on what is happening in Washington.
Looking ahead, NeASFAA has great training planned throughout 2016-2017. We will be hosting six different opportunities to earn NASFAA Credentials. We will host the training sessions and then individuals will be able to take the test to earn the credential for the training they attended. This is a great opportunity for aid administrators in Nebraska. Additionally, 2017 will be NeASFAA’s 50th anniversary conference. To be held March 30th and 31st in Lincoln, it will be a fantastic celebration and opportunity for training.
Brought to you by:
College of Saint Mary
Please welcome Scott McFarland, Financial Aid Director at Central Wyoming College in Riverton, WY, as a new director and new member to RMASFAA! We also welcome Central Wyoming College back to RMASFAA; they have not been members for at least a decade.
Q: Tell RMASFAA a bit about your background and how you ended up as Director at CWC.
A: I wound up in Financial Aid at CWC in a rather haphazard way. I received my BA in Business Management in Seattle, WA, and worked at the Allstate Regional Claim office there for seven years. My parents gave us a 90-year old farm schoolhouse in my hometown of Riverton, WY, so I moved back and took a year off work to remodel it into our home. When the remodel was complete, I began looking for work, specifically at CWC based on their reputation in the community as an exceptional place of employment. The only position open at the time was a Financial Aid Technician. I applied and was accepted, however, four months later I took the Resident Life Manager position that had opened up. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Financial Aid, but the Resident Life position allowed me to better provide for my family. Less than two years later, the Director of Financial Aid position opened and it was the right opportunity to get back into the Fin Aid world.
Q: What are the main differences you see between directing housing and financial aid?
A: One big difference would be the work schedule. In housing I was often on campus late evenings and weekends and was on-call 24/7. So, the schedule is much better now. However, another difference is the level of interaction with the students, which I miss. I am trying to find different ways to incorporate my new position into the paths of students.
Q: What was the worst job you ever had?
A: I honestly haven’t had a job I didn’t enjoy, but the most exhausting job I’ve had would be unloading UPS trucks overnight while in college.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your current work?
A: Easily the people I work with (both colleagues and students).
Q: What do you do for fun/hobbies/favorites?
A: Anything with my children (three boys and expecting another! Gender not yet known…); Playing music; anything outside (sports, boating, hiking, yardwork, etc.); and building/construction.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: In high school, I made nationals in a guitar competition, which included an all-expense paid trip to Orlando, FL. I placed in the top five at nationals, winning an $8000 scholarship.
Q: What would you sing at Karaoke night?
A: Hakuna Matata!
Q: If money was no object, what would you do all day?
A: I’d spend half the day with my family, half the day mentoring students.
Scott will be attending RMASFAA’s Summer Institute in Golden, CO June 12-17, so be sure to say hello if you see him there. See if he’ll sing you a few bars of Hakuna Matata!
In this series you get the chance to follow a first time Summer Institute (SI) Instructor month by month, from deciding to teach all the way through SI. Check back each month for a Dear Diary update.
One month to go until Summer Institute. RED ALERT!!!!
I have all the materials and am busy making notes. I have no idea how we’re going to cover that much material in one week without someone’s brain exploding. Including mine. OMG. It’ll look just like a jet.com commercial! Of course the important thing is not to know all the answers, but know where to find them.
But I am so anxious to find out who my “students” are. My group will have about a year’s experience in financial aid. Just enough time to realize how complex it is. We should be getting their information soon and I can email them. I hope they’re prepared to spend as much time having fun as they are learning.
Ok, Diary, gotta run.
Quiz #1. This cat…
- Has no idea what’s going on
- Has had too much nip
Can’t wait for Summer Institute to start
Throughout this series we will be going back to past Ron Smout recipients and finding out about their story to becoming a teacher/mentor and their words of wisdom. The second Limelight is from Sally Schuman.
I chose to spotlight Sally Schuman, the 2008 recipient of the Ron Smout Award. Sally is currently the Associate Director of Financial Aid at Colorado Mesa University. I had the privilege of being in Sally’s inter-advanced class at Summer Institute last year. She exemplified everything that is great about the teachers at Summer Institute and our colleagues in RMASFAA. I asked Sally a few questions about her road to becoming a teacher/mentor.
How did you start out in the financial aid profession?
I started by doing accounting work for the Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program, and worked my way “up the ladder” from there. Once it was in my blood I couldn’t leave!
Was there anyone who guided or mentored you as you were starting out?
My primary mentor in the beginning years was Mick Hansen from the University of Montana. Mick was a mentor for so many of us over the years, and he always drove us to be the best we can be for our students.
How did you decide to reach out and become a teacher/mentor?
The only way we learn our profession is from each other. I learned from my mentors, RMASFAA Summer Institute instructors, conference sessions, and my colleagues. We have a responsibility to our industry to continue that flow of knowledge, and as I grew, I knew it was time to give back. I sought out any opportunity I could find to make that happen. The more I mentored and taught, the more I learned and grew as an aid administrator.
What did receiving the Ron Smout Award mean to you?
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am at my professional best when I am with my RMASFAA colleagues. Receiving this acknowledgement from them meant more to me than anything in my career to that date. I also remember Ron Smout, and the exceptional style of leadership he provided, which made the award even more meaningful to me. I actually slept with my plaque the night I received it!!
Any words of wisdom for future RMASFAA teachers/mentors?
The connections we make with our colleagues through mentoring/teaching relationships are valuable beyond words. Not only are these networks critical to our professional success, but lifetime friendships are created as well.
Brought to you by Eleanor Roberts, Vice-Chair of Association News Committee
I’m pleased to bring you an update from your neighbors to the north and your friends at NDASFAA!
First off, we’re pleased to have just wrapped up our annual spring NDASFAA conference at the beautiful campus of University of Jamestown where the theme was “Life in the Fast Lane”. The theme is certainly very fitting for all of us professionals in financial aid since we always have to be quick to keep pace with changes in our industry.
Our conference committee did a wonderful job of keeping everyone ‘up to speed’ as our meeting hall was filled with the tunes of ‘Little Red Corvette’ and ‘Pink Cadillac’ and our ‘pit crews’ led by conference committee co-chairs Judy Hager and Marcia Pritchert who kept the conference driving ahead.
We were honored to have an informative and entertaining visit from the ‘King of the Road’ Art Young from RMASFAA and Rick Renshaw was ‘On the Road Again’ visiting us from the Department of Education. NDASFAA also raised a record donation amount for our annual conferences for this year’s philanthropy partner, the Anne Carlsen Center!
At the conference, we held our annual business meeting to discuss our committee updates and the direction of our organization moving forward. We were pleased to present to two of our members a scholarship to attend this year’s RMASFAA Summer Institute: Dakota Kidder and Danton Hein. We also selected the recipients of our NDASFAA Scholarship for students who will be attending college in ND.
NDASFAA also selected its President-Elect Janell Thomas, and was greeted by President Scott Lingen and Past-President Janelle Kilgore (pictured below left to right).
Our final evening together was capped off by a banquet in which we honored our retirees and years of service milestones.
Now that the conference has concluded we have some very important issues to look forward to this coming year. We look to continue to strengthen and grow our committees. NDASFAA has always been blessed with individuals who go above and beyond their traditional duties and work together to make this organization great. We take pride in showing that while we have one of the smallest contingencies in the region, simply due to the population of our state, the strengths of our efforts and solidarity is second to none!
NDASFAA, like all other state organizations, is working together to help each other through some difficult challenges associated with financial aid such as PPY & early FAFSA submission and gainful employment, to name a few. We also have had a unique opportunity to work with our U.S. Senate representative from ND to ensure that our voice is heard in Washington.
The NDASFAA Executive Board is also looking at reviewing its bylaws and policies & procedures this year. The challenge as always is balancing how those principles guide us as an organization without burdening ourselves with too much regulation. An organization needs to be nimble enough to navigate changes while remaining grounded in its principles in light of remembering its history.
We will be holding a fall professional development conference this November in Bismarck, ND and the planning committee is busy with the preparations. We’ve also selected the location of our 2017 annual spring conference which will be held in Dickinson, ND April 5-7.
NDASFAA certainly has a busy year ahead and I can say as President that I have full confidence in this organization to meet its challenges and I couldn’t be prouder to serve such a great group of professionals.
NDASFAA is also looking forward to hosting the 2018 RMASFAA conference in Fargo, which will be the 50th Anniversary celebration for RMASFAA! We look forward to seeing you there!
Bismarck State College
I am very excited to share with you that the 2016-17 RMASFAA Officer Election is ready to launch! Each institutional voting member will soon be receiving an emailed link to review the election ballot and cast their institutional vote. Since many of us are not voting members within the association, I wanted to share with you the outstanding roster of candidates who have graciously agreed to put their names forward for consideration:
- Kenneth Kocer, Director of Financial Assistance, Mount Marty College (SD)
- Thad Spaulding, Director of Financial Aid, Community College of Denver (CO)
- Stephanie Covington, Associate Director of Financial Aid, University of Kansas (KS)
- Chelsea Springer, Assistant Director of Financial Aid, University of Utah (UT)
- Susan Cordahl, Financial Aid Counselor, Mayville State University (ND)
- Erin Richards, Associate Financial Aid Director, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SD)
Treasurer (2-Year Term)
- Becca Dobry, Financial Aid Counselor/Work Study Coordinator, University of Nebraska at Kearney (NE)
- Shawn Rosaasen, Accountant, University of North Dakota (ND)
Associate Member Delegate
- Natalie Engelbrecht, Client Relations Manager, Financial Aid TV (CO)
- Deana Unger, Vice President of Financial Aid Operations, Inceptia (NE)
If you are the designated voting member at your institution, please take time to read over each candidates credentials contained within the ballot link you receive, seek input and feedback from other RMASFAA members in your office, and then cast your vote! If for any reason you are unable to vote via the electronic ballot, please contact me directly for a hard-copy form at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not the designated voting member at your institution, I encourage you to take a moment to share your thoughts with your designated voter – your opinions are important to the election process. Voting is open for 30 calendar days and the verified results of the election will be announced within a week of ballot closing.
Join me in applauding each of the officer candidates for their willingness to volunteer time and considerable talent to RMASFAA service! We have an incredible group of dedicated professionals here in the Rocky Mountain region – and I look forward to working with the winners of the election, as well as their challengers in whatever their form of service will be going forward.
Best to all,
2015-16 RMASFAA President-Elect
Chair, Nominations & Elections Committee
Please welcome Goal Structured Solutions, an education finance and asset management company, as a new associate member to RMASFAA! Dennis Wentworth, Vice President of Business Development, is the Goal Structured Solutions rep serving our region. Dennis is familiar with RMASFAA from previous work. The Membership Committee asked him a few questions about himself and asked him to introduce his company to us.
Q: How long have you been with Goal structured Solutions?
A: I started with Goal Structured Solutions (GS2)as their VP of Business Development last year after spending 14 years with USA Group/USA Funds and 11 years with Sallie Mae as their SVP of National Sales. Thanks for the opportunity to be re-introduced to the RMASFAA membership!
Q: What is your favorite thing about your work?
A: Education is about gaining knowledge and achieving dreams. I enjoy the opportunity to continue to build on my institutional relationships that I have developed across the country and create products and services for institutions that help students achieve their dreams and manage their obligation to achieve success.
Q: What is your professional and/or educational background?
A: I have a bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, and a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. I started my career as a Financial Aid Director in Illinois, then worked as the Regional Director of Financial Aid Services for the American College Testing Corporation (ACT) in Chicago, then moved to Indianapolis to be the VP of Sales/Marketing for the Midwest Region – USA Funds/USA Group. I worked for Sallie Mae as their SVP of National Sales for 11 years before joining GS2 last year.
Q: What can Goal Structured Solutions offer schools and their students?
A: Goal Structured Solutions, Inc. is a dynamic, values-driven asset management company that offers comprehensive solutions to the education loan industry. Our roots sprouted from education finance and our executive team expertly manages over $25 billion of private and federally-guaranteed student loans for our clients and partners. We offer services for debt acquisition, collection management and performance analytics. GS2’s Ascent Program for Funding (Private Loan Program), is designed to provide undergraduate and graduate, domestic and international students more access to loan funds than current private student loan lender products through broader credit tiers with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options.
Q: What do you do for fun/hobbies/favorites?
A: I am an avid skier and runner. Exercise is a key component in my daily schedule.
Q: Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
A: Tom Hanks!
Q: If you had the basics provided for you, what three items would you have to have with you if you were stranded on an island for a year?
A: A sharp knife, a gun with bullets, and matches.
Dennis plans to attend and provide an exhibit at the annual conference in Rapid City October 23-26. Be sure to learn more about Goal Structured Solutions at the conference and welcome Dennis back to RMASFAA! http://rmasfaa.org/docs/toc_conferences.html
Brought to you by the Membership Committee