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Summer Institute Update

February 9, 2016

Update from the President

February 8, 2016


As it turns out, Punxsutawney Phil did NOT see his shadow this Groundhog Day – so clearly, we’re all in for an early spring. Let us ditch the coats and break out the Ray-Bans, because balmy days are on the way!! Yeah right… no offense to Phil, but I dare say that ol’ Phil might be ill-informed. Or at least that was the sentiment going through my head as I stood outside today (freezing in my bathrobe) supervising my dog Macie, gingerly taking care of her “morning constitutional” in foot-and-a-half-deep snow and single-digit temperatures. Needless to say, I am ready for spring – bring it on!

Ushering in spring also means that RMASFAA activities begin to ramp up with enthusiasm! Your 2015-16 Board of Directors have been busy since October to prepare for another fantastic year in our regional association. Some of the highlights include:

  • The RMASFAA Exchange Blog! Kudos to Association News Committee Chair Becca Dobry for her continued work to produce quality blog content week in and week out. Her team has worked to enhance the blogging schedule to provide a combination of fun, educational, and informative information. Association News is also exploring ways to more seamlessly integrate the blog with Facebook and other social media platforms.
  • The 2016 Corporate Support Form is now available! Many thanks to Corporate Support Committee Chair Jennifer Almli for re-vamping the form to reflect RMASFAA’s newly-adopted support structure and having everything ready right after the new year.
  • Membership Chair Susan Stephenson and her team have launched the 2016 membership drive. If you haven’t already done so, please renew your institutional membership today! Doing so ensures your continued access to RMASFAA resources, news, the best rates for Summer Institute and the Annual Conference, and allows your institution to participate in the upcoming election.
  • Speaking of the election, President-Elect and Nominations and Elections Committee Chair Vicki Kucera will soon be placing a call out for candidate nominations to run for regional office! Be on the lookout for that notice and consider throwing your name into the hat for the position of President-Elect, Vice President, Secretary, or Associate Member Delegate for 2016-17.
  • Summer Institute Committee Chair Cristi Millard will be hosting a weekend planning meeting for her committee and faculty on February 6th and 7th in Denver. Summer Institute will be held on the beautiful Colorado School of Mines campus June 12th – 17th.   RMASFAA facilitates the BEST summer institute program in the nation – and once again, we have a top-flight group of colleagues working hard to plan another stellar training opportunity for new and seasoned aid professionals. Look for more information to come from the Committee later this spring.
  • Association Governance, led by Past-President Art Young has held three highly-productive meetings since October. That group has been charged with moving key elements of RMASFAA’s new Strategic Long Range Plan forward and making recommendations to the Board on a host of topics ranging from association revenue, officer roles, responsibilities, and tenure, and procedural changes designed increase Board effectiveness and broaden service to the membership.
  • Annual Conference Co-Chairs Carolyn Halgerson and Laura Schultz have already held a successful in-person planning meeting with their committee and efforts are already in full-swing for our fall gathering in beautiful Rapid City, South Dakota this October 23rd – 26th. The Black Hills are a gorgeous spot for our annual conference and will be a terrific backdrop for what’s guaranteed to be an very educational and entertaining professional development opportunity!
  • President-Elect Vicki Kucera will be attending NASFAA’s Annual Leadership & Legislative Conference February 22-24th in Washington D.C.  Along with the other five regional presidents-elect, she will also attend a Board Orientation meeting at NASFAA Headquarters to prepare for stepping onto the national board this summer as the new regional observer.  Past-President Art Young and I will also be in D.C. that week to attend the NASFAA Winter Board of Directors meeting.

Feb Pres.jpg

In other news, the Broncos are in the Super Bowl once again!! I imagine that the big game with the Carolina Panthers will be over and done with by the time you read this blog, but SASFAA (Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) President Amy Berrier and I have a friendly little wager going based on who takes away the Vince Lombardi trophy – the President whose region’s team loses on Sunday will cut a personal check for $50 to the winner’s conference philanthropy project.   Those of you who know Amy are likely aware that she BLEEDS Carolina Panther blue (and has a particularly stubborn self-assurance that her team is going to win), but I’m really looking forward to collecting some cash from her after a nice Rocky Mountain smack-down this weekend… :)

Our regional association is in a very good place right now, due entirely to our engaged membership, wonderful volunteers, and our shared commitment to developing exceptional student aid professionals who are well-equipped to advocate for the students we serve. Thank You for your ongoing support of RMASFAA!

With every good wish,

-Joe Donlay, RMASFAA President

Joe Biz Pic



RMASFAA Website – Member Services

January 22, 2016

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to renew your institution’s RMASFAA membership. But while you’re at it, this would be a good time to do a little housekeeping, too. I know, I know… your husband does all the laundry and dirty dishes, but this is easier and less time consuming. While you’re on the ‘Member Services’ page of the website look at all the options there in front of you.

Web 1


Since you are renewing your institution’s membership, take the time to Update Institution/Agency Information and make any corrections that you may find, such as COA items or a change in Professional Software. Maybe you offer online coursework, but have not updated that on your profile.

Another task that needs done is Add or Delete Members. I know none of us have any staff turnover, but what about the financial aid advisor that won the lottery and never came back to work? Or the Administrative assistant that was promoted to President? You should remove these dear friends and add the new people in your office so that they may take advantage of the benefits of being a RMASFAA member, such as… accessing the Volunteer Form so they can enjoy the rewards of sacrificing their time to be on a committee that makes things happen and all of the camaraderie that goes along with that. Or they might wish to search the membership directory for long lost friends or search for a mentor to help them achieve the pinnacle of RMASFAA service. There are just some many things that you can do on the RMASFAA website. The possibilities are endless.


Happy Trails! – Russ McBee, Chair, Electronic Initiatives.

Dear Diary – January 2016

January 20, 2016

Introducing a new blog series Dear Diary! 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.


January 2016

Dear Diary,

Well I’ve finally run out of excuses not to volunteer to be involved with RMASFAA Summer Institute. I’m also getting tired of hearing colleagues say “you should teach”. My supervisor was one of the most supportive of this idea. So I’ve thrown my name in the hat and the offer was quickly accepted. Very quickly.

Still not so sure I should be molding young minds. LOL But after ## years in the profession and being a master of financial aid trivia, it’s about time.

The entire SI staff will be meeting in Denver next month. The theme this year is How to Win at the Financial Aid Game. If I had a choice, Shoots and Ladders might make a good option for the class. Or maybe Wheel of Fortune. Yes, that’s it! I’ll take Verification for $200. I know that as a first-time instructor, I’ll be paired up with someone who has done this before. So mostly I’m excited and maybe 10% apprehensive.

More next month….

Verification Vera

Training Tip of the Month – January

January 12, 2016

Did you Know

Do people listen to you?

“I’m sorry! Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?” I don’t who to give credit for this sentence but it seems appropriate, in a rude way, for many situations. Does this ever happen to you? You are speaking to a group of people in a meeting or party. Someone starts to talk over you like you are invisible or not important. How disrespectful can people be? You quit talking and they don’t even know they were rude.. Does this happen all the time? Erika Andersen, Forbes contributor, offers 3 Simple Ways to Get People to Listen You.


  1. Listen – When you truly listen to someone, give them your undivided attention, it will make people want to hear what you have to say when it’s your turn to speak. Practice your listening skill by appreciating the person speaking as you listen to what they are saying. Make sure they feel heard by leaning in, having eye contact and showing respect. Don’t interrupt the person who is speaking. Verify your understanding of what they said by restating what you heard or making appropriate comments about the story or report.
  2. Cut to the chase – Do you find people trying to help you by interrupting or summarizing what you said before you are done? Before starting to talk, take a minute to think about how to communicate the message in a simple way. Students and parents often glaze over as we talk about federal financial aid. Practice what you are going to say so you have the message ready.
  3. Read the room – if you are talking to a group and they are not paying attention. They are doodling, whispering, reading and responding to email. Stop talking. Ask questions and find out what they are interested in hearing.

To summarize: if you want people to listen to you: listen to them, focus on what they are interested by painting vivid pictures and keep your story clear and simple. Listening is a core management skill used daily by leaders.

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

Why renew your RMASFAA membership?

January 11, 2016

Where else can you…

see important people (even presidents!),

President pic

RMASFAA 2015 Annual Conference; four presidents promote the 2016 Your Rock! conference in Rapid City


dress up,

Si pic

2015 Summer Institute


network with friends,


2014 Summer Institute


play silly games,


Minute to Win It at Summer Institute 2014


find a mentor,


Cristi Millard, Shauna Savage, Ricki Jones, Julie Watson, and Monica Kopcow, 2015 Annual Conference


witness a wedding,


2015 Annual Conference, RMASFAA-ly Ever After


jam a little,


Classes competed for top lip syncing band at Summer Institute 2015




President-elect Vicki Kucera, President Joe Donlay, and Past President Art Young have all given countless hours to RMASFAA!


get good info (and some fun things to take back to the office),


Exploring the vendor area, 2015 Annual Conference


AND learn a lot about financial aid in the process?!?



All for only $100!

Renew today at:

See more photos online at RMASFAA’s Photo Gallery page:

New Year’s Resolution

January 4, 2016

Dear friends,

Rather than making New Year’s resolutions that I know won’t make it until the end of January, I’ve come up with a short list for the office that probably have a much better chance of success. Thought I’d share with you. Anyone else have additions to share?

New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Take a moment to pause before answering the same question I’ve already answered 20 times today. I need to remember this is the first time that student is asking it.
  2. Not to roll my eyes when the Department of Education releases “mid-year verification changes”. Ok, maybe just a little.
  3. Promote the IRS DRT more vigorously at the high school level, keeping in mind that an investment of 5 minutes now can save me 20 minutes later.
  4. Ask colleagues for help before I pull my hair out researching a reg.
  5. Become more connected with RMASFAA.
  6. Be brave. Try something new. Remembering that FAIL actually stands for First Attempt In Learning.
  7. Clean my desk. (ROFL)
  8. Remember to say “thank you” more.
  9. Do one good deed each day.
  10. Never lose my happy place.

M. Massey

Michelle Massey
Financial Aid Technician
Laramie County Community College
Cheyenne, WY