Ascent


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Solutions to Help Your Students Get Funding

The struggle is real, as students say these days. In fact, the struggle is real for students – the struggle to pay for college, that is.

Students and families face significant challenges to find funding for college as costs continue to increase. But as a student financial aid administrator, you’re likely keenly aware of these challenges.

But did you know, after putting together the plan to finance their education, more than half of the student respondents of a recent nationwide survey reported that they take on even more of the burden of paying for their education than originally anticipated. In most cases, these students are covering at least 50 percent of the total cost.

The survey, conducted by Ascent Student Loans in May 2018, provides valuable insights on students’ financial aid plans for this coming school year. This includes the fact that students feel their school is doing an effective job of helping them work through these potential challenges. Nearly half of students (47.2 percent) said they feel their college is doing an extremely or very good job educating them on the total cost of their education. What’s more, when asked who they turn to most for information, students believe their college financial aid office is most responsible for educating them about financial aid options (36 percent) and is also their most trustworthy source (nearly 50 percent). We find this sentiment encouraging, even as the finance environment continues to frustrate students.

Is there a way to decrease the frustration toward paying for college, mitigate the struggle to find financing and lower the apprehension around the long-term impact of today’s financial decisions? As a student financial aid administrator, you’re on the front line with students and families, but you alone can’t change the culture around student aid.

Private loan administrators have the flexibility to shift the industry culture, which is exactly what the Ascent Student Loans program has done.

The Ascent program is guided by a focus on transparency, financial education and student outcomes, working with students and families to view college and their financial aid options as an investment, not an expenditure. Further, Ascent is the only student loan provider that incorporates financial education into the application process and requires all students and cosigners to complete a financial literacy module before approving loans.

When evaluating ways to support your students in the 2018-19 academic year, the Ascent Tuition loan can be considered for students with a creditworthy cosigner. As you are aware, an existing challenge for many students is finding financing when they lack a qualified cosigner. The Ascent Independent loan offers a solution to student borrowers without a cosigner and Ascent is the only national lender offering students this option.

How did we do it? Putting student and family needs first. We hope you’ll keep reading about the innovation behind the Ascent Independent non-cosigner option, reach out with questions or begin the discussion on how to bring Ascent products to your institution.  READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Tips to Make Your Work Easier: Email Management


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When I was charged with the task of trying to give my best time saving tasks, I was struggling to come up with an idea that wouldn’t be something that has already been said in our previous posts regarding this subject.  I asked my director if he had any tips he could think of and would be willing to share with me.  Thankfully, Josh came through as always!

One of the biggest things we do in our office to try to keep the stress to a minimum (okay, okay…we all know that “minimum stress” in our choice of career is non-existent, but hear me out!) is to try to clear out our email inboxes every day.  Having a backlog of emails sitting in the inbox staring you down day in and day out is anxiety inducing.

I may keep a few emails about pending situations in my inbox, but for the most part I will answer each one to the best of my ability and then I will (sometimes too excitedly) delete them.  My deleted folder is not set to do a mass delete of my emails after a certain date so I will always have access to go back and look through those emails if I ever need to do so.

Josh said he moves his to a resolved folder instead of his deleted folder because it feels safer to him.  Then, in order to keep that folder within quick reach at the top of his folder list, he puts a period in front of the folder name.  For example, .Resolved Emails.

Either way you choose to do maintain your incoming emails, it helps to maintain a sense of productivity and control to help keep that part of your work plate clean as much as possible.  Hopefully this suggestion will come in handy to someone who feels like they need some guidance in some way to help to make the workday less stressful.

Kristi Blevins

Kristi Blevins
Financial Aid Specialist
Highland Community College

 

Inceptia


Inceptia

Be Free to Serve Your Students

Is your financial aid office struggling with staffing constraints, shrinking budgets, increased regulatory requirements and data security concerns? Have you heard of service partnerships and considered utilizing one but just haven’t taken the next step? If so, you’re on your way to helping your staff become more efficient and so they can concentrate on helping your students be more successful. If you haven’t considered a service partnership, you’re in for surprise.

What exactly can a service partner do for you? Let’s take Inceptia for example, a service partner aimed at uncomplicating financial aid, who believes whole heartedly in service partnership as a path for successful student outcomes. Inceptia’s unique approach enables you to enhance your student experience with intuitive, streamlined processes for students and families while also reducing expenses and improving staff efficiency.

Refocus Your Team

Give your staff relief from cumbersome busywork and long hours. Outsourcing a function that can be securely administered off-site is an ideal way to redirect your team’s valuable time on their core competency of counseling for student success where and when they need it.

Instant Access to Skilled and Experienced Resources

The Inceptia team is focused on being well-versed in the options available to students in every step of their repayment journey. Our counselors are encouraged to take the time necessary to listen, help answer questions and resolve their issues. With more than 30 years of history in the field, every department has team members with direct leadership experience in the financial aid office.

Reduce Security Risks and Compliance Changes

With changing regulations and the dangers associated with data security, network infrastructure is the backbone of your service delivery. As that infrastructure becomes increasingly sophisticated, maintaining a secure and regulatory-compliant network becomes time-consuming, costly, and complex. At Inceptia, all student data is centralized in a FISMA-secure environment. We meet or exceed federal requirements for data encryption and are a TECH LOCK® Certified: Service Provider.

Save on Infrastructure and Technology

Many Financial Aid Offices don’t have a dedicated technology resource. If a system goes down or changes need to be made, are institutional back up resources readily available? With Inceptia, you are partnering with a dedicated staff using leading technology to remove the responsibility and cost of technology management.

Enhance Student Satisfaction

Students want a solution that is easy to use and understand so they can move on with their education. By streamlining the financial aid process with Inceptia’s easy-to-understand workflows, you are delivering the most current, secure user experience the industry has to offer. When conversation is needed, our counselors are encouraged to take the time necessary to listen, help answer questions, and resolve their issues.

We share your passion for counseling students to a successful financial outcome and are constantly looking for new ways to help you achieve your goals. Inceptia’s services and streamlined processes can get your team back to working with students. Together, we build brighter futures.

The ABCs of Student Finance: Accessibility, Borrowing, Completion


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By Amy Glynn, VP of Financial Aid and Community Initiatives

Education offers people a way to better themselves, their situation, and the trajectory of their entire family. For many, financial aid is crucial to the higher education journey—for a large percentage of them, it’s also a huge barrier. My colleagues and I have spent years working in higher ed, and our combined knowledge of—and passion for—the student finance journey has led us to the concept of the ABCs of Student Finance: Access, Borrowing, and Completion.

We believe that focusing on these three areas drives success for students and institutions alike. By continually developing technology, initiatives, and awareness around these three areas, we can empower schools to help more students change their lives through higher education and the opportunities it provides.

The ABCs of Student Finance: Simple and Complicated

These three words—accessibility, borrowing, completion—seem simple enough, but each is also intricately complicated, and they’re all interconnected. These themes affect student outcomes across the higher education journey—beginning, middle, and end—and are three of the most important topics surrounding higher education today. In this article, I’ll explain the framework and foundation of these concepts:

Increasing Accessibility

Higher education is often considered the gateway to the American Dream. But not everyone has the same ability to access higher education—to even get a foot in the door. Increasing accessibility means expanding students’ knowledge of institutional options, expanding access to counseling resources so they are making the right decision, and improving accessibility across at-risk populations where education can truly be life-changing.

Reducing Student Borrowing

There’s no question the amount of student loan debt in this country is staggering—$1.5 trillion. But rather than focusing on the number, we should focus on how confused students are about how much they’ve really borrowed. By instituting annual loan counselling and more informative award letters, we can help students make better, more informed choices about the true level of debt they plan to take on—and how it can impact the future.

Driving Completion

The worst type of student debt is debt without a degree, because students who attain credits and incur debt, yet end up with no degree to show for it are more than likely to remain stuck in jobs they would’ve had prior to starting college, only now with less money to survive on. This reality is the greatest failure of the higher education vertical, which is why increasing completion rates is as critical as increasing access and reducing borrowing. Enhancing high school partnerships that focus on each student’s college readiness—rather than eligibility—is a good start.

ABCs of Student Finance: More to Come

Armed with the basics of the ABCs of student finance, I encourage you to add your voice to the discussion. I’ll be expanding on the concepts of accessibility, borrowing, and completion in future articles and would love to know your thoughts. Because if you’re reading this, you—like us—care deeply about providing solutions to the problems facing students in higher education.

Introducing the 2018-2019 Leadership Pipeline Class


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The Leadership Pipeline committee is very proud to announce the next group of mentees who will soon know the way, go the way and show the way!

From a group of 16 fabulous applicants from 7 states (Seriously, it was incredibly difficult this year to choose), the following people were chosen as the 2018-2019 Leadership Pipeline class.

Tracey Buisker, South Dakota State University (SD)

Jordan Eisenmenger, Central Community College (NE)

Steve Enriquez, Wichita Area Technical College (KS)

Tabitha Haynes, University of Nebraska – Lincoln (NE)

Carrie Jordanger, Lake Area Technical Institute (SD)

Emily Linn, University of Providence (MT)

Cortney Lockhart, Wichita State University (KS)

Parker Nielsen, Utah Valley University (UT)

Lacey Shandera, Laramie County Community College (WY)

Ellen Smith, University of Montana (MT)

 

This class will kick off their experience following the RMASFAA conference in Fargo, ND and will spend the year working with their assigned mentor.  They will graduate at the 2019 RMASFAA conference to be held in Montana.

A big THANK YOU is also due to the 10 individuals who volunteered to be mentors.  They are listed below.

James Broscheit, Montana State University – Bozeman (MT)

Nathan Buche, Hutchinson Community College (KS)

John Curl, Utah Valley University (UT)

Judy Hager, Jamestown University (ND)

Cindy Kiefer, Flathead Valley Community College (MT)

Janell Kilgore, University of North Dakota (ND)

Vicki Kucera, Central Community College (NE)

Katie Nettell, Lake Region State College (ND)

Becky Pribyl, Northern State University (SD)

Chelsea Springer, University of Utah (UT)

 

On behalf of the Leadership Pipeline committee, we are looking forward to a terrific year of activity and conversation!

Brenda Hicks, Co-Chair, Leadership Pipeline

Wyoming Spotlight


I love attending WyASFAA. Meeting new faces, seeing old friends. We are small but fierce as a state association, and the camaraderie just grows with each year’s conference. This year I tasked myself with finding out something new about one of my fellow financial aid peeps. Our icebreaker for WyASFAA was a bingo game of sorts – getting to know our friends based on facts shared throughout earlier monthly newsletters – our new President is good at making sure we are all paying attention to detail. It was fun and energizing, and I definitely learned new things about every person.

I chose to elaborate on Anna Miller from Casper College. Anna has been in financial aid at Casper College for 6 years. She is funny and outgoing, and just a really neat person. I over heard someone say something about bedazzling skulls. “Squeeze me? Bacon powder?” (our theme was Kickin’ It Old School). I was instantly intrigued and just had to know more. Here is Anna’s spin on her talent:

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The bedazzling of skulls really started in the past couple of years. It stemmed from becoming an avid huntsman, or I like to say, hunts”woman”. I only started to hunt when I met my spouse about 5 years ago. He grew up hunting in the Bighorn Mountains and around the Sweetwater in Wyoming. He shared his lifestyle and values with me that sparked an interest in me.

I have come to learn with wild game, whether it is elk, deer, moose, buffalo or antelope that the animal offers you quite a bit other than just the meat from its bones. We smoke the bones and organs for our dogs, while we use the muscles (meat) for ourselves. Antlers make a great chew toy as well to the pups…or as a cribbage board.

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It occurred to me a couple years ago, ‘why not use the skulls since we use everything else from the animal?’ In a way, it makes me feel like I am paying homage to a creature that will be providing so much to my family for the coming year.

I believe there are plans to bedazzle our President’s tomahawk and the carry case it rests in.

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Brenda Haseman
Scholarship Coordinator
Northern Wyoming Community College District