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Our Outstanding Committees – Corporate Support

October 2, 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 10 of the series.

The Corporate Support Committee has the responsibilities for soliciting funds for general corporate support, advertising, and exhibition fees from organizations that support the mission of the Association, and to ensure recognition of corporate support.

This year’s members are:

Ken Wallace, Chair – Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.
Jennifer Almli, Vice Chair – Student Assistance Foundation
Alan Ishida – American Student Assistance (Stepped Down Due to Company Change)

The committee this year has begun the process of reviewing the current sponsorship offering and based on many discussions have come to see the need of revising and updating the current menu options. Much of this work will be finalized by the 2015/2016 Board and may take place for the 2016 Annual Conference. The committee is also tasked with working with all Association committees to secure corporate support and advertising dollars, ensure corporate support of all Association activities, reporting such to the specific committees and the Board of Directors, coordinate the billing of corporate support funds with the Treasurer and to compile data concerning the annual corporate support.

With all of this said, RMASFAA appreciates all of the Associate Members who not only provide financial support but also support RMASFAA with their time and expertise. Their valued support allows this committee to succeed and helps RMASFAA realize its mission.

Chasing Your Butterflies Away: How to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

September 28, 2015

How many of you have been told by a boss or some other authority figure, that you need to give a speech or a presentation in front of a group of people.  How did that make you feel?  Did it make you feel like you had suddenly encountered a Bear or a Mountain Lion that looked like it wanted to eat you?

The fear of public speaking is real.  There’s even a scientific term for it, “Glossophobia” and a scientific theory behind our fear of public speaking.  In the early days when humans roamed in small groups or clans, a person who spoke out and offecavemannded his clan members could be driven out of the group.  This could be a death sentence for people who relied on each other to survive, and so people who developed a fear of speaking in public tended to survive, and to pass their fear onto their offspring.

Now in modern times we’re not likely to die if we offend our audience, but that fear remains.

So how do we overcome this possibly genetic fear?

First prepare and practice as much as you can.  Nothing reduces fear like preparation.  Write down your presentation word for word, convert it into an outline and practice it in front of a mirror.

Dress appropriately, but dress better than your audience.  If your addressing a group of ranchers dressed in blue jeans, wear your best blue jeans and a jacket.  If it’s a social occasion then a tuxedo or an evening gown may be appropriate.  For business settings then wear your best business attire.  Dressing well increases your confidence, and your authority.

Arrive early.  Familiarize yourself with the layout, and the schedule.  Meet the person introducing you and give them a written introduction they can read.  This helps them put you in a positive light.  Make sure the equipment you need works.  Stand on the podium or behind the lectern and get a feel for the space.  As audience member come in, strike up a conversation with them.   These will be your new friends who you’ve made feel special by talking to them, and they are now on your side.

When you are introduced, take a deep breath and visualize the butterflies in your stomach flying away.  Then take a minute to look out over your audience and pick out those friendly faces you talked to earlier.  Make your opening remarks to them.

Make sure your opening remarks are well memorized.  Opening remarks that you know by heart give you a crutch to hang onto as you are getting used to talking in front of the audience.  For those of you who have given presentations, have you noticed that your nervousness goes down as you get further along with a speech?  The act of speaking helps you get used to speaking, which in turn helps reduce your nervousness.

As you are speaking, try to be aware of the pace of your voice.  It’s natural if you’re nervous to want to speak fast and get the experience done, but speaking rapidly also increases your nervousness.  So pause, visualize those butterflies fluttering gently around your head, and speak more slowly. It will calm you down.

Make sure your ending is as well rehearsed as the beginning of your speech.    Nothing inflicts terror as much as not being sure how to end what you’ve started.  The best ending for a speech is one that recaps what you said and then brings it back to the beginning.

And finally the best way I know to lose your fear of public speaking is to practice it often.  I belong to a Toastmasters Club, which is just a group of very nice people who meet every week to practice public speaking.  Toastmasters International has over 14,000 clubs worldwide, so it’s likely there’s one near you.  Other venues for practicing public speaking include speaker’s clubs, and organizations such as Powertalk International.


Most of us are susceptible to Glossophobia, but we need not be bound to the fears of our Stone Age relatives.  With practice and preparation, and by utilizing a few public speaking techniques, you too can become a fearless public speaker.

–Roger Matthew, Association News Committee Member, Montana

Our Outstanding Committees – Association News

September 25, 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 9 of the series.

The Association News Committee has been hard at work this year bringing you engaging and informative content through the RMASFAA Exchange, our online blog hosted through WordPress.

We have one committee member from each state. Each contributes several articles throughout the year from state updates to profiles of RMASFAA members to articles on topics of their choice.   Our fabulous committee members are:

  • Sara Vancil, Chair, University of Kansas
  • Becca Dobry, Co-Chair, University of Nebraska – Kearney
  • Jim Harris, Colorado State University
  • Eleanor Roberts, Brigham Young University (UT)
  • Brenda Murtha, Augustana College (SD)
  • Andrew Bernston, North Dakota State University
  • Roger Matthew, Montana State University – Bozeman
  • Michelle Massey, Laramie County Community College (WY)

The Association News Committee was tasked with a few important goals during this year.

First, as part of RMASFAA’s Strategic Directions plan, we were asked to continue to increase subscribers to the blog, the RMASFAA Exchange. In December 2014, each member of the committee personally emailed members from their states who were not already subscribed to the blog. This definitely had an impact. As of the February 2014 board meeting, the blog had 242 subscribers. As of August 2015, the blog has 500 subscribers. RMASFAA currently has about 1400 individual members so it’s wonderful that over a third of our members want to stay tuned in to original content coming from RMASFAA members!

Second, the committee was tasked with putting into place a structured timeline for when content will be posted to the blog. At the February 2014 board meeting, Deb Byers proposed and the board approved an outline of what will be posted and when. For example, the RMASFAA President is asked to post an update every two months.

The Association News committee was also encouraged to include in this timeline ways that other committees could be regularly featured on the blog. If you’ve noticed, the Training committee has been posting a monthly training tip. And we’ve had regular updates from Electronic Initiatives, Leadership Pipeline, Summer Institute and Conference Planning.

This structured timeline has allowed the committee to increase the number of blog posts but it has also allowed RMASFAA members the opportunity to stay more up to date with what our elected leaders and committees are doing!

We are on track to post between 80 and 100 articles to the RMASFAA Exchange during the October 2014 to October 2015 year. We hope that you have enjoyed all of the content we’ve been able to put together for you!


Register NOW for RMASFAA’s First Webinar!

September 24, 2015

Consumer Information Requirements: Tips on Making an Audit a Little Smoother

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. MST 

Who doesn’t want to make an audit smoother?!? Find out from a former Fed, Dr. Jeremy Early! Jeremy
will share best practices for staying in compliance with the myriad of Consumer Information requirements, including the latest conundrum in the Financial Aid World, the dreaded Gainful Employment.


Dr. Early is pictured here with co-presenter, audit finding enforcer and faithful companion, Harper.

Jeremy is the Associate Director for Administrative Services in Housing and Residential Education at the University of Utah. Prior to this position, he worked in the financial aid field for several years: as an Institutional Review Specialist (auditor) for the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid, Director of Financial Aid at a community college in Denver and nearly five years in financial aid at the University of Kansas. During Jeremy’s tenure with the Department, he got the opportunity to travel the Chicago/Denver region, auditing all types of institutions. One of his strong focuses was on consumer requirements. Jeremy earned his bachelor’s degree in communication-journalism from Truman State University (MO), and both his master’s and doctoral degrees in higher education administration from the University of Kansas.

Space is limited to the first 100 registrants; please register only one per office and then watch as a group!

The webinar is FREE, so sign up TODAY!!!

RMASFAA Training Committee

Training Tip of the Month – September

September 21, 2015

It’s just past mid-terms and you are listening to an upset student tell you he left school because he made some poor financial decisions. He purchased a second car that he can’t afford, he has mounting credit card debt, and he told you he was not able to pay his bills and continue to attend college. As a result he dropped out the middle of fall semester to get his bills in order, not realizing that he still owes the college for some unpaid charges and now may owe back some of the federal aid he received. What can you do to ensure he finishes his degree? What could you have done earlier to prevent this situation? Teaching the basics of financial literacy at multiple stages during their educational careers can help students like him before they get to the point of dropping out.

Many young people are not prepared to manage their finances when they reach adulthood. At the same time the current financial service marketplace is becoming more complex. For many young people, going into the workforce or entering higher education is the first time they may have had to make some financial decisions, and they may end up learning some hard-learned (and expensive!) lessons. Students’ unfortunate borrowing choices have an impact on colleges and universities as well; an institution’s Cohort Default Rate and Gainful Employment data can suffer when students continue to make uninformed educational, career, and repayment decisions.

We may agree that financial education programs are necessary for today’s students. But are they effective? There is a tendency for people–not just young people–to tune out the minute finances are discussed. The Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations’ (COHEAO) Financial Literacy Awareness White Paper (November 2012) outlines qualities that improve student retention. Three specific qualities that the publication emphasizes are critical to any financial literacy education strategy are relevance, interaction and repetition.

Relevance refers to the probability the student will need the information in the near future. The effectiveness of financial education is increased when it is personalized and can be applied to the student’s own situation. College students are often managing their own money for the first time–a time when student loans are an option to help pay the bills. What better time to offer budgeting help and student loan management information?

Interaction forces the student to apply what they are learning to their own life. Educational videos and games can be used to encourage students to interact and apply what they are learning. Mapping Your Future’s and are two online sites that provide interactive tools to engage students and provide relevant real-world examples. Using students for peer-to-peer counseling is also highly effective. For a more comprehensive list of websites, see the COHEAO’s White Paper (link in Resources below).

Repetition can be a highly effective educational tool. Introducing personal finance lessons into various initiatives such as online curriculum, new student orientations, classroom courses, workshops, e-mail communication and student events can reinforce the importance of financial literacy. The goals of a financial education plan should be integrated through each activity and carried out throughout the year. Use different types of resources to repeat information and engage students as well: videos, games, books, calculators, webinars, newsletters, chats, and social media are popular and can help you have a continuous message about the importance of financial literacy.

Finally, have a way to track your results. Use pre- and post-testing and surveys or focus groups to help determine your most successful campaigns so you can build on your plan’s strengths and gauge student satisfaction.


COHEAO Financial Literacy Awareness White Paper

The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool (FACT) on provides tools and information to help students understand their financial aid and manage their finances:

Repayment Estimator

2014 FSA Conference Session 37: “Financial Literacy Resources and Updates: What Student Borrowers Need to Know”



Federal Aid Toolkit: Financial Literacy

FDIC’s Money Smart Financial Education Program

Other online Federal resources

Other free financial literacy resources

National Endowment for Financial Education:

NEFE’s CashCourse for campus use:

CNN’s Money 101:

Goodwill Community Foundation’s Money Basics:

360 Degrees of Financial Literacy:

$ALT: Financial Literacy:

iGrad’s College Financial Literacy Compendium:          

Loan servicers, banks and credit unions also offer a multitude of financial literacy resources.

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

Our Outstanding Committees – Finance and Audit

September 18, 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 8 of the series.

It’s Monday at 9 o’clock and I know what you’re thinking… ”Are RMASFAA’s finances in order?”

On the off chance that you had other things on your mind, here’s an update. The Finance and Audit Committee is responsible for monitoring the money and putting together the annual budget. We work with our amazing Treasurer, David Martin, to schedule an external audit and we keep track of RMASFAA’s assets. During the past year, we’ve kept an eye on things and done some homework.

The first issue we dug into was regarding RMASFAA’s reserves. Essentially, when you shake the piggy bank, it should jingle, but if it is so full that you can’t pick it up, is that a bad thing? Should RMASFAA be spending more on training, activities, etc. rather than growing our savings? The research seemed to indicate that while there are guidelines, we (RMASFAA) have to answer that for ourselves. So ask yourself, how big should the piggy be so he jingles just right?

The second topic we looked at concerns the role of the treasurer in an association. Should this be a job held by one person or should the duties be divided up? We surveyed the state associations that make up RMASFAA as well as the other regional financial aid associations. The results showed that only 1 had a past treasurer position and just 3 had a treasurer-elect. RMASFAA’s policy of having one person carry the piggy for 2 years, is running about average.

Lastly, Widmer Roel was hired to do an external audit of RMASFAA’s books and also to file our 2014 tax return. Our piggy bank should be all set for another year.

A big thank you goes to my awesome committee members who got to shake the pig:


Donna Carter, Vice Chair (and soon to be Treasurer!), Wichita State University, KS


Lou Melucci, Vice Chair, University of Colorado-Boulder, CO


Judy Hager, Member, University of Jamestown, ND


Jon Dechant, Member, IBMC College, CO

Summer is almost gone so enjoy a picnic or a pig out and know that RMASFAA’s money is in the bank (last pig reference, I promise)!



Becky Pribyl, Chair, Northern State University, SD

Leadership Pipeline Spotlight

September 17, 2015

This month’s spotlight features Angela Osborn (mentee) and Deana Unger (mentor). Angela and Deana participated in the pipeline during 2012-2013.  Angela currently works at the University of North Dakota and has been in the financial aid field for 10 years.  Angela began her career in financial aid as a student worker.  Deana currently works for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has been in the financial aid field for 24 years!

What would you consider the most valuable take-away from this program?

Angela – The pipeline is totally worth the time and effort. You have the opportunity to learn and work with the best in our profession. It is amazing.

Deana – I really enjoyed getting to know Angela, and our one-on-one monthly preparation for the large group discussion allowed us to share personal perspectives and experiences that were enlightening.

What advice would you give a colleague who is considering being a mentor or mentee in the Leadership Pipeline program?

Angela – I would highly recommend doing it. It is an extremely rewarding experience.

Deana – Go for it!!  Regardless of whether you’re a mentor or mentee, it’s a great opportunity to learn from and share thoughts with a great group of colleagues!

What made you choose to participate as a mentee/mentor in Leadership Pipeline?

Angela – I wanted to push myself to be a better leader. My office was going through significant changes and I wanted to be a positive influence to help our staff feel comfortable with those changes.

Deana – I’ve always enjoyed being involved in RMASFAA and Leadership Pipeline presented an option to be involved in a very different way.

How did participating in the pipeline affect or direct your professional development?

Angela – The pipeline helped me get to know and develop relationships, friendships really, with other professionals in the region.

Deana – With our hectic daily schedules, I think it’s sometimes easy to let professional development slide, so Leadership Pipeline forced me (in a good way!)  to make time to step away from more routine day-to-day activities and place a focus on my personal and professional development.

Do you still keep in touch with your mentor/mentee?

Angela – Yes, I ask Deana for advice all the time.  I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful person and resource willing to help!

Deana – We do still keep in touch!  With busy offices and schedules, maybe not as much as we’d like, but we do reach out to each other for feedback regarding office processes and unusual financial aid situations when the need arises.  And it’s always fun to catch up on a personal level, too.
Andrew Berntson
Association News Committee Member, North Dakota

Andy Berntson