Thankful


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What is better than getting to go to RMASFAA? Getting to go to RMASFAA on a scholarship!! I was a lucky and incredibly grateful recipient of a DMCI scholarship to attend the RMASFAA conference this fall in Rapid City, SD and what a great opportunity this was.

I had never attended RMASFAA before this year and I was incredibly excited to not only be a first-time attendee, but also a presenter of a session as part of the RMASFAA Training Committee. The location for this conference couldn’t have been better and spending the first night’s dinner being serenaded by Joe Massman’s beautiful rendition of America’s anthem, while looking out at Mt. Rushmore lit up under the night sky, was truly an experience. Those who set up this whole conference should be proud of the wonderful event they put on and the local and historical experiences they brought to everyone.

Getting to not only learn from peers in my region, but being able to present to them what we worked so hard on in the Training Committee was extremely rewarding. The financial aid community is so willing to learn and open to sharing their own experiences, trials, and even their lunch tables (considering I hardly knew anyone and attended alone). I valued this conference so much more than FSA because being in the same region we tend to face a lot of the same obstacles and it is extremely beneficial to collaborate on solutions.

I would not have been able to attend this conference and develop myself more as a financial aid professional without the DMCI scholarship, so for that, I am extremely thankful.

 

Ashlee Dutton
Assistant Director of Financial Aid Customer Service/Technology
Pikes Peak Community College

iHELP Student Loans


iHELP offers both private student loans and a consolidation option, but we do it with style. We’re parents – so we treat our customers as if they were our own children going off to and graduating from college. We’re not your typical lender, and we’re proud of it.

Our student loan program provide students and their families a way to cover that gap in their college financing. We work with two and four year post-secondary schools that are non-profit and Title IV certified.

iHELP also offers consolidation loans for recent college graduates. A consolidation loan gives graduates the opportunity to unify student loans into one, potentially money-saving account.

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What makes us different?

We work with a number of community banks all across the country. The Independent Community Banks of America (ICBA) is the nation’s voice for community banks and it sponsors the iHELP programs through member banks. We collaborate with community banks because they share similar philosophies to iHELP. Our program gives students the option to work with a bank they are comfortable with and trust.

Customers are assigned to one of our student loan experts to serve as their single point of contact. Call center environments may work for other companies, but they don’t work for us, and they don’t work for our customers. Our servicing company and the program’s administrator, Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation, has over 38 years of experience with student lending. We provide servicing for the entire life of our loans and borrowers aren’t handed off from one servicing company to the next.

Transparency is important us, because it’s important to students and their families. We don’t hide origination or repayment fees in the paperwork and we take the time to help borrowers understand their loan and how it’s structured. We treat students and their parents as the people they are, not numbers.

With iHELP, students and their families receive the best bang for their buck. Not only do we offer competitive rates, but we give borrowers an opportunity to work with a real person, who knows education loans inside and out. We’re college graduates, parents, and we’re here to help with resources and answers about financing a college education. In an industry dominated by automatic recordings, we’re happy to cut through the clutter and be a choice customers trust and enjoy working with.

To learn more about iHELP visit www.ihelploan.com or you can contact Craig Green at craigg@slfc.com or 605-622-4507.

Brought to you by:
Craig Green
Marketing Director
iHelp Student Loans

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2016 RMASFAA Award Winners


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A big congratulations to the following committee and individuals who received awards during the annual conference last month in South Dakota.

Committee of the Year: Annual Conference Committee

  • Carolyn Halgerson (Co-Chair)-South Dakota State University
  • Laura Schultz (Co-Chair)-Wells Fargo Education Financial Services

Along with numerous committee leads and their teams.

RMASFAA Hall of Fame:  Robb Cummings from Sallie Mae

Oscar R “Jack” Hendrix Award:  Donna Carter from Wichita State University & Becca Dobry from the University of Nebraska-Kearney

Distinguished Service Award:  James Broscheit from the University of Northern Colorado

Ron Smout Award for Teaching and Mentoring:  Jim Swanson (retired) from Colorado College

 

Thank you all for your service to RMASFAA.

 

2017/2018 Transition: Burdensome For Financial Aid


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Transitioning to the 17-18 aid year is going to be one of the most burdensome efforts you’ve ever faced, financial aid. As with the rollout of any new aid year, financial aid in 17-18 will undergo changes compared to 16-17. Updates to year references, changes to verification, C Codes being added or removed, new founding options—things change. They have to change, to keep up with our changing industry, changing student demands, and more. So why is this year going to be particularly burdensome?

A Perfect Storm: PPY & Early FAFSA

The shift to prior-prior year (PPY) tax information on the Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) has caused a perfect storm in terms of conflicting information. Never before—and hopefully never again—has the potential for conflicts across aid years on the FAFSA been so high.

For one time only, 39 answers on a student’s FAFSA should exactly match from 16-17 to 17-18. If a student provides information that isn’t an exact match, and PELL eligibility between the years falls outside of tolerance levels established by the Department of Education (ED), a C Code 399 may be generated, flagging the student’s Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) and halting fund disbursement immediately.

C Code 399’s Impact: Office Workload

Only students with a PELL-eligible Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in 17-18 could potentially be flagged with a C Code 399, says ED. In the 2014-2015 aid year 8.2 Million students received a PELL grant. If only 15% of those Pell grant recipients were flagged as containing conflicting information outside the threshold, that would mean 1,230,000 C Code 399 flags for aid offices across the country to clear. This could be a mountain of work.

C Code 399 lmpacts Your Neediest Students

How do we make this as easy as possible on students, while simultaneously ensuring all administrative requirements are met? Understanding what will be required of us as schools is crucial. I consider it a three-step process: Identify, Research, and Resolve. Remember, each singular step will have its own task list.

Step 1: Identify

This will be problematic for any Financial Aid Office that doesn’t plan to load ISIR files to their Student Information System (SIS) until November, January, or even April. Institutions are required to immediately halt future aid disbursements and work study payments from the time that the C Code 399 is generated by ED and processed to the school.

How will you know to hold aid disbursement if you have no visibility into what ISIRs your office has received? You will either need to upgrade early or find another way to identify students who have a 399. If you are a school that does not load all ISIR records to your SIS, you’ll need to find a way to review the suspended/held records to determine if you have ISIRs for both years.

Step 2: Research

Once the students who have been flagged with a C Code 399 have been identified, if resolution is required then all future disbursements of aid for both aid years (16/17 and 17/18) must be suspended.  To resolve, you’ll need to review the ISIRs to determine which data elements hold discrepancies from one aid year to the next. Does your SIS currently offer functionality to locate these discrepancies? It’s a good question to ask them. Finding the discrepancies will be a bit like playing ‘Where’s Waldo,’ as you’ll have to compare up to 39 fields per year until you find the conflicting information.

Next you’ll need to determine if any documentation exists on-file to clear the conflict.  Documentation can take different forms. For example, successful transfer of tax information with an 02 Data Retrieval Code in either aid year will work. Additionally, a tax transcript, and—late-breaking from ED—a copy of the tax return, also count to clear conflicts for 399.

If documentation is not currently available to clear the conflict, you’ll need to notify the student of your request that they provide necessary additional documentation. This communication should also include the details students will need to understand the situation—it’s highly unlikely they’ll know anything about C Code 399 or conflicting information, and will have questions.

Situations where a C Code 399 flag is not required are outlined in a flowchart from the ED, titled Guidance to Date.

Step 3: Resolution

Once all of the documentation needed to resolve the instance of a C Code 399 is in possession by your office, the entire file needs to be reviewed. This review is made to ensure that both aid years are using the appropriate financial data to determine eligibility of aid. ISIR corrections need to be identified, processed, and awards adjusted. Adjustments will require student notification, and if the EFC has increased returns may be required and students reported as being in over-award of need-based aid. This step is likely where your office would prefer to spend more of its time, counselling students on the changes, answering their questions, and helping them find a successful path forward.

Non-Compliance Repercussions

If you do not stop disbursements of aid, resolve the conflicting information, and adjust awards accordingly, ED is authorized to take action. Your office may be audited in terms of over awards, under awards, conflicting information, ineligible disbursements, and potential demonstration of administrative incompetence.  Fines may be levied, heightened cash monitoring may be enforced, and additional reviews may occur.

We have to believe the long-term positive impacts on students and Financial Aid Offices will be much greater than the potential negative impacts that could occur in this one transition year. But it’s certainly going to be one tumultuous year as we all work through this.

Easily find & resolve C Code 399 with CampusLogic >

Brought to you by:
Amy Glynn
VP of Financial Aid & Community Initiatives
CampusLogic

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RMASFAA Conference Philanthropy


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Sew for Kids is an organization on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Their motto is “Sewing together for the children of Pine Ridge Reservation”. Pine Ridge Reservation is the second largest Indian reservation in the US, located about 50 miles from Rapid City, SD and in the two poorest counties in the entire US. The reservation covers about two million acres and is home to 30,000 Oglala Lakota Sioux Indians. 50-60% of children on the reservation live in substandard and over-crowded housing, many without electricity, running water, insulation, a sewage system or even kitchen appliances.

Although Sew for Kids was formed to send quality clothing, shoes and other items to children on the Pine Ridge Reservation, they assist many other organizations with requested items. Their parent organization was recently changed to Lakota Friends Circle (a 501(c)3 corporation). Lakota Friends Circle supports projects initiated by Lakota community members, including both emergency needs and long-term sustainability (food and energy assistance; woodcutting; programs for youth, families and elders; educational needs; home renovation and construction; renewable energy planning and community gardening).

We will have a booth near the Registration table to accept donations during the conference.

For the 2016 RMASFAA Philanthropy project we are requesting the following:

  • Monetary donations – Please make checks payable to Lakota Friends Circle
    • For those traveling, we know luggage space is tight but cash and checks do not take up much space
  • Clothing for children (boys and girls) ages 0 through 10 or clothing 0-3 months up to size 12-14:
    • Winter coats, Warm hats, Mittens, Scarves, Winter boots, Underwear, Socks, Shoes, Shirts, Pants, Dresses, Pajamas
  • School Supplies (yes we know it is past the start of school but school supplies do need to be replenished during the year)

Learn more about Lakota Friends Circle HERE.

Read the latest on the Sew for Kids blog HERE.

Please consider contributing to this deserving organization. Thank you!

Have questions about the conference?  Feel free to contact our Conference Co-Chairs:

Carolyn Halgerson                                                     Laura Schultz
Phone: (605) 688-4695                                            Phone: (402) 315-9312
Email: carolyn.halgerson@sdstate.edu       Email: laura.j.schultz@wellsfargo.com

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