DMCI Scholarship Recipient – Ashley Stevenson

My experience at RMASFAA was a lot more than what I expected and I got so much more out of it than I thought I would. Being one of the Diversity and Multicultural Initiatives scholarship recipients, I am so grateful to be able to attend the conference in Wichita and meet so many amazing people.

Attending this conference really helped me branch out and network with people from all over the region. Since the conference, I have been in contact with many conference attendees to help get ideas on how to make my position better. Without attending RMASFAA I don’t think I would have such a strong network of people within Higher Education.

I attended a lot of great classes but one of the classes that stood most out to me was the ‘Becoming a Director’ class.  This class really helped put my goals in perspective and gave me a checklist of things I need to do in order to become a Director. One of the main points that has stuck with me is when the presenter said ‘Do the most you can possible do to be an expert in your job, so when the time comes that a director positions opens, you are already prepared.’ This really helped align my career goals and encouraged me to become more of an expert in my position and within my office. So when the time comes, I am prepared to lead.

Another great class was by Billie Jo Hamilton on ‘What is Leadership’.  She really helped explain that not all leaders are made the same and she encouraged us to find our individual leadership skills. She helped us realize our strengths as leaders and how we can become great influencers in our positions. She also dived into the difference of being a leader vs. being a manager. Not that one is more important than the other, but both are needed for different situations.
Lastly, she really encouraged us to find our passions as leaders and utilize our strengths.

This conference really helped me realize that my job here at Utah Valley University, is a lot bigger than me.  There are so many people in the region who are willing to help me succeed and for that I am thankful.

I am so grateful to attend the Wichita Conference not only as a DCMI Scholarship Receipt but also as a member of the newest Leadership Pipeline Class of 2017-2018. I am excited to see where this new journey will take me.

See everyone at Summer Institute in 2018!

Ashley Stevenson - DMCI Recipient
Ashley Stevenson
Federal Work Study Program Coordinator
Utah Valley University

President’s Welcome

On behalf of the RMASFAA Board of Directors, I would like to extend our warmest greetings and best wishes. We’re looking forward to an exciting and eventful year ahead. Here are some of the many exciting events we have planned:

Our premier training event and nationally recognized Rocky Mountain Summer Institute will be coming to Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO June 3-8, 2018. This excellent training event, located in the beautiful Rocky Mountain range, will provide an outstanding learning opportunity for individuals new to the profession as well as experienced administrators.

In 2018, we will be celebrating RMASFAA’s 50th Anniversary of service to the financial aid profession. RMASFAA’s mission, from the beginning, has been to promote preparation, leadership development, effectiveness, and mutual support of persons involved in financial aid administration as well as assisting in the implementation of programs that will have a positive impact on students’ ability to pay for higher education. Make plans to attend the 2018 RMASFAA Conference in Fargo, ND October 7-10 and join in celebrating fifty years of RMASFAA excellence. The conference committee is already well on their way in putting together an exceptional program and event.

This year we will also begin the review and implementation of a new strategic plan for our association to be completed in 2018. What makes RMASFAA so unique and vibrant is the involvement from our membership. The Board of Directors will be looking for your input on where you feel RMASFAA should be concentrating our efforts for the future. Please provide your feedback on the direction you would like to see us move in the future.

I am so looking forward to the year ahead and I want to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me with your views and ideas on how to keep our RMASFAA legacy of excellence going strong.

All my best,

Ken Kocer

Ken Kocer
President, Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators


Push and Pull

Tension? What Tension? #JustKidding
By Amy Glynn, VP of Financial Aid & Community Initiatives

At the 2017 NASFAA National Conference, @TylerPruett was part of a panel discussing “Communication Planning and Execution: The Right Message at the Right Time.” He was funny, eloquent—and exceedingly truthful. Our social media team captured his humor, in a great way, with this tweet:


It hit home because it’s a tension that we all know exists—but don’t really talk about. And we should. The most difficult days I faced as a Director of Financial Aid included meetings with students who had found their home on my campus only to realize it was a home they couldn’t afford to fund.

Bridge the Tension Over Troubled, Collaborative Waters

The relationship between FinAid and other departments—admissions and enrollment, for example—isn’t always easy. Schools work diligently to align the different groups, with over 50% of financial aid teams reporting into enrollment management. Yet I often hear Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” playing in my head when people ask how well we all collaborate.

Our Common Goal: Student Success

In the best cases, a campus’ administrative groups work toward a common goal of enrolling students who are a good fit and well educated on all aspects of college—including cost and funding options. In the worst cases, competing goals and objectives can cause “minor civil wars,” where the casualties are students.

Here are a few suggestions for bridging the gap between enrollment and financial aid:

  • Assume positive intent.

Remember: No one is out to get you or make your life harder than it already is.  Assuming positive intent isn’t always easy, but it is integral to strong cross-departmental relationships. Both groups have the same goal in mind: To enroll, educate, retain, and graduate students who are ready to embrace the next challenge in life—a career.

  • Focus on the big picture.

The end goal can easily be lost if short-term, siloed goals and objectives take the spotlight. Keep the bigger picture in mind. Both the admissions and financial aid offices play an important role in the university’s ability to enroll, educate, retain, and graduate students.

  • Leverage each other’s strengths.

Admissions teams already have built a strong relationship with prospective students; they are familiar with how and when students like to receive information. Work collaboratively to ensure that admissions communications have quality information and resources on college cost, financial aid, and return on educational investment.

  • Be flexible.

There are many areas where FinAid communications can support and expand enrollment messaging and tone. Make your award letter a tool to drive enrollment while educating students on cost and funding options. Have you considered including video content in the award letter? Rivier University in NH offers a digital award letter—and for the first time, contains a video aerial tour of the campus.

  • Educate yourself and others.

We often fear things we don’t understand. Help other departments better understand financial aid, too, by offering to train and educate them. Stay at a high level and do not get lost in the details that can be overwhelming. As hard as it is to imagine, not everybody gets excited by R2T4 and awarding philosophies. I know, strange, right??

Leadership Pipeline: Shelby Garner

This post concludes the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that made up this year’s class, including Shelby, graduated from the Leadership Pipeline program during the annual conference in Wichita, Kansas. Congratulations!



What is your current position and how long have you’ve worked in financial aid?

I am an Enrollment Services Specialist at Casper College in Casper, Wyoming.  I started working in the financial aid office in 2011 as a work study student after the customer service center that I worked in for 6 years closed.  I officially became a full-time financial aid processor 3 years ago in 2014.

Who is your mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Pat McTee, the director of student success services at American Indian College Fund. Pat has been a great person to bounce questions off of and just learn from.  We have talked many times about customer service experiences and different ways of handling student situations that may arise in our office.  One of the first times we spoke, he recommended that I watch “Who Moved My Cheese?”  I had seen the book in the past and always wondered what it was about so I went home and watched it.  What a great example of how your attitude and the way you look at things can make a huge difference!  It’s hard to believe that we are at the end of our year-long journey with Leadership Pipeline, I am glad that I have had the chance to get to know Pat!

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I had first heard about Leadership Pipeline through the RMASFAA Exchange Blog, and then again at the RMASFAA conference in Colorado.  I am an extreme introvert and was looking for ways to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone and have the courage to take on roles first at the state level and eventually the regional level.  This is the first job I’ve ever had that has allowed me so many opportunities for professional development and with the encouragement of my boss at the time (thank you Darry!) I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

There are so many takeaways that I have from being involved in this program, it’s hard to pick just one. I think that the most valuable thing I’ve learned is that there is a wealth of knowledge in our region, and it’s so easy to reach out to others to gain insight and different perspectives on issues that we may encounter in our day to day lives. (And my experience so far is, no one bites when you ask!)

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program? 

I am hoping to graduate the program with a greater level of self-confidence to take on projects or leadership roles that mean something to me, rather than just saying yes to say yes.

When I applied for the Leadership Pipeline program, I had listed that one of my goals was to grow and finesse our current work-study program on our campus; I have been working closely with my director at Casper College and feel that we are starting to take steps toward making this goal a reality.  I’m not sure I would’ve had the confidence to pursue this as vigorously were it not for my involvement in Leadership Pipeline.

Why would you recommend this program to others?

I would recommend this program to others as a way to get familiar with RMASFAA on a smaller level. I will admit that I was a bit overwhelmed attending my first conference and felt a little out of place because everyone seemed to know everyone else. This program helps to plant the seeds of networking and makes it less scary to reach out to others in the region with questions. Plus, I’ve met some amazing people that I otherwise may not have met without being part of the program.


Citizens One

What to Expect with a Student Loan Co-signer

citizens one


Learn more about what a co-signer is, who can co-sign a student loan and how co-signing a private student loan impacts a co-signer’s credit

Lending institution must be sure borrowers have steady income and reasonably good credit record before they’ll lend them money. Unfortunately, because most undergraduate students do not have established credit scores or steady incomes, many will not qualify for a loan on their own or, if they do, they likely won’t qualify for the best rates.

In order to be approved for a student loan, students will likely need to apply for student loans with a co-signer of their choice. A co-signer can be any trusted adult who is willing and financially qualified. Learn more about what it means to be a co-signer, how it could impact credit and what alternative options are available in this guide from Citizens Bank.

Student loan co-signer considerations

Before deciding whether or not to become a co-signer, you might want to recommend that your student’s potential co-signer take the following aspects of co-signing a student loan into account:

  • Co-signing a loan could lead to lower interest rates
  • Co-signers may be released from the loan early
  • Co-signing can help a student establish credit
  • Co-signing a loan will impact the co-signer’s credit

Alternatives to taking out a student loan with a co-signer

Rather than co-signing a student loan, some parents, guardians or other trusted adults choose to take out a parent student loan on a child’s behalf. With parent student loans, the responsibility for repayment falls solely to the adult borrower rather than the student. The Citizens One Student Loan for Parents is a private parent student loan that offers competitive rates along with flexible terms and repayment options. For more information about the Citizens Bank Student Loan for Parents or on co-signing a student loan vs. taking out a parent student loan, contact a Student Lending Specialist.

Learn more about college loan options and planning and paying for college from Citizens One

There are several factors that the student and trusted adult should consider when determining whether to apply for a student loan with a co-signer or applying for a parent student loan on their own, and we’re here to help you understand them. The student loan application process  is a guide to help answer your questions on applying for loans. We offer helpful information on planning and payment for college at