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 5 of the series.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m proud to introduce to you your current RMASFAA Membership Committee!
During the past year the membership committee has been working hard to help people renew their memberships through RMASFAA! We are excited to be able to say several institutions who were not able to be members last year were now able to join us again this year! Welcome back friends!
We would also like to welcome our two newest RMASFAA members:
- Professional Connect LLP
- FluidReview by SurveyMonkey
One of the biggest things that we could use your help, as members, on is if you are the point of contact for your institution or association please make sure you take a moment and go out to the website to confirm all the people listed under your membership are still correct and current! If you need any help, let us know! (You can email Kelly at Kelly.email@example.com)
The RMASFAA Membership Committee is a great committee for people to get involved with RMASFAA. It doesn’t require travel, but will still give you the experience of serving on a RMASFAA committee. Each year the committee is filled with RMASFAA members from each state. So if you are interested in putting your name in to volunteer in the future, go out and complete the volunteer form! You won’t regret it!
“To the Stars Through Difficulty” is not just the Kansas motto – it is a way of life. The KASFAA Board continues to think outside the box and reimagine the way we “do business” in the state. This year, I am very excited to report we have an outstanding number of new volunteers to help guide the ship! An astonishing 91 people in the state stepped up and said “yes!” to volunteering either as an officer or committee volunteer. Past President Tony Lubbers is closing in on the slate of officers that we will soon be voting on to take over in the next year. Once again we have received a wonderful response. The future of KASFAA is in very good hands.
When the Board considers things to focus on, our attention directs itself first to the mission of the organization. The mission of KASFAA has a primary emphasis on membership training. Because of that, KASFAA still holds two face-to-face training events – one in the fall and one in the spring. Both training events continue to be well attended and members find them useful for sharing ideas and catching up. President-Elect Deb Brewer and her team of “animals” are cooking up exciting things for the Fall Training which will be held October 21-23 in Salina, Kansas.
On the entrepreneurial front, KASFAA finds itself asking big questions about what we are doing for outreach and service to high schools and high school students – another focus of our mission. As the FAFSA becomes easier and easier to complete, the need for events like College Goal Sunday become less helpful. Early this winter, the KASFAA Board disbanded its College Goal Sunday committee and replaced it with the FAFSA Completion Taskforce headed by Linda Oldham-Burns of the Kansas Board of Regents to tackle the question of how to better serve the students and high school counselors in the state of Kansas.
Another committee that is re-evaluating their work is the Publicity and Outreach group headed by Stephannie DeLong. This group is concentrating on creating an online resource base for high school counselors and students and expanding outreach in ways that speak to teenagers today. Again, because of the expanding amount of Federal websites containing cost information about schools in electronic formats, last year was the final year the group published a paper based poster that contained some of this same information. This group is examining how we can add our KASFAA stamp to information that is readily available on the Internet for students.
We have some definite challenges ahead to make our organization’s efforts more effective. But I am confident the brain power and energy exists within our current membership to shoot the KASFAA organization back up into orbit!
–Brenda Hicks, KASFAA President
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 4 of the series.
The 2015 Summer Institute Committee was Totally Tubular!
As this year’s Summer Institute Chair I would like to commend the committee and faculty for doing exceptional work and providing an outstanding experience for all of our attendees. Our theme this year was 80’s music and each class had a lot of fun with their chosen band/color. Summer Institute is a long week and it takes a significant group of talented people to make it happen each year. This year was no exception, the team was fantastic!
The Registration Chair was Angie Zeorlin from Wichita State and her Vice-Chair was Kelly Bauer from Front Range Community College. They organized all the registration information people were asked, every question being important in order for us to provide the best experience to the attendees. Angie was also responsible for sending all the great emails everyone received before the event…the 80’s band pictures she included were so much fun!
The Site Chair was Christy Jensen from the Colorado School of Mines and her Vice-Chair was Michael Nguyen from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. They really did a great job of coordinating communication with the campus and organizing a lot of the logistics for getting attendees to their classes and events.
The Entertainment Chair was Katie Nelson from Black Hills State and her Vice-Chair was Nikki Powell from Pratt Community College. They were responsible for pretty much anything fun that happened after classes were done for the day. From the opening Hungry Hippos game to the closing lip-sync air band skits, Entertainment works hard to make sure people have a great time.
This year’s Faculty Dean, Valerie Curtin from University of Montana Helena, and her Co-Dean (HA!), Sara Vancil from the University of Kansas did a phenomenal job with establishing a truly excellent faculty to teach this year. Val dealt with some unusual curveballs with faculty turnover and last minute adjustments, but with Sara’s support, they made sure each class went smoothly and everyone had what they needed for the week.
The reason we have Vice positions is because the volunteer commitment is two years. This is in order to ensure people have some exposure to how things went the year prior to them actually taking over the position and duties. There tends to be a lot of moving parts with Summer Institute and having “last year” that you can reference that you were a part of is super helpful.
The Faculty this year were so much fun to work with, every one of them a true superstar in their own right, but when they paired up to teach together the students really benefitted from some outstanding instruction and real-life examples of how other shops work. This year we had 9 classes:
Jenny Leigh Adler from Colorado State taught with Lois Madsen from Kansas Wesleyan. Their band was Motley Crue and of course their class color was black!
Christal Williams from Johnson County Community College taught with Susan Stephenson from Eastern Wyoming College. With the color purple, the only band they could have selected was Prince and The Revolution.
Vicki Kucera from Central Community College taught with Jill Robinson from BYU. They went with a band that started in the 70’s but certainly had hits in the 80’s, REO Speedwagon. Their class color was silver.
Linda Crook from Red Rocks Community College taught with the most eclectic bunch—the Committee! Her teaching partner had to withdraw right before the week started and we were all happy to pitch in and help the New Kid On The Block with her color teal.
Kathy Blau from Garden City Community College taught with James Broscheit from University of Northern Colorado. They had Eddie Money and the color green to work with. Kathy joined us for her financial aid swan song as she was retiring only weeks after this year’s Institute! We wish her well and much relaxation!
Janet Riis from Carroll College taught with Brenda Hicks from Southwestern College. They certainly had the beat with the Go-Go’s as their band and orange for their color. Their class won this year’s participation challenge at the end-of-week banquet dinner!
Sally Schuman from Colorado Mesa University taught with Joe Donlay from Colorado State. Simple Minds says it all…but that was also their band! They had maroon as their color and won the totally-made-up-award for ‘Most Austere’ decorations in their classroom.
Regina Carver from Weber State taught with Starla Russel from Western Dakota Technical Institute. They certainly had Heart…as their band! And their color was hot pink, which made for fun decorations!
Penny James from Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing taught with Sharon Kienow from Northern State University. They must have selected their band first because they picked one of the most 80’s bands out there in Journey, and their color was yellow. They taught the Director Track, which is a great resource for both new and soon-to-be or aspiring directors in our field.
As you can see, a strong, dynamic and pretty large group goes into putting on an event like Summer Institute. I was privileged to be a part of it this year, I am always humbled by how awesome the people in RMASFAA are and can’t wait to continue my role as ‘Past Chair’ next year!
And if you’re curious to see who the folks are in this post or to see evidence of how much fun we had at this year’s Institute, please check out the RMASFA facebook page! You can ‘like’ the page or individual pictures, but please do take a moment to browse through the pictures and posts to get a feel of what the week is like for everyone. We hope to see you there next year!
Enrollment issues are strictly a Registrar’s problem, right? Wrong! Because a student’s eligibility is determined in part by his/her enrollment status, plus your school’s definition of academic year, program length, and terms (or non-terms) can impact packaging and disbursement, it’s easy to see how enrollment can definitely be an issue for the Financial Aid Office! There is a ton of information and many subtopics that can fall under a heading of “enrollment issues,” but here are some tips and resources for a few of the most common.
Full-time = 12 or more credits
If your school provides standard term, credit-hour programs, then you must define full-time enrollment as at least 12 credits a term, including summer. Your registrar or academic side may define full-time differently, especially for shortened semesters like summer, but for financial aid purposes, summer enrollment definitions must remain consistent.
Speaking of Summer…
If a term-based program contains summer mini-sessions (or modules), the school may, but is not required to, combine the mini-sessions into a single term. The benefit of doing so is being able to use Formula 1 to disburse Pell. Beware: if your school chooses NOT to combine mini-sessions into a single payment period, then you must treat each mini-session as a separate nonstandard term and generally must use Formula 3 to calculate Pell payments. If ANY of a student’s program contains ANY nonstandard terms (including summer), then NONE of the program may be considered a standard program. This means that if you do not combine summer mini-sessions into one standard term, you can no longer consider your fall and spring semesters as standard and cannot use Formula 1 for Pell calculations. When calculating Pell, you must also use the same formula for all years in a student’s program.
Change in enrollment status
Most FAAs know that if a student has a change in enrollment status (e.g., full-time, half-time, etc.) between semesters or terms, that eligibility must be reviewed and the Pell award prorated to the appropriate disbursement schedule amount. What is sometimes missed is that the student’s Cost of Attendance must also be adjusted in these cases. If a student never attended a course and the credits from that course impact enrollment status, Pell AND COA amounts must be recalculated (e.g., student is enrolled in 12 credits and was paid at full-time status but never attended three credits, his Pell AND COA must be recalculated to three-quarter-time status).
Federal regulations don’t require any recalculation for changes in enrollment after a student has begun attendance in all classes; however, your school can have a policy of using a “census date” to “lock in” or “freeze” awards as of a certain date in a term after which enrollment status changes will not impact aid (assuming attendance in each class). This must be applied consistently to all students in a program. In other words, if the school chooses to increase Pell for a student whose enrollment status increases from half-time to full-time, it must also recalculate aid for a student whose enrollment status decreases. In the case of programs with modules, the school may have a policy of setting one census date based on the add/drop date of the last class in which the student enrolls (or is expected to enroll), but must take into account ALL adjustments to the enrollment status—both increases and decreases—up to that census date.
In a term-based program, a student may be repeatedly paid for taking the same course multiple times if she withdraws from the course or fails the course (normal SAP policy still applies). However, if the student passes a class (any grade higher than an “F” regardless of school policy) that was federally funded once, she can only receive funding for one retake of the class, no matter if she passes, fails, or withdraws from it a second time. You may not pay the student for retaking previously passed courses if she is required to retake those courses because she failed a different course.
Does your school have a way to track how many remedial/developmental credits each student has? A student enrolled solely in a remedial program is not considered to be in an eligible program for federal aid; however, if the student is admitted into an eligible program and takes remedial coursework within that program, he can be considered a regular student, even if he is taking all remedial courses before taking any regular courses. Only one year (or up to 30 semester or trimester hours) may be counted toward a student’s enrollment status for federal aid and qualitative assessment of Satisfactory Academic Progress, so you must be able to track these credits overall.
R2T4 and enrollment
Only courses counted toward TIV eligibility are counted in R2T4 calculations; therefore, if a student stops attending TIV-eligible courses but IS attending non-Title IV courses, he is still considered a withdrawal for Title IV purposes and R2T4 calculations must be performed.
2014 FSA Conference Session 9: “Basics of Determining Academic Calendars”
2014 FSA Conference Session 21: “All About Modules”
National Student Loan Data System Enrollment Reporting Guide
NASFAA’s Webinar: Student Eligibility – Enrollment Issues (requires specific membership level or for purchase); archived version available until August 24, 2015
NASFAA’s Webinar: Summer Aid Issues (free to NASFAA members); archived version available until November 10, 2015
This Tip of the Month was provided by your RMASFAA Training Committee
The past couple of summers I have played on a Ladies Golf League. Now this is by no means a serious league and I am by no means a great golfer. Really I joined to have some fun. I am actually quite horrendous, for those of you who know golf, I have an 18 handicap (highest allowed) on a par 29. For those not in the golf know that’s BAD (capital letters required bad). As part of the league I have the chance to golf with people I may not know, which is always a fun time. However as part of almost all adult getting-to-know-each-other conversations comes the inevitable question. Over the course of my career I have come to anticipate, fear, loathe, detest and eventually embrace this questions. By now you may be wondering what type of people I hang out with to evoke such a response to a question. Rest assured these are wonderful ladies. The question by itself is an innocent question as is the answer. However it is the reaction to the answer that can poison a conversation.
The question I most dread answering is….
What do you do for a living? Or some variation of that.
Innocent, right? Great way to start of conversation, right? But boy o’ boy could that question be any more explosive.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not embarrassed by my job. I love what I do. Financial Aid is the career for me. My co-workers and institution are just fabulous. I will stop with the clichés now.
But I get it, I get people’s reactions and their random questions. Here I am someone who works in a field that baffles, bewilders, frustrates, and angers that masses. In our field we work with two things no one ever wants to mess with. Someone’s money and someone’s kid. Throw a few adult beverages in there and were sitting on a potential powder keg of explosion.
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone’s reaction to my career choice is anger. There are plenty of people who will now view me as their own personal fountain of knowledge to be beckoned at their whims. And there are still others who take note and move on with the conversation.
By now you may be wondering, where is she going with this? Well, this is not just a phenomenon related to golf. This happens in all aspects. For example I just received a Facebook message from my brother’s good friend’s wife (whom I have never met) asking what they should do for their son attending a school in Iowa. I know I can’t be the only one who gets these types of reactions and random questions. There has to be others that dread the career question as much as me.
Over the years I have tried various different approaches to people’s reactions.
I have tried the fake smile. You know the one I mean, the I am going to keep smiling and nodding my head like I care while I am actually thinking about what I am going to cook that night.
Or the deadpan look. The one where your eyes slowly glaze over until there is no trace of emotion left on your face, hoping that the person can pick up on it.
Now don’t get me wrong I give the sincere and correct answer when I can. But having these types of reactions can really bring down a golf game. And mine doesn’t need any more help being “brought down.”
Now if you have a magic wand or have found a way to stem the barrage of volatile reactions LET ME KNOW. Otherwise how can we best handle these situation professionally, ethically and still have a glimmer of hope of having a decent golf game?
One of the best approaches that I have found is the generic answer. I work in higher education. Or I work at UNK. Both answers accurate, vastly generic, but a great way to still be able to claim your career without “claiming” your career.
Another approach I utilize when someone starts vomiting out financial aid questions is a two pronged approach. Step one find out what college the student is attending/planning on attending. Step two refer the person to that financial aid office. Now occasionally this backfires and the student is at my institution but when confronted with that situation I use my get out of jail free card. Ethics! I state that since student financial aid is confidential it would be best to answer these questions in my office so confidentiality is maintained.
How about those angry or woe is me debtors. This types of situations can be tricky. If I get the “angry I have so much student loan debt” I try to SHUT THEM DOWN! I try my hardest to not let them go there. These is usually accomplished by saying so what I am hearing you say is that your degree is not worth anything. That usually makes people backtrack very quickly because of course their degree is worth something. For the “I have too much loan debt, you should feel bad for me” individuals I happily spout out that there are several different repayment plans and they should talk to their loan servicer about them.
Now I could keep going on and on and on about the various questions, reactions, and encounters I have when people know that I work in financial aid and my various approaches to help better my golf game. But I’m not going to. I am going to switch tracks and tell you what I have finally come to accept and understand about these encounters.
They are coming from a place of fear, frustration, and desperation. By being able to put an approachable face to our career opens up a world of reactions. These reactions are starting to give me hope. It gives me hope that students and families will be more confident, inspired, and nicer when speaking with other financial aid administrators. It gives me hope that maybe I can change the perception of our field. It also give me hope that one day maybe, just maybe, I can exploit their services.
Hope you all have a great day!
–Becca Dobry, Association News Co-Chair, Nebraska
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 3 of the series.
RMASFAA’s Training Committee is tasked with planning and arranging for all regional training activities except the annual conference and Summer Institute. In recent years, this has meant that the Training Committee was responsible for determining a topic and creating a presentation to deliver at each state conference. After much discussion, this year the Committee decided to focus on offering strategies for how to use technological tools to communicate with students and to provide an opportunity to hear social media “best practices” from colleagues. The presentation, titled Communicating with 21st-Century Students:#Say What?, covered social media, generational issues, collaborating with other campus offices, FERPA implications and other areas relating to reaching Millennial and iGen students via multiple social media platforms. If you weren’t able to attend your state conference or missed this session, you’re in luck! It will be presented again at RMASFAA’s annual conference October 11-14 in Westminster, CO.
In addition, this year the Committee worked closely with Association News to provide Tip of the Month blogs on different topics with active links to a myriad of resources on each subject. Tips to date include:
- December: Consumer Information
- January: Financial Aid Toolkit
- February: R2T4
- March: Financial aid terminology
- April: Creating an office Facebook page
- May: Dealing with presentation anxiety
- June: Time management
- July: Reviewing ISIR transactions
- August: Enrollment issues
Watch for two more great tips in September and October! Access archived tips on the RMASFAA blog https://rmasfaa.wordpress.com/ by selecting a month from the Archives section on the right-hand side of the page.
Mark Tuesday, October 6, 2015 on your calendars to participate in RMASFAA’s first webinar! We are delighted to announce this date and the webinar topic, which will focus on consumer information compliance issues including Gainful Employment! Stay tuned for presentation details and how to register (free with RMASFAA membership!) for this exciting new training.
The Training Committee members who have worked diligently to provide you such a variety of information this year are:
Susan Stephenson, Chair – Eastern Wyoming College (WY)
Katie Nettell, Vice-Chair – Lake Region State College (ND)
Kristen Gast – Sheridan College (WY)
Sheila Johns – Western Nebraska Community College (NE)
Mike Mutziger – Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. (SD)
Leslie Olsen – Carroll College (MT)
Jana Parks – Baker University (KS)
Jill Robinson – Brigham Young University (UT)
Steve Woodburn – Colorado Christian University (CO)
The Training Committee requires dedication and participation from its members for the whole RMASFAA year, from after the annual conference in October when the committee is established through the conference the following year, but it is a fun and rewarding committee on which to serve. Members not only get great satisfaction from sharing knowledge and providing worthwhile information to RMASFAA members and colleagues, but end up personally learning a significant amount because of the research involved in creating tips and presentations. I highly recommend every RMASFAA member volunteer for a committee; those who enjoy research and teaching should consider trying the Training Committee! Volunteer forms are available at http://rmasfaa.org/docs/forms/memVolunteer.html
RMASFAA Training Committee Chair
I interviewed Peg Mason (mentor) and Monica Kopcow (mentee) who participated in RMASFAA’s Leadership Pipeline in 2012-13. Peg is Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Colorado School of Mines and Monica is Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Colorado State University. When I asked each of them to submit a photo, I got surprises: Monica is with “Marilyn Monroe” who attended the 2013 NASFAA conference, and Peg is pictured with her oldest grandson Malachi who is three years old. What fun!! (It shows you that financial aid administrators do lead interesting lives…)
What led to your decision to participate in the Leadership Pipeline program?
Peg: I have had many informal mentors over the 25+ years I’ve been in Financial Aid that have been invaluable in my career. I wanted to share what I have learned from my mentors to someone who wanted to grow in their profession.
Monica: As a first generation college student, I realized the immense value mentors have played in my life and career choices. After reading about the Leadership Pipeline and discussing it with a colleague who had previously gone through it, I applied. I felt the Leadership Pipeline program would be a great way to enhance communication skills, leadership skills and job satisfaction. Colleagues understand firsthand the complexities of the financial aid world and office structure. I realized there was more to growing professionally than attending meetings, seeing students, applying regulations etc. I wanted the opportunity to spend time with colleagues from all over the region learning from each other and to become more involved with RMASFAA.
What would you consider the most valuable take-away from this program?
Peg: I learned that when you share with others, you also learn from them. Being a mentor is definitely sharing/learning in both directions.
Monica: Learning from each other and having the ability to contact financial aid peers and mentors whenever you need advice or help. The connections and friendships gained through the experience are incredibly valuable.
How have you incorporated your RMASFAA Leadership Pipeline experience into your personal and/or professional life?
Peg: I enjoy keeping in touch with colleagues all over the country. You never know when you can help or receive help from a colleague when a ‘problem’ arises. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel.
Monica: When I was in the Leadership Pipeline Program, we discussed chapters from the NASFAA book: “You’re The Director: A Guide to Leadership in Student Financial Aid.” Each of the participants took a chapter of the book and led a discussion. I chose the chapter on efficiency written by Justin Draeger, NASFAA President. We were fortunate to have Justin attend the RMASFAA conference that year where I was able to talk with him about the efficiency concepts he wrote about. I later went on to do an efficiency presentation for my office and on our campus using examples of how I applied the concepts in my job. In July 2013, my presentation was chosen by the NASFAA Conference Committee where I got to present it at the Annual Conference. The experience of presenting and applying something I learned in Leadership Pipeline and the valuable tips from people I spoke with along the way, is forever memorable. I still apply many of the efficiency concepts I learned and spoke about in my personal and professional life. Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? I encourage you to learn about it. It will change the way you view your daily tasks.
In what ways do you think this program can benefit individuals as well as our professional associations as a whole?
Peg: We are a unique family. Connecting members of our family with each other is an amazing opportunity. It always puts a smile on my face when I walk into a room filled with colleagues from around the state, region, or country and I immediately feel a connection. You don’t have to be from the same kind of school/institution to appreciate what you each do every day to serve students and their families.
Monica: Have you ever watched the movie Groundhog Day? We get up around the same time each day, go to work around the same time, eat lunch, go home, make dinner, sleep, repeat etc. As a financial aid professional, I can say I have experienced Groundhog Day firsthand. However, Leadership Pipeline is a great opportunity for individuals needing a boost or a change from their everyday financial aid tasks. You have the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the most experienced and dedicated individuals in financial aid from across the region. When amazing participants/mentors get together in one room, there is no way you cannot grow as an Individual professionally and personally. Participants take that knowledge back to their home institutions and ideas flourish. RMASFAA as a whole benefits when individuals give back to the organization what they have learned through ideas, participation, collaboration and leadership.
What advice would you give a colleague who is considering being a mentor or mentee in the Leadership Pipeline program?
Peg: Whether you are an extrovert, an introvert or somewhere in between, there is always something to be shared/gained. Take the leap!
Monica: Just do it! You have ideas, you are smart (because you chose the financial aid profession, of course) and you have an opportunity to let that grow. Remember, you will get out of it what you put into it. Give it your all, share your ideas and learn from each other. Let RMASFAA benefit from what you have to offer. Your colleagues can’t wait to see you become the leader you are meant to be!
Brenda: All I can say is “WOW!”
–Brenda Murtha, Association News Committee Member, Augustana College, South Dakota