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NASFAA Update from RMASFAA Past President

April 29, 2016

The NASFAA Board of Directors met February 24-25 in Arlington, Virginia. The agenda included the following:

  • Demonstration of NASFAA’s new Compliance Engine tool, which will be available this summer (with the P&P Builder to roll out an estimated 6 months later)
  • Update on the upcoming NASFAA Conference, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the association (believe me, it’s a party you won’t want to miss!)
  • Report from the Financial Affairs Committee regarding the recent “due diligence” review of investment advisors
  • Association Governance Committee’s effort to survey college presidents on how they perceive financial aid administrators and the FA office on their campus
  • Approval and acceptance of the final report from the recent task force on Consumer Information and Law Student Indebtedness
  • Review and discussion of the recommendations from the Dynamic Loan Limits working group
  • Federal update from Terry Hartle, Senior VP, American Council on Education
  • Reauthorization discussions with both Republican and Democratic Congressional Staff
  • Update from Ted Mitchell, U.S. Under Secretary of Education, and Jeff Appel, Deputy Under Secretary

It’s an exciting, eventful time to work in financial aid! It has been my privilege to serve on the board this year. The NASFAA Board, leadership, and staff are absolutely committed to representing the best interests of our members and the students you serve, and I have thoroughly enjoyed associating with and learning from such passionate and dedicated professionals. If you are a NASFAA member, you can access the full minutes from the meeting here (you will need to log in with your NASFAA username and password).

As part of my NASFAA responsibilities, I am currently serving as a member of the focus group examining NASFAA webinars. This group has been tasked with evaluating the quality of webinars provided to the membership and providing recommendations and considerations to the board. I am also part of a “thought force” that has been convened to focus on aligning state, regional and national efforts. This effort includes highlighting strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities of our current national-regional-state association structure. We will also identify next steps for exploration, as well as potential models that might reduce duplication of effort, with the goal of increasing efficiency and value for all.

Please let me know if you have feedback or suggestions regarding the evaluation of NASFAA webinars; the discussion regarding state, regional, and national associations; or any other topic. I am eager to hear your feedback and to carry your ideas forward to the national level. Thank you again for the opportunity to serve RMASFAA and NASFAA. I am truly honored and grateful for the experience.

Art Young
2015-16 RMASFAA Past President

A. Young

Spotligh on New Members!

April 28, 2016

Spotlight on new members

While Nightingale College in Ogden, Utah, isn’t new to RMASFAA, they haven’t been RMASFAA members since 2011. We asked Financial Aid Manager Jennifer Morris to tell us a bit about herself and Nightingale. Two of her staff members, Noemi McCormick and Amanda Perea are new to RMASFAA—both started at Nightingale last August!

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Jennifer, left, works with Amanda, right, on student files at Nightingale College

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Noemi talks a student through the complexities of financial aid.

Q: Tell RMASFAA a bit about Nightingale College…

Jennifer: As a college built by nurses for nurses, Nightingale College is dedicated to improving communities served and elevating health care by graduating confident, competent, and compassionate registered nurses. Established in 2010, the College is an accredited institution and delivers its accelerated nursing education programs in a hybrid format via online learning modules and local, on-ground labs and clinicals. The College currently provides two degree programs: the Associate of Science in Nursing Degree (ADN) Program and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN) Program, allowing students and current registered nurses to either embark on or continue their nursing education journey. Nightingale College’s faculty and staff are devoted to equipping students with the necessary knowledge and skills to improve patient care outcomes and the quality of life for each individual, family, and community served. Programs emphasize the nursing competences such as client-centered care and evidence-based practices that are crucial to the nursing profession. In order to provide top-notch education and help each student and graduate succeed, faculty members are BSN and/or MSN prepared and bring to their classes the newest concepts and skills required for success in the ever-changing nursing landscape.

Q:  How long have you been with Nightingale College and in Financial Aid?

Jennifer: I have been with Nightingale for almost three years and have loved it. I have worked in financial aid for eleven years.

Q: What is your educational background? What brought you to Financial Aid?

Jennifer: I have a bachelor’s degree in business management. A previous co-worker called me in 2005 out of the blue and asked me if I’d be interested in coming to work under him in a financial aid office. I was needing to make a change at that time so I said sure, why not? Here I am eleven years later managing my own financial aid department!

Q: Do you have a favorite quote to share?

Jennifer: “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” ~ Roy Disney

Q: What is your favorite thing about your work?

Jennifer: I love being able to make a difference in people’s lives and financial aid has allowed me to be able to assist others to find a way to pay for education.

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Jennifer, right, is shown in her office working with Ashley Thompson, left, from Nightingale’s Learner Resources Department.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Jennifer: One of my favorite pastimes is to spend time with my children and grandchildren. I love to read and work in my yard.

Q: What was the last book you read or movie you watched and what did you think of it?

Jennifer: The book I read last was The Magic by Rhonda Byrne. I recommend it to anyone who wants to improve attitude and increase gratitude.

Q: Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?

Jennifer: I couldn’t go a day without the Internet!

Welcome back to RMASFAA Nightingale College! Be sure to say hi to Jennifer, Noemi and Amanda at the next RMASFAA event you see them!

An Interview with Bryant George of Real Life 101

April 27, 2016

The Diversity and Multicultural Initiatives Committee had the opportunity to interview Bryant George, Executive Director with the Real Life 101 organization that provides college scholarships for inner city, African American males graduating from high school. Please read the questions and answers below to learn more about Real Life 101 and how RMASFAA can help this organization to offer as many scholarships as possible!

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Can you tell us about the Real Life 101 organization and its mission?

Real Life 101, a 501(c)(3) organization, provides college scholarships for selected inner city, African American males who are graduating from high school. The organization, founded in 2000, has awarded more than 500 scholarships and over 1500 laptop computers to inner city African American males. Real Life is a national program with the mission to improve the negative statistics relative to African American males in America. Our motto is improving the image of black males in America by investing in education and not incarceration. Each scholarship student receives the following:

The opportunity to obtain a degree of his choice (in up to 5 years)

  • An annual scholarship of $2,000, renewable up to five years
  • A laptop computer equipped with software
  • A computer backpack
  • A certified Real Life Mentor for up to 5 years while in the Real Life program.

Real Life 101 is funded by corporations and private donors. Real Life targets inner city students faced with financial obstacles that threaten to prevent them from attending college and expose them to falling prey to the negative statistics that haunt African American males in America.

How can RMASFAA and the 8 states within our region help?

RMASFAA can help the Real Life 101 Scholarship Fund by identifying senior African American male high school students (within those eight states) who are going to graduate this summer (2016), and who plan to attend any accredited higher learning institution by the fall of (2016). In addition too, RMASFAA should have those students, parents, and staff contact our office directly by email at blgeorge@reallife101.org to ensure students, parents, and staff are guided through the application process.

What should we do if we know of a student that might be eligible for this scholarship program?

  • Have all students apply directly online at the following link https://www.reallife101.org/Students/New-Student-Application
  • An eligible Real Life student must be accepted into a College/University, Trade School or an accredited higher education institution. They can pursue a degree of their choice anywhere in the country or abroad.
  • High school counselors/teachers select students who should be considered for the scholarships. Receiving the scholarship is based upon the quality of the required 1000 word essay that each student must write and submit to Real Life, as well as completing the online application.  The topic of the essay is; “What will you personally do to improve the current negative statistics regarding African American males in America and abroad”.

Brought to you by:
Nicole Casey, DMCI Chair
Financial Aid Counselor
College of Saint Mary, Omaha, NE

Summer Institute Registration Open!!

April 21, 2016

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Registration for RMASFAA Summer Institute 2016 is open!

The Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators would like to extend an invitation for you to attend RMASFAA Summer Institute 2016. Join us for this excellent training opportunity as we present “Winning the Financial Aid Game” on the majestic Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden, CO!

Due to the high quality of training that Summer Institute provides, registrations are processed on a first-come, first served basis. To ensure class sessions are effective learning environments, the number of participants may be held to a maximum number.

Register online at www.rmasfaa.org – Click on “Training/Events” on the left side, then “Summer Institute”.

Questions? Please contact Cristi Millard, Summer Institute Chair, at cristi.easton@slcc.edu or Kelly Bauer, Registrar at kelly.bauer@frontrange.edu

7 Ideas to Boost Your SAP Communication Strategy

April 20, 2016

 

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Want to beef up your Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) communication strategy for students?  Consider one or more of these tips for students on Financial Aid Warning or Financial Aid Probation:

  1. Send notification via more than one method (i.e., email, snail mail, and notifications in your student information system) to notify students on Financial Aid Warning or who are disqualified for financial aid because they failed to meet SAP. This emphasizes that the school wants the student to understand this important information.
  2. During the first 2 weeks of the enrollment period, remind them of the student success services on campus. Highlight tutoring, learning communities, disability resources, library hours, and more.
  3. Monitor if these students drop classes and re-direct them to academic counseling. Intervention is key.  You want to ensure that they don’t falter again, so point them in the direction of someone who may be able to help them keep the course load they need to maintain SAP.
  4. Consider adding a Financial Literacy Component to a SAP Academic Plan. You have an excellent opportunity to provide students with a series of recommendations and pertinent information by personalizing academic plans for students on Financial Aid Probation.  Suggest completion of the Department of Education’s Financial Awareness Counseling Tool on studentloans.gov, an online financial literacy workshop, or completing a GPA or budget calculator.
  5. Prior to midterms, cheer them on. Congratulate them on their success thus far.  Summarize student success services that can help them prepare for mid-terms and gently remind them of the consequences of failure. This is also a great opportunity to remind students to make an appointment with your office if they have any questions or concerns regarding their current progress towards reestablishing SAP standards.
  6. Remind them they are on home stretch prior to finals. Inspire them to maintain their academic progress.  Consider an inspirational message from your institution’s President, a Dean, or the Director of Financial Aid.  It’s also another great opportunity to recap the student success services.
  7. Congratulate those who make it. When you run SAP again, make certain that you “high five” those students who succeeded.  Let them know that the financial aid team supports their educational goals

To learn how Satisfactory Academic Progress relates to retention and techniques to improve your SAP communication strategy, join FATV”s free 1-hour webinar to learn how Satisfactory Academic Progress on May 18 at 12 pm MT/1pm CST.

To register,  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4374240257275563009

Brought to you by:

Dianne Fulmer
Director, School Partnerships
Financial Aid TV (FATV)

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SOUTH DAKOTA 2016 SPRING CONFERENCE UPDATE

April 19, 2016

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SDASFAA hosted its Spring Conference on April 4-6 at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn at Rapid City, SD. This hotel will also be the site for the 2016 RMASFAA Conference – “You Rock”!

The SDASFAA Executive Council members were busy with their board meeting the morning of April 4th. RMASFAA President, Joe Donlay, joined the board meeting and shared information on where RMASFAA is headed and provided a recap from the recent RMASFAA board meeting. Julie Hamer, Member at Large, listens intently to Joe’s remarks.

As we headed into Monday afternoon and started our conference journey, SDASFAA President Micah Hansen kicked off the conference by welcoming all of us to the beautiful Black Hills area.

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Our conference theme was very appropriate – “The Financial Aid Journey…Don’t Stop Believin” – a good mantra for all of us who work in the financial aid trenches every day. By now some of you may have that 1981 song by Journey running through your head! The other song that comes to mind as I look at our conference theme picture is the 1991 song, “Life is a Highway” by Tom Cochrane. Am I showing my age a bit?  Maybe! My apologies for digressing for a minute…I was just getting myself into a journey/traveling mindset to help me write this article!

Throughout our conference, we enjoyed presentations by Stephen Payne (NASFAA), Joe Massman (Department of Education), Dee Lawrence (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), Dr. Lois Flagstad (Black Hills State University), Joe Donlay (RMASFAA President), Marlene Seeklander (Lake Area Technical Institute), Leah Braun (Harney Business Group), and Paul Turman (SD Board of Regents).

 

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Stephen Payne, NASFAA, provided several sessions throughout the conference

 

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“What part of the journey am I on? was presented by Dr. Lois Flagstad of BHSU.

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Joe Donlay, RMASFAA President, provided an update on RMASFAA happenings

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Joe Massman, Department of Education Trainer, presented several sessions to the group.

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Leah Braun, Harney Business Group, helped us examine ourselves via her presentation on “Work Life Balance”.

Our own Becky Pribyl was one of the recipients of the Oscar R “Jack” Hendrix award at RMASFAA 2015. Joe had the opportunity to present it to her in the midst of her SDASFAA colleagues on Tuesday.SD9

Special Awards & Recognition

During our banquet on Tuesday evening, many awards were presented. Ken Kocer, Past President, and Micah Hansen, President served as “Emcees” for the evening festivities.

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Ken Kocer and Micah Hansen

Those individuals honored with Years of Service awards included:

10 years

Morgan Huber, Mitchell Technical Institute
Bob Prouty, Mount Marty College

 15 years

Laura Fiedler, Student Loans of North Dakota
Lynette Grabowska, Southeast Technical Institute
Laura Schultz, Wells Fargo, EFS
Carol Stevens, University of South Dakota
Emily Studenski, Augustana University

 25 years

Ken Kocer, Mount Marty College

 30 years

Cheryl Bullinger, National American University

35 years

Carmen Neugebauer, Mitchell Technical Institute
Char Skjonsby, Student Loans of North Dakota

Wow…220 years! And that doesn’t include all of the other SDASFAA members and their years of service!

Two SDASFAA members were honored with the following awards:

Outstanding Service Award – Monica Gannon, National American University

Douglas Steckler Professional Development Award – Marlene Seeklander, Lake Area Technical Institute

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Ken Kocer and Monica Gannon

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Ken Kocer and Marlene Seeklander

David Martin of the School of Mines and SDASFAA Photographer caught many people listening intently to the various presentations.

On Tuesday afternoon, David gathered all of us for a “family photo” op! And he even got in on the picture!

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Throughout the conference, SDASFAA members were busy meeting and finalizing plans for the upcoming 2016 RMASFAA Conference. SDASFAA looks forward to seeing many of you at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn, Rapid City on October 23-26!

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Brought to you by:
Marlene Seeklander
Lake Area Technical Institute
Association News Committee Member, South Dakota

“Do you understand? How to Communicate More Effectively With Students”

April 12, 2016

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We have all had those reactions, “Why didn’t the student look at the student portal to see what they needed to do?” or “Why is this parent accepting loans in the student’s name?” or “I explained what they needed to do last time, why didn’t they listen!?”  Although these frustrations are an inevitable aspect of our jobs, our reactions to these situations might change if we stop to consider whether the complicated financial information we are discussing is truly understood by our constituents.  Our universities and colleges are attended by extremely diverse student populations and an unintended consequence of this diversity is often a failure to communicate clearly.

Recognition of the importance of cross-cultural communication is growing, but many of us are not sure what this means or how to do it.  An important place to begin is to consider that our worldview and culture is distinct from others.  In the US, in general, we value autonomy and linear thinking.  We expect students to come to school and manage their financial aid by following written directions.  We expect students to identify problems that they may be having and search out the solutions.

This individualistic worldview contrasts with the worldview of many other cultures which are community oriented.  In many societies, problems are communally discussed and resolved.  Individuals see themselves as part of a larger group, like a family, and decisions about their future are made collectively.  In these cultures, it is natural that parents would be actively involved in day-to-day decisions and financial aid actions.  In the same way we may dismiss and disparage “helicopter parents,” families from other cultures cannot understand our hands-off attitude.

The foundation of cross-cultural communication is built on mutual respect and patience.  We need to approach students and families with the recognition that we each have distinct histories and lived contexts.  Our first generation students or international students may not even know the questions that they need to ask and they may become frustrated when they talk to us.

There are several basic communication strategies that will help us to communicate more effectively with all of our students (culturosity.com 2007).

  1. Speak slowly (not so slowly that you imply that they aren’t smart enough to understand): Although we hear and answer the same questions repeatedly, for the students and families calling us, the information is unfamiliar.  By slowing down, we avoid the tendency to gloss over information that we know well.  It also gives the student time to formulate and ask questions.
  1. Listen carefully: Restate what you think the question is to make sure you understand what they are asking.  I have many calls begin with parents who are angry and frustrated.  These same parents often do not know what they need to ask.
  1. Ask that your listener repeat back to you what needs to be done.
  1. Remain calm and listen carefully; often frustrated parents and students will calm down in response to your demeanor, especially if they feel as though you are hearing what they are saying.
  1. Don’t give too much information at once. It may be better to give a few steps and then follow up.  I find it useful to follow up with an email reiterating the main points of the conversation and then bulleting what needs to be done.
  2. Don’t use jargon, slang or sayings. For students and families whose first language is not English, colloquialisms and slang may be difficult to understand.  Even students from different regional areas may have difficulty understanding your area’s taken-for-granted use of sayings and slang.  Try to keep your language clear and unambiguous.

Recognition that communication style is culturally specific is the most important first step for increasing the effectiveness of your communication with all students.  We know that paying for college is a stressful issue for many parents and students.  When we add in the difficulty of understanding the complex information that is sent out by financial aid offices, it may become too overwhelming for students to continue their educations.  A critical step for the retention of students and the successful completion of requirements is the clear communication of needed steps and information.

Brought to you by:

Dawn Nottingham, DMCI Committee
Counselor, Client Services
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO