Around the Nation, Around the World
The Earthquake in Japan – March 11, 2011 – The 2011 RMASFAA Board of Directors had just convened in Denver, CO for our winter meeting when news of the earthquake hit. News of the widespread devastation consumed the media for several weeks.
Osama Bin Laden Killed – May 2, 2011 – As most of us were preparing to wind down our Spring semesters, news spread of Bin Laden being killed by the US Forces in a special operation.
Congressional budget debates seemed to repeatedly stagnate at the brink of government shutdown this year. A barometer of our increasingly divided political climate, the debates often include scrutiny of educational spending, leaving us with many more questions than answers. The discussion should prove even more interesting as we head into the 2012 Presidential Election season.
In Student Aid
Year Round Pell – It Came, It Went… A phased implementation beginning in 2009-2010 combined with eleventh-hour congressional decisions regarding its administration in 2010-2011 allowed for MUCH talk (and maybe some profanity?) around the office water-cooler. Pell grant spending cuts have remained a highly-discussed topic for the duration of this year…
July 1, 2011 saw the implementation of new Program Integrity regulations that proved to all of us that when the money gets tight, the rules get tighter. Ability to benefit (ATB) reporting, credit hour definitions, gainful employment disclosures, module-based Return to Title IV Funds, Repeat Coursework funding limitations, SAP changes, and “you’ve GOT to be kidding me” State Authorization requirements have had many of us reeling and feeling a little worse for wear.
The 2011-2012 aid year saw the proverbial sunset of ACG and National SMART Grants after five very interesting years of administering those awards. While initially burdensome, many of us had finally gotten “into the swing” of administering those programs and it’s always tough when funding is taken off the table for our students.
We said goodbye to our dear friend and colleague Randy Thompson, former Director at Sheridan College in Wyoming. Randy’s career centered on helping students and he was a genuine mentor to many of us. Randy’s passing saddened us all – but RMASFAA is a better association because of Randy and he will truly be missed.
RMASFAA’s 30th Summer Institute just completed a four-year run at the University of Utah. The theme this year was “RMASFAA’s Got Talent” and, to the delight of our attendees, faculty, and committee, featured the first-ever “RMOSCARS” awards ceremony and talent show! A great time was had by all. In a “first” for Summer Institute, veterans Sue Weinreis, Jeanne Mott, and Jeff Gregory were granted “tenure” faculty status for their continual participation in and support of RMASFAA’s signature training program.
The RMASFAA Exchange moved to the world of online, social media; the new blog has been well-received by the membership, has eased the workload of the Association News committee, and provides RMASFAA updates in a much more “streaming”, on-the-spot manner.
The RMASFAA Association Governance Committee was tasked at the March 2011 Board Meeting to take on more of a “Federal Issues & Advocacy” role. Going forward, look for the AG Committee to serve as a conduit for issues and information to be transmitted between the region/states and the NASFAA Board and the Hill. It is important now, more than ever, for our membership to be informed and “have a place at the table” in policy discussions on the aid programs.
RMASFAA’s award-winning Leadership Pipeline program is graduating its second class of mentees. Many of this year’s mentee class have already stepped up to the plate in leadership positions on the incoming Board of Directors or on various committees. Look for GREAT things from this outstanding group of individuals.