It is my pleasure to provide you with this update on the work of the 2015-16 NASFAA Board of Directors. I am privileged to be a part of this dynamic and committed group of financial aid professionals for the next eight months. For your information, the following items were among those discussed at last month’s board meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona:
- NASFAA’s financials and membership numbers are strong. Membership growth has plateaued, largely because most schools are already NASFAA members. NASFAA’s member institutions serve roughly 90 percent of all undergraduates.
- As part of NASFAA’s continued commitment to top-notch training and professional development (one of the four prongs of our mission statement), CORE materials will soon be replaced entirely by the NASFAA University Self-Study Guides. Watch for more details in the coming months.
- The Standards of Excellence (SOE) Review Program will soon be increasing marketing efforts and exploring additional consulting services. If your school is looking for a comprehensive review of your processes without the unfortunate side effects of a program review or audit, the SOE program could be for you!
- NASFAA staff is currently developing a valuable new web-based tool for creating and updating Policies and Procedures Manuals, as well as remaining in compliance with ever-changing regulations. Stay tuned! Phase One of this exciting new product is slated for delivery in July 2016.
- As many of you are aware, Justin Draeger (NASFAA’s President and CEO) testified at a Congressional hearing on November 18 regarding the Office of Federal Student Aid and its effectiveness as a Performance-Based Organization. Justin’s testimony was informed and vetted by the board in an effort to call Congressional attention to the frustrations schools are facing and to hopefully bring greater accountability to FSA operational shortfalls.
- NASFAA continues to explore potential areas for partnership and collaboration with the regional associations. The overriding goal is to reduce overlap in operational areas and to increase efficiency and maximize resources to better meet the needs of all. I am particularly proud of RMASFAA’s ad hoc committee (led by current President Joe Donlay) for their vision and hard work in moving this timely discussion forward.
- In the past four years, NASFAA has brought in more than $850,000 in grant funding to delve into important federal policy issues (a very impressive number, especially when compared to the $8,000 received during the previous four years). The Advocacy and Research Department has done an exceptional job of maximizing these opportunities. Thanks to their efforts, NASFAA continues to be a trusted voice, significantly influencing legislative issues that impact student financial aid.
- Beginning next spring, NASFAA will explore Federal Work Study (FWS) through a grant awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This study will include membership surveys and focus groups to find best practices that can be implemented across schools, as well as identify pain points that could be addressed via regulatory or legislative changes. Watch for a report with detailed findings in late spring 2016.
- The board approved continued exploration regarding the idea of “bonus borrowing,” which would allow schools with low default rates to offer additional federal loans to their students. It is this type of “big picture” thinking and research that led to President Obama’s announcement just a few months ago that prior-prior year tax information will be required on the 2017-18 FAFSA. NASFAA is committed to doing all we can to ensure a smooth transition to PPY for school and students. If you have suggestions, please contact Amanda Jacobsen from Salt Lake Community College, who is RMASFAA’s representative on the PPY Implementation Task Force. You can also reach out to one of the four strong, experienced RMASFAA members on the PPY Resource Group: Mary Sommers from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Tom Biedscheid from Colorado State University, Marty Somero from the University of Northern Colorado, or Kent McGowan from the University of Montana.
- NASFAA continues to plan for its 50th Anniversary celebration, which will take place at the national conference in Washington, D.C. next July. Activities will include special conference speakers, the ceremonial closing of a student aid time capsule (to be opened in another 50 years), and a birthday bash you won’t soon forget! I personally invite you to be part of the festivities. It is sure to be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our noble profession and all the good that we have done (and can continue to do!) for students. For questions or to get involved, contact RMASFAA’s own dynamic party-planning duo: the fabulous Janet Riis and the equally tremendous Brenda Hicks.
I sincerely express my gratitude to all of you for giving me the opportunity to serve in this capacity. It has already been extremely challenging, invigorating, and most of all rewarding. I am committed to representing your viewpoints and needs to the board to the best of my ability. Thank you to those who have already provided feedback to help me better serve you. If you have any concerns or input regarding the above issues (or any others), please feel free to reach out to me at any time.
Best wishes for a joyful, relaxing and rejuvenating holiday!