Diversity and Inclusion Committee Scholarship Recipient – Jayson Matlock

This summer was the first time that I have ever been able to experience Summer Institute through RMASFAA, and I had a great time! I started my journey into financial aid about 6 years ago as a work-study student, and have been working as a counselor for three years. I just recently hit my three-year mark!

Throughout my time, I have been introduced to new information and methods that others adopt to stay productive and efficient and it can be an overwhelming burden when you first begin. Summer Institute has definitely contributed to my overall mindset about this field, and has given me a greater perspective and pride in my role as an administrator.

As soon as SI started, I knew it was a great place to be for professional growth. It has been a little while since I had to sit in a classroom, and everyone in my group had varying years of experience and certain specializations at their institutions. Throughout the week, I had great instruction from James and Susan, and they were very thorough in presenting the information to help us understand it on a deeper level. My teammates and coaches helped me to understand a lot during the week. I know I am a super curious person, but I felt super comfortable asking questions and being able to discuss information that I wanted a greater understanding of.  I may be biased, but I feel that I was on one of the best teams as a Decathlete!

In my group, many critical thinking activities helped us to see outside of the box, or connect to situations that are not as common. I definitely came away with info that got me excited to share it with my institution, and inspired me to do research to prepare for the future.

The professional development opportunities at RMASFAA are extremely abundant as well. Everyone has a mentality that makes you want to be a part of something bigger in the financial aid community. Whether that be through a position or volunteerism is completely up to the individual, but the opportunities are present. The environment is definitely somewhere a growing FAA in the field would want to be to become better at their role.

To be real, I thought Summer Institute was just a great time. I had a personal best of knocking down 10 bottles in about 18 seconds with a stocking wrapped around my head, and I won’t lie that I felt a little competitive with it!  Aside from the games, which were awesome, I was also able to network with so many people, and I felt like I was trying to be everybody’s friend! There are many people in RMASFAA that I would consider a mentor or resource, and it is great to be able to rely on people who have similar interests. When Thursday ended, I was a little sad since I was having a great time, but I look forward to being involved more in the future!

Jayson Matlock

When I began in Financial Aid, it was the first step into my professional career. I was brand new to this world coming from a different background where socioeconomic issues are real, and at times I was unsure if financial aid was the best fit for my since I wanted to make the big bucks and be on the quick track to success. However, the more I consider my values and the role I assume, the more I realize I love what I do and that there are still opportunities to grow! SI has definitely reinforced that passion for me, and I continually look forward to the future in Financial Aid.

I sincerely thank the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for selecting me as a candidate for the scholarship, and I am extremely grateful for the knowledge and connections I was able to gain from the experience!

P.S. I bleed plaid.

Jayson Matlock
Southern Utah University

Vote before July 12!

Vote today

The RMASFAA ballot is open for voting privileges until July 12

If you are the voting member at your institution (and you have not cast your vote), please follow the instructions below to vote right away!

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President’s Update

Where has the time gone?  Seems like I just finished sending out an update on our winter board meeting and here we are in the heat of summer.  Here are some updates on what’s happening in this wonderful region we call RMASFAA:

State Conferences:  I had the pleasure, honor and I have to say an absolutely wonderful time, visiting the state conferences for MASFAA, KASFAA, NeASFAA, NDASFAA, WyASFAA, SDASFAA and CAFAA.   Each conference was unique in their own way, but all were well planned, informative and so welcoming and fun to be a part of.  This is truly one of the biggest perks of being RMASFAA President and one I will always treasure.   A special thank you to Past-President Vicki Kucera for attending the UASFAA conference on my behalf while I attended the North Dakota Conference, which fell on the same days.  I’m hoping to be able to travel to the Utah conference next year, God willing and Myra willing.

Electronic Initiatives Committee:  As reported in the last update, the RMASFAA Board approved an upgrade of our website.  Lisa Westendorf and the Electronic Initiatives Committee is hard at work in implementing the upgrade.  You will be seeing a new look for our website in the near future.

50th Anniversary Committee:  Our 50th Anniversary Committee has been working with our associate members and our RMASFAA Committees to compliment and make our RMASFAA Conference in Fargo one to remember.

Elections:  Great job Myra Pfannenstiel for putting together an excellent slate of talented candidates for the coming year.  A special “thank you” to all the candidates for stepping forward as leaders for our association.  If you are a voting member for your institution and have not already voted, please make sure to do so.  Best wishes to our candidates.

Summer Institute:  This year Summer Institute moved back to Colorado College in Colorado Springs and was an extremely successful training event.  Carolyn Halgerson, SI Chair and John Curl, Faculty Dean along with our dedicated faculty and staff reinforced the status of the RMASFAA Summer Institute as one of the premier training events in the country.

NASFAA Conference:  The NASFAA Conference in Austin was not only a great professional development opportunity, but a great opportunity for networking.  We had forty RMASFAA members attend our “RMASFAA Dinner Night Out”.   The room was filled with love, laughter and friendship and provided a nice opportunity for us to come together as a group.  It was also announced at the NASFAA Board meeting that NASFAA would continue to provide the free vouchers for NASFAAU Credential Courses provided through RMASFAA sponsored credential training, which is a great added benefit.

RMASFAA Conference in Fargo:  If you haven’t noticed yet, the 2018 RMASFAA Conference registration and the conference program are out on the RMASFAA Website.  Kudos to North Dakota for putting together an excellent program with a wide variety of sessions for attendees to choose from.     Make sure to attend RMASFAA’s 50th Anniversary Conference in Fargo and celebrate our past and future!

As we go through summer and into fall, know that your RMASFAA Board is hard at work for you.  I am truly blessed to be a part of this dedicated group of individuals and especially blessed to serve you.  If you have any questions or input you would like to provide, feel free to contact me by phone at (605) 668-1589 or email kkocer@mtmc.edu.

Ken Kocer

All my best,

Ken Kocer

RMASFAA President

Diversity and Inclusion Committee Scholarship Recipient – Emery Vigil

Home Run

Summer Institute provides the perfect opportunity for new and seasoned financial aid professionals to establish new friendships, share knowledge, and witness exemplary leadership within the financial aid community. Thanks to the Diversity & Inclusion Committee Scholarship, I have had the privilege of attending Summer Institute two years in a row.

As a new financial aid professional at Summer Institute, I found that the overwhelming support and encouragement from other conference attendees is a powerful motivator to seek out further opportunities within RMASFAA and consider how I might one day be a leader within this field.

Emery Vigil

While the twin beds in the dorm rooms made many of us cringe, each day’s events (plus a lot of coffee), made for an exciting and challenging week. I found myself becoming competitive both inside and outside the classroom, trying to solve scavenger hunt questions, win points for my team at Minute To Win It, and keep up with Vicki Kucera during morning/afternoon walks.

My amazing instructors, Brandon and Peggy, created a cohesive learning atmosphere in which ideas and practices were both challenged and applauded. My team’s sport/theme was baseball, which Brandon and Peggy wholeheartedly embraced with matching jerseys, Cracker Jacks, and peanuts!

My experience at Summer Institute reminds me why I feel so passionate about financial aid. Unlike many of my peers, my career path into financial aid was a planned one. I went into graduate school knowing that I wanted to work in financial aid and started my current position as a financial aid counselor at the University of Utah two months after graduating.

However, financial aid in practice offered far more of a challenge than I ever anticipated. The days are long, the procedures and policies change overnight, and the students we help are numerous. Summer institute reminds me to smile like John Curl, sing a verification song like Art Young, and remember that behind every FAFSA is an individual, a family, and a community that I have the honor of serving. I am incredibly thankful to the Diversity & Inclusion Committee for giving me the opportunity to attend Summer Institute. This experience was nothing short of a home run!

Emery Vigil
University of Utah


North Dakota Spotlight

I had the opportunity to spotlight one of my favorite North Dakotans…Jeff Jacobs.

I worked with Jeff a few years back when I was secretary of RMASFAA. He’s always teaching, always caring and always there to lend a hand. I posed a wide variety of questions to him. He had no hesitation with his answers. Jeff, thanks so much for sharing. Please enjoy and learn from what he has to say…

RMASFAA - Jacobs_Jeff - E-mail Photo (002)

As a seasoned veteran within financial aid, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

The biggest contributor to impact financial aid is the collaboration I’ve experienced first-hand with colleagues within the state, region and nationally.  The financial aid profession is so unique in others wanting and willing to help you solve issues, even from competitor schools.  There are other professional organizations within the higher education community who will not share information but financial aid is so different in that regard.  I find it humbling and reassuring that I can reach out to colleagues and receive some very good advice to assist me with tough decisions.

Technology has changed our jobs in so many ways and has somewhat dictated how we do our work.  Nobody in the financial aid world can get by without having some technical skills and many schools need a dedicated technician in their office to assist them with day to day operations.

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs, and career?

With Passion!  You can change the trajectory of an institution positively by believing in your work and displaying passion for students.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

Get involved with association work!  Financial Aid is such a unique profession but you can’t do it by yourself.  You need colleagues to help you along the way as you will find times when you need to lean on a friend and the best means of meeting people is by getting involved.

How do you see this profession in five years?  10 years?

I see financial aid folks becoming more like personal financial coaches where we work with families on a one-to-one basis to assist students with their financing options.  We’ve spent a great deal of time in the past dealing with processing of financial aid applications but in the future those processing issues will be minor so we can spend more time assisting students with personal financing options.

What do you like to do in your free time either Indoors or Outdoors?

Go to the lake and relax by enjoying a pontoon ride.

How do you pass the time, when/if there is a lull?

We’ve reinvented our scholarship program over the last several years so whenever there is a free moment I spend my time reviewing and making improvement suggestions for our scholarship program to the Foundation and Colleges.  I also spend some time reviewing our data related to need based aid so that I can understand where more resources need to be committed.

Who do you admire most? Professionally, personally and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

I admire financial aid professionals who know numerous details about specific programs and can recite those details at any given moment.  These individuals are well versed in the details of financial aid and know all of the intricacies of the regulation and how it is applied.  I struggle to understand the basics at times.

What do you dislike doing? Professionally or personally…or both?

Washing dishes!

What gets you excited about life?

It’s the day to day moments – whether it be having a great conversation with a friend, taking a walk, enjoying time with my wife or family.

What’s your favorite time of the day?

Early in the day when I arrive to work before most people in the morning and I make coffee, read emails and get ready for the day.




Cindy Kleinsorge

Johnson County Community College



Conference Registration is Open!

Conference Registration is Open!

North Dakota invites you to the 2018 RMASFAA Conference: 

“North of Normal” October 7-10.


Click HERE for the tentative conference program, hotel information, and registration!

If you have any questions about the conference, feel free to contact our conference co-chairs:



Sherry Bisek

Phone: 701-231-5740



 BethanyBethany Vincent

Phone:  701-231-0355